Category Archives: Research & Academic Writing

How And Why We Kill Our Mothers: Rates Of Maternal Mortality In Nigeria



In this post, Ibraheem Dooba weeps over the avoidable carnage of maternal mortality in Nigeria.  It’s simply unacceptable he argues.maternal mortality in nigeria

“What would we have done if it were a plane crash?” Dr. Umar Tiffin, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Health in one of the northcentral states, told me when I asked him to explain the rate of maternal mortality in Nigeria  to me.

I, in turn, purposed to explain the plans better for the general public to understand. “What would we have done if that led to multiple plane crashes?” Dr. Tiffin asked again to direct my attention to the careless and avoidable deaths of women in Nigeria. “Would the president declare emergency if, regularly, we lost 576 individuals to plane crashes in Nigeria? What would the media do? Would our governors run in every direction seeking solutions? What about the general population? What would they ask the government to do? Would they call for probes and ask for the heads of the people in charge of the aviation sector?”

Depressing statistics on maternal mortality in Nigeria

Maternal mortality is a fancy name for pregnancy-related death, if the definition by the International Classification of Diseases holds. And if I’m to draw from the 2013 data of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Nigeria accounts for 14% of worldwide maternal mortality. Seeing that we’re less than 3% of the world’s population, this statistics is unflattering, disturbing even.

In Nigeria, maternal deaths account for 32% of all deaths among women age 15-49, according to the Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) 2013. NDHS is published by the National Population Commission with inputs from other agencies and international partners.

What this means is that if 100 women died last month, 32 of them would hav died due to child-bearing related illnesses.

Many things kill women: accidents, cancer, AIDS, natural disasters, wars, etc. But when only one cause of death takes up 32% of their lives, every government must sit up and do something.

That was why more than 10 years ago, in 2004, Nigeria released a policy called the National Policy for Sustainable Development, with the objective of improving the quality of life and standard of living of the Nigerian population.

Specifically, it wanted to:

— reduce the infant mortality rate to 35 per 1,000 live births by 2015

— reduce the child mortality rate to 45 per 1,000 live births by 2010

— reduce the maternal mortality ratio to 125 per 100,000 live births by 2010 and to 75 by 2015.

Unfortunately, we must lower our heads in shame because, if the NDHS 2013 is an indication, we’re nowhere near achieving these targets. For example, we wanted to reduce the maternal mortality ratio to 125 per 100,000 live births by 2010, but it was 576 in 2013!

Dr. Tiffin’s plane crash analogy merits another attention. I’ve a friend who is a pilot and who told me that about 100,000 passengers travel by air in Nigeria every year. The fact that this is less than the traffic received from only one airport in South Africa shows that we don’t use this form of transportation much in Nigeria, but that is a matter for another day.

However, imagine that 576 people die out of these 100,000 passengers from plane crashes. Also imagine that they don’t all die at once: a plane would crash today, another next month, etc. throughout the year. Also imagine that they are from avoidable causes such as malfunctioning equipment and human error. Would we have done something? Probably. But it appears we’ve not done anything on maternal mortality – we consistently neglect our mothers.

NDHS 2013 noted: “The maternal mortality ratio was 576 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births for the seven-year period preceding the survey. This ratio is not significantly different from the ratio reported in the 2008 NDHS.

“The lifetime risk of maternal death indicates that 1 in 30 women in Nigeria will have a death related to pregnancy or childbearing.”

You would shake your head when you look at a young lady in the university and discover that 44% of deaths in her age group (20-24 years) is pregnancy-related.

In fact, the closer you get to your child-bearing years and the longer you stay in it, the higher your chances of dying. That’s if you’re female. Not surprisingly, all the 10 countries with the highest maternal mortality are in Africa. This means that in other countries, women don’t die when they’re pregnant, in ours, that’s about all they do!

Our women are supposed to be queens and princesses, but here, they’re beasts of burden. We burden them and subject them to all tasks imaginable – the ignoble ones and the painful ones. Yet we don’t care enough to keep them alive.

Additionally, women’s must prized possessions, their children, do not fare better. We kill our children the way we kill their mothers.

