Nigerian Government


 – Says Government need to set up Mental health facilities and distress lines as soon as possible….

One of the downsides of the present change the world is experiencing because of the Coronavirus pandemic is the effect it would have on the mental health of so many people globally. Many have never been in situations where they have to stay in one place and not move around. While the social distancing and lockdown is a necessary safety measure to flatten the curve of COVID virus, we also need to create mental safe space for everyone.

Rinret Gofwan shares her thoughts on this. She is a behavioural change therapist, licensed trauma therapist, a certified emotional intelligence coach who specialises in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and Advanced Training for Trauma Treatment of complex PTSD, overcoming compassion fatigue with professional resiliency, trauma and addiction.

Rinret is a University of Abuja Trained Communicator and Psychologist from the University of Jos, and a Sociologist From the University of Maiduguri with a Masters in International Relations and Strategic Studies. She is also the founding director at the Miriam Gofwan Women and Children Foundation. She shares her inspiring story while giving us an insight on how coronavirus will affect the mental health of people globally.

Growing up
Growing up as an only child, I was spoilt with everything. Looking back, I was an over-pampered child. My late mum wanted me to have everything life had to offer until she passed on. So at 16 years, I was alone, I didn’t know how to wash my clothes; it was at that moment life welcomed me. I had to start learning and I had to adapt and survive.

Inspiration behind Miriam Gofwan Women and Children Foundation and its impact
I always get this question and I’m always trying to figure out which life lesson to start with.  Is it being accused of witchcraft, being abused and raped or almost losing my life in an accident? All these alongside my near-death experience inspired me to start the organisation. I disconnected from reality and built a personality. I couldn’t face my life as it was, suffered from pain and disassociating (disconnecting-from reality and couldn’t feel anything). I was fortunate to meet my mentors, Innocent and Talatu Usar, who God used to pull me through that phase of my life.

Being a Behavioural Change Therapist, Certified EI Coach, Trained Communicator and managing it all
Well when you are addicted to finding ways to heal, you will stumble into many training. In my trauma healing work, I need to be equipped with the right tools that would help in healing, so I committed myself to learn. You know people respond differently to trauma; what might be traumatic to someone might not be to you. How we react and respond to traumatic events are different. With this in mind, I went into learning and this has helped me understand my clients and knowing what tool to use in any case we have at the Foundation and the wellbeing hub.

What inspired me to start the pan-Nigeria healing room and the wellbeing hub for professionals
You see, the pain has no gender, no religion, no status no tribe, no class. Pain does not choose who feels it, we ALL feel pain; either from losing a loved one, loss of our childhood, abuse of any kind (verbal, emotional and physical) heartbreaks, disappointment, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, accusation or any traumatic experience. We are constantly trying to deal with these emotional issues and staking them side by side.

When emotions are over-staked and thoughts can’t be controlled, we need to devise methods to help. That’s how the Healing Room and the hub for professionals started; to enlighten, help and give professionals a place to go seek for help. The Healing Room became a place we go to sort out all these stacked up emotions, a no-judgment zone where you speak up and get healed. Coming to the healing room to some is like coming for medical checks monthly or weekly. To others, it is like coming to take vaccines to reset their minds; to some, it’s coming for medications in each session. To some, it is a place to support others who are in pain. To some, it is a place to hang out and stay emotionally healthy with proper guidelines.
Above all, it is a place of restoring wholeness for professionals.

Mental health effect of coronavirus pandemic and what can we do as a society to sensitise people
The first thing is to encourage people to stay calm, already I have many clients who are suffering from depression and anxiety because of the situation and we kicked off online group sessions to help them.

The truth is, being isolated is not healthy for people who are not used to such serenity, or people who have had a history of depression. What mental health practitioners can do right now is to start using technology and phone calls to help manage their clients, I have started on my end and I hope many more will go that route. The government would need to leverage on technology to also enable people to get first-hand mental health help online, by providing distress numbers to call. This will make a lot of difference.

