Nigeria: In Bardo Women Take Destiny in Their Hands

16 October 2020

Dutse — Bardo village in Taura Local Government Council in Jigawa State is one of those that may be described as hard-to-reach rural communities spread across the state that have suffered from the normal government negligence.

For three years, the community had to endure the actions of persons who feel that government property belongs to nobody as the vehicles provided by the state government under the Haifuwa Lafiya (Safe Delivery) to convey their pregnant women and other emergencies to the nearest hospital were wrecked.

As a result of the development, the state government was forced to order a review of the project.

And given the bureaucracy involved and the time frame the government took to undertake the review, it led to the needless and unnecessary loss of lives, due to the distance involved to be covered in between the community and the next available hospital.

Their situation is also not helped by the poor and deplorable nature of the access road leading to the community.

Though, just about five kilometres from the main road in Sabongari Takenebu in the nearby Miga Local Government Council, the state of the road, as our investigation indicated, has caused some women from the community into forced labour and unsafe delivery and other unnecessary hardships.

Faced with this uncertainty, they have endured helplessly for three years.

However, the arrival of the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT), an empowerment programme by the present administration, under which very poor rural women are being paid a monthly N5,000 stipend provided them and the men in the community an avenue to find a way out around their situation.

Malama Hanne Hassan, the spokesperson for the women group in the community, told Daily Trust while giving the background to their initiative during a visit to the community that for three years, the community was without a vehicle to convey their critically ill persons and pregnant women in labour to Jahun General Hospital in the neighbouring local government area, the only General Hospital near the community.

This development, she said has caused the deaths of several members of the community.

Malama Hanne added that the situation was exacerbated by road being that, the only five-kilometre access road leading into the community from the expressway in Sabongari Takenebu is in a deplorable condition.

She said a pregnant woman in labour being conveyed in that road condition expresses a lot of stress and pain.

She said the community had had to bear with the situation for more than three years until the empowerment was birthed.

"Therefore, with the empowerment support that we have been receiving from the federal government, we normally contribute and give our men up to one million.

"When we couldn't meet the N1m target, some of our people in Kano also assisted with some money.

"So with the money, the car was bought and each time we have health challenges like child labour, we are easily conveyed to the hospital in Jahun.

"But before we got this vehicle, we have suffered a great deal.

"Since we do not have good roads, before getting to the hospital, we normally suffer.

"Before then, it's either you have to go to another community to get the vehicle or to go on a motorcycle, which also has its own implications.

"But with this vehicle on ground, we thank Allah and our president for the empowerment scheme that enabled us to contribute the money to purchase the vehicle, because every member of the community is benefitting from the services of the vehicle in this community."

With an estimated population of more than 10,000 persons, she confirmed that, altogether, 417 women were benefitting from that programme in the community.

"So, when we got the first batch of the N10,000, our men sat down to decide that since our vehicle is no longer available and the government has not deemed it fit to replace our damaged vehicle, so what do we do?

"We now decided to make a N10,000 contribution from the money.

"Twice we made the contributions, which amounted to N800,000 and we have indigenes of this community, who are resident in Kano doing business, who also gave us their widow's mite of N100,000.

"This together with individual contributions, amounted to N1m with which we used to purchase the vehicle from Kano.

"We have now dedicated it solely for conveying of sick in critical condition and pregnant women in labour to Jahun General Hospital, which is about 29 kilometres away from here.

"Though, we as women are the only direct beneficiaries of this government empowerment programme, but since it is a collective decision and our men have sensitised us on the importance of this project, we willingly and voluntarily gave out our contributions with smiles each time we got the money as this vehicle does not perform any other function than to convey our sick and pregnant women in labour to the hospital.

Daily Trust also observed that, apart from the deplorable condition of the access road into the community, the only Primary Health Centre (PHC) is also in a deplorable condition.

The Dagacin Bardo, Alhaji Haruna, therefore, appealed for the upgrading of the facilities in the centre, saying people from neighbouring communities including Sarawuya, Nahucce, Tumawa, Bichi, Plata, Gamakauye, Meladiya, Dallam, Dinnaka among others also make use of the health facility.

Jigawa Government reacts

Jigawa State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajiya Yalwa Da'u Tijjani acknowledged the initiative and described the efforts of the women in the community as unprecedented, which must be emulated by other communities.

"What they have done is unheard off, because in our communities everybody waits on the government to do virtually everything for them, but as they have got this for themselves, they should be commended for that effort," she told Daily Trust.

In recognition of the gesture, Hajiya Yalwa said she had visited the community in person, first to commend the women for what they have done.

Besides, during one of the executive council meetings, the governor had mandated a team that she led to go once again to the place and commend them for their initiative and explain to them what the government was doing for them, and why Haifuwa Lafiya Project was stopped.

"Even the men, I told them that they should commend the women because they have done what they (the men) could not do.

"From the little they are getting, they were able to contribute such amount.

"If all the people getting this kind of intervention from the federal government can do that in each ward or in each local government at least, they will be helping the government per se, and because, this is the first time females, not males are doing this kind of thing, it went very far.

"I have told the women there that they are better than the men in that community because most of the men that came were in N-Power Programme earning N30,000 monthly, but they didn't have the initiative of saying let us save something that will help the government, in fact, some of them were even complaining that the N30,000 is not enough for them, but the women were just getting only N5,000, so why shouldn't I be proud of them?"

"The vehicles we bought were misused, they were not being used for the communities they were bought for, the drivers were using them for public transportation, and most of them have gone off the road.

"So when I wrote a memo to the governor for the vehicles to be repaired, the governor directed that we should work out a new transportation system.

"Now we are using private vehicles, whereby we pay the drivers and they pick our pregnant women to the hospitals nearest to them, we are just starting the system and it is working, so we commend the women for what they have done," she explained.

Dan Amana Dutse donated a car

Also, in a show of support, a businessman and philanthropist, in Dutse, Alhaji Haladu Nasiru Danu has donated another vehicle as an incentive to encourage other communities. Besides, Danu, who holds the title of Dan Amana Dutse in the Dutse Emirate Council gave the villagers the sum of N200,000 cash to enable them to fuel the car, in addition to the purchase of four brand new tyres for the first car they bought.

Danu disclosed that the gestures were under his foundation, the Haladu Nasiru Danu Medical Mission as a means of motivating and encouraging the spirit of self-help among other communities.

He made it clear that any community that follows suit will also get a similar reward.

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