Contradictions of Abuja III


In 2008 …the erstwhile Minister of our Federal Capital announced with great fanfare that smoking was banned in Abuja! Thisday declared that the is a master stroke that signifies a new dawn for the city’s public health. Just before that…there was fanfare in the press as it was reported that the Nigerian government was suing three international tobacco firms for $44bn (£22bn) – the first such case in the developing world….wow…I thought…our government is waking up to taking its public health responsibilities seriously! The billboards still stand tall in strategic locations.

So the other day …when PHCN had dome the usual, we had run out of diesel and the inverter was not charged as we had not had power for days…I left the house to search for a bar to watch the midweek chamions league game between Arsenal and Celtic.

Was I surprised that not in a single bar did anyone pay attention to the so called smoking ban…of course not!

Was I surprised that Arsenal cruised to an other conmfortable win…….of course not!

Most inportant is that we have a billboard a large billboard, quite impressive for our visitiors when the come down “Bill Clinton” from the airport….it is reassuring to note that smoking is still banned…at least on-paper.


Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has…Margaret Mead

Chikwe Ihekweazu is an epidemiologist and consultant public health physician. He is the Editor of Nigeria Health Watch, and the Managing Partner of EpiAfric (, which provides expertise in public health research and advisory services, health communication and professional development. He previously held leadership roles at the South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases and the UK's Health Protection Agency. Chikwe has undertaken several short term consultancies for the World Health Organisation, mainly in response to major outbreaks. He is a TED Fellow and co-curator of TEDxEuston.

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