Wellness nuggets for women who don’t know how to slam the breaks and detox
You see, mental and emotional wellbeing is an important part of our overall health. Women who are mentally and emotionally healthy are more in control of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. Women need to understand how to master their emotions and know how to be balanced in all seven dimensions of wellbeing, which are social, emotional, spiritual, environmental, occupational, Intellectual and physical. Stress is the feeling of being under too much pressure and feeling unable to cope with situations. Women who are constantly affected by stress in different ways end up getting sick and over time, ending up with mental health and physical issues.

Here are some things women can do to help reduce stress, constantly and instantly, over a period time:
Learning how to say NO, breathe; learn to relax your mind and body, try breathing exercises that can calm you down when under stress, exercise, get Spa dates to help release tension. Sleep – try to go to bed and wake up at a good time, laughing to relieve stress, talk- open up to someone you trust about your problems, and surround yourself with people who inspire you.

Challenges of Being a Mental Health Advocate
Mental health stigma, our justice systems, religious believes around mental health issues, funding for the foundation, consistency in following the therapy processes, the high rate of people in rural areas who are not aware of mental health issues, and how poverty has made them turn all issues of mental health to spiritual issues, the deliverance centers where they beat and abuse those with behavioural issues instead of therapy homes and the lack of mental health therapy centers.


Other projects and activities
We are currently working with some government agencies to launch and fix our sanitary pad boxes across the country in communities and public schools. We have opened our sanitary bank where we receive sanitary pads for distribution to schools and communities. We are opening more healing room therapy groups in five other states. We designed some trauma-informed course outlines to help schools and organizations. We recently just opened the wellbeing hub in Abuja, where we attend to clients who want private therapy and want trauma-informed trainings and care for their schools and organisations.

What makes you a Woman of Rubies
For me the stone ruby is also believed to protect self and others from negative entities that bring positive energy, promoting spiritual vitality and wellness. Now this describes the woman I have become- a strong woman who has gone through a lot and survived, coming out beautiful, standing strong and helping thousands of men and women. Now, that describes me!

As a counselor of repute and certified Trauma specialist, do you think the Nigerian Government has done enough in the Mental Health sector? If not, what would you suggest they do better?
I believe the government can do more by setting up more mental health facilities and rehabilitation centers; creating awareness around mental health issues and the stigma around it; reforming the justice process in rape cases and how evidence is processed; setting up therapy session and mental health training for our men and women in uniform; creating a safe working environment for women and young girls to speak up, not be shamed and judged; including mental health sessions in our school curriculums, and making sure we have sanitary pads and the boxes hanging everywhere in the country.

Dr. Cassandra Bolanle Akinde is a young medical doctor with a burning passion for public health, humanitarian causes and the sustainable development goals. She obtained an MBBS (Bachelor’s in Medicine and Surgery) degree from the prestigious University of Lagos in 2016.

She is currently the Team Lead for The Nigerian Child Initiative, a non-profit which promotes child health awareness and sustainable education to empower them with healthy choices. Her work centres on helping these children understand that sound education and good health are vital determinants in ensuring their success as future leaders.

In her years of working with The Nigerian Child Initiative, she and her team have reached out to over three thousand children in schools on SDG education by organising interschool essay competitions, workshops, research masterclasses, seminars and capacity building programmes.

Providing essential care services and implementation in poorly accessible areas by targeting over five hundred children for the past 4 years is another area Dr. Akinde has uncommon zeal for. This young woman is an inspiration in multiple facets. In addition to the other brilliant aspects of her life, she’s got multilingual ability in fluent English, Spanish, Russian with a growing proficiency in German.

She considers it her life’s mission to improve quality of life of everyone she comes across using all of her unique abilities. This gives her inexplicable motivation and joy. Cassandra shares her inspiring story with Esther Ijewere in this intrview.

Childhood preparation & Parental Influence

My childhood really played a major role in my life as I was raised as a humanitarian. My parents are the biggest inspiration behind what I do now. I remember as a child I will follow my mother to church where she was always assigned one task or another for the congregation.

One event that stands fresh in my memory is the day I accompanied my mother and my brother to an orphanage for the first time as it was our turn to help out in church by bringing some relief materials for the children. I met a young girl who was suffering from cerebral palsy. Part of the activities included engaging her in pottery work. We made a very beautiful clay pot that I really admired. When she saw my wistful face, she selflessly gave it to me. I was so startled, but she insisted I keep it. She was so happy giving me that pot, that till this day I remember her happy face. This was the moment I decided that giving is more fulfilling than receiving and that is how my journey to making social impact began. I kept coming back to play, teach and engage them in various games and artworks over the years.

My dad also taught me to be selfless, innately kind and liberal whenever the opportunity arose by donating all my unused toys, clothes and sporting equipment to charity.

Meet Me

My name is Cassandra Bolanle Akinde and I am a medical doctor by profession. I am the current Team Lead of The Nigerian Child Initiative and assistant coordinator at Medglobe Volunteers. I am very passionate about Health Advocacy and the Sustainable Developmental Goals. I am also an activist for women and children. I love meeting people and expanding my network, reading, teaching, spending quality time with my family and friends, scrapbooking and I absolutely love to volunteer! On an average day when I am not at the hospital working or out volunteering, I would usually relax at home, engaging social media and watching movies. I also spend adequate time praising God for all my blessings and asking for forgiveness for my sins.

Inspiration behind TNCI

The Nigerian Child Initiative began with the simple vision of providing a platform that would create a brighter and rewarding future for children. Since its foundation by Dr Yusuf Shittu, it has become much bigger than that. It is now a large volunteer-based platform for transforming the lives of Nigerian children by improving their access to healthcare and mentorship and building the capacity of young people to be change makers and leaders. I began as a volunteer who caught the vision, committed to the vision and slowly climbed to the leadership position of overseeing the team of vibrant young people eager to make a positive change.

 Transforming Lives

With interests in Child Health promotion, Development Education and Mentorship, the team mentors children in schools and engages them with the Sustainable Development Goals and brings healthcare within the reach of children underserved and low income communities. Through our annual Essay Competition on SDGs for Secondary School students, winners are matched to mentor organisations. Since inception, we have reached up to 3,000 children with essential healthcare services including Malaria Screening, Dental Checks, Vaccination, Deworming and Essential Drugs in 5 communities across Lagos. The organisation has also educated about 5,000 children and teenagers directly on the Sustainable Developmental Goals through talk sessions in schools and at 3 Competition Grand Finales. We are also currently mentoring our 3rd cohort of 17 Global Goal Ambassadors who make us proud with their exciting social impact projects and innovations. They are each influencing other students in their schools and setting great examples for them to follow.

Work challenges

One of the major challenges was funding of course. We had difficulty getting sponsors and raising funds for our programs but with meaningful partnerships over the years the problem has been circumvented but we are always open for more opportunities.

Another challenge is that of recruiting volunteers who share the same vision ,passion and possess similar character to do what we do .A lot of  young individuals are looking at our platform as an avenue for furthering their career or adding portfolios  to their CV without actually having any passion or zeal to do any real work but just in the name only  and that can be disheartening.

Being a  Medglobe Volunteer

MEDGLOBE VOLUNTEERS is an international organization that started out of an urging desire to increase drug adherence, therapeutic outcome, decrease drug abuse and misuse; hence promoting health worldwide. We also conduct health outreaches and participate in various health campaigns and community health walks thus promoting health advocacy.

Other Projects

After working on #StopPneumonia campaign,I intend to collaborate with Dr Chioma Nwakanma  on #CheatonCervicalCancerAwarenessCampaign as this is the awareness month.

My other projects in the year will include; Neo Childcare Solutions Limited, a mobile clinic health service provider which seeks to bridge the gap of access to healthcare for  the children in remote areas. WASHED UP- Water Sanitation and Health Education against Diarrhoea, Malnutrition and Pneumonia. SkillsUpForGood – Capacity building seminar,Substance Abuse project ,Domestic Violence Docuseries

TNCI  in 5 years…

In the next  five years I see The Nigerian Child Initiative as a leading non-profit organisation  expanding across all the states in Nigeria and hopefully even across some West African countries. I see it being on the world map for the impact it is making, with a larger volunteer base who capacity has built to reach out to more children. I can also see it as a platform for transforming lives of the young people and providing employment opportunities. As for me personally, I can see myself on the board of trustees of the NGO still spreading the word about health awareness and sustainable education both locally and globally.

Health sector in Nigeria

I have been practicing for almost 3 years now and can say categorically that health system in Nigeria is quite poor. In my humble opinion, one of the biggest health challenges is inaccessibility to quality health care. The Government performance in health sector has been abysmal. Investment in infrastructure has been poor and meager remuneration for health workers has created massive brain drain to the U.S and Europe. It is such a shame that despite the huge talents of Nigerians excelling in health sectors across the world, our own health system is failing.

So, my suggested solution to this problem lies in the Nigeria’s policy makers and health professionals including the Nigerian Diaspora to come together and create a long-term blue print for the sector. This shall involve intersectoral cooperation and collaboration between different health related ministries as partnership is very key in sustainability. The blueprint will include strategies, time lines and key performance indicators to ensure success its success in the long run. Creating the blue print and making it a reality is one of the most meaningful ways in improving health care for Nigerians.

Also, as health care professionals we must think of new, cost effective and innovative ideas to solve our healthcare problems. Several Nigerian digital health start-ups like HelloCareNg and Doctoorah are already doing work in this area. After all,being tech- savvy is very imperative in this world and era.

My Inspiration

My biggest inspiration comes from God the Almighty. I also get inspiration from my parents who are the real humanitarians and my biggest cheerleaders. I also get inspired daily by women all over the world achieving success in all their endeavours despite the setbacks of their background, culture and traditions. Lastly, I would say that all the volunteers I know inspire me by their selflessness and their enthusiasm with which they diligently offer their talent and service.

Being a woman of rubies

I am a young woman who takes immense pleasure in celebrating other women around Nigeria and the world. I think it is a trend we should all adopt as one’s woman success is ours too. Women should always support women and surround themselves who will do the same. It’s a huge honour for me to to even be featured on this great platform celebrating women and their successful stories of gallant exploits. And I hope someone reading this will get inspired and in turn inspire others .







Governors under the auspices of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum have summoned all 36 members to an emergency meeting to discuss the minimum wage and possibly take a common position.

The meeting, which is scheduled to hold in Abuja today, is said to be compulsory for all the 36 governors.

This was contained in a statement issued by the NGF secretariat in Abuja on Monday. The statement requested that all governors must attend in person.

The statement read in part, “Emergency meeting of governors over minimum wage will hold tomorrow at the NGF secretariat, Maitama, Abuja at 5pm.

“In attendance will be all governors, no representation. Various  stakeholders including the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, and the Minister of Labour, Senator Chris Ngige.”

Meanwhile, in what appears to be a last-minute desperate effort by the Federal Government to forestall a nationwide workers’ strike, members of the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo-led Economic Management Team will on Tuesday(today),  meet with state governors in an attempt to reach a consensus on the new national minimum wage.

The meeting is the second within 24 hours.

They had met on Monday on the same issue.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, disclosed the need for Tuesday’s meeting in an interview with State House correspondents at the end of Monday’s meeting.

The minister said, “We held a meeting for us to bring out modalities for us to respond to the emerging problems thrown up by the National Minimum wage Committee and we have very fruitful meeting which necessitated the governors having further meeting tomorrow (Tuesday).

“We will reconvene tomorrow (Tuesday) to brief the Economic Management Team and the Vice-President and we take it up from there.

“The governors will meet to take a position and brief the Economic Management Team. This meeting is only for the Tripartite Committee of the government side.”

The Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum and Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, also spoke with reporters at the end of the meeting.

Yari said while state governors were willing to pay the new minimum wage, ability to pay was key in arriving at a figure.

“The position of the governors is not very clear to some of you. We are willing to pay any amount but the issue is the capacity to pay,” he said.

Yari said the meeting discussed the proposal made by the organised labour and the figure proposed by the Federal Government.

He said, “The governors still haven’t come out with any figure.

“So, by tomorrow (Tuesday), we are going to discuss with our governors on the bill by the Minister of Labour and Employment to the NGF secretariat.

“We will digest it and come up with our own positions as governors because we are critical stakeholders on this issue.”

State governors who attended the meeting with Yari were Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu; Osun State Governor, Rauf Aragbesola; and Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong.

Apart from Osinbajo, others who attended the meeting from the side of the Federal Government were the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige; Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed; and Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma.


Culled from https://punchng.com/govs-hold-emergency-meeting-today-over-minimum-wage/amp/