The 2004 policy wanted the infant and under-five mortality rates to be 35% and 45% respectively. However, these in the past five years are 69 and 128 deaths per 1,000 live births, respectively, the NDHS 2013 says. At these mortality levels, one in every 15 Nigerian children dies before reaching age one, and one in every eight does not survive to their fifth birthday.

More simply, 12.5% of our children die before the age of five.

How do we kill our women? Through maternal mortality. Why? Because we don’t care.

Part two of this essay will delve into the experts’ consensus of what we must do to show we care, and in doing so, reduce our maternal mortality to zero.

Author, Ibraheem Dooba

Follow Dr. Dooba, a data scientist, on Twitter or email him at

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For more information on maternal mortality in Nigeria, visit the website of the National Bureau of Statistics.

Three Reasons Why Yoruba People Will Not Vote President Jonathan

The laughable National Conference report

First, President Jonathan tried to outsmart the Yoruba by offering them theNational Conference. But how can he outsmart the Yoruba, a people so intelligent that Jonathan would have his brains in knots should he try any of their mental feats!

It’s now clear that President Jonathan, although he’s promised to do so, won’t implement the recommendations of the conference if he wins re-election. Even if he does implement them, it won’t be what the Yoruba people want.

“Is Jonathan going to remove immunity clause as recommended by the conference? No,” Dr Haruna Yerima, an academic and one of the four hundred delegates to the National Conference, said in an interview with Daily Trust, before asking, “What is there in the report that he is using now to cajole the southwest people into voting for him?”

The former member of the House of Representatives said the report paid scant attention to corruption and inequality issues in the country.

“The report didn’t give the southwest people their age-long desire of true federalism. In fact, nobody talked about it at the conference. It also didn’t give them the parliamentary system as well as the regional system of government they requested for during the conference. So, what is there for them?” he queried.

He said the Southwest wouldn’t trust Jonathan after “six years without doing anything for them. He is just desperate. He needs their votes to short-change them again.”

But the Southwest is too smart to be short-changed that way. Even Mama Sikira, the famous akara seller, wouldn’t be fooled by this.

Targeted Yoruba sackings

Chief Kola Aderemi wrote in The Nation of December 23 last year that President Jonathan must have something against the Yoruba to allow for such sustained ill-treatment.

“Nothing illustrates President Jonathan’s hatred for Yoruba better than the way he removed some Yoruba people from key positions on allegation of being too close to the former President Olusegun Obasanjo,” he said. “To buttress my point, I recalled how he removed Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola as the PDP secretary. Mr Yomi Bolarinwa was removed as DG of Nigeria Broadcasting Commission; Otunba Segun Runsewe was removed as DG of Nigerian Tourism Development Commission, and they were replaced with Igbo people.”

Here is a selection of other Yoruba people that Jonathan sacked that chief forgot to mention: Olu Oluleye, executive secretary, the Petroleum Trust Development Fund (PTDF). Dr Samuel Oduselu, CEO of the Accident Investigation Bureau.

Stella Oduah sacked eight general managers at the FAAN in 2014, six of them Yoruba. The same minister employed 75 workers, 40 of them are from the Southeast, her geo-political zone.

The minister sacked Captain Adebayo Araba, rector of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, Zaria,  and replaced him with Captain Chinyere Kalu from the Southeast. Also Mrs Ola Onagoruwa, Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises, was sacked for “undisclosed reasons”.

The issue of the Yorubas being deliberately replaced by the Igbo people is debatable, but it is a fact that, immediately after Yar’Adua died, Jonathan went on Yoruba sacking spree. The result? Other than the constitutionally-required appointments, Yorubas are invisible in his government.

The Yoruba people moved from the number one position (in President Obasanjo “era”) to number 22. I’m not exactly sure how this reckoning was done, but the victims must have taken their time to do the counting.

President Jonathan betrayed their votes

The Yoruba people don’t deserve this neglect. Many of them voted for him in 2011, but he’s got this weird conviction that those who voted him in the Southwest and the North are the Igbo residents of those areas.

I sometimes do my morning jog with a Yoruba woman, a Muslim, who told me that she voted Jonathan in 2011 because she thought that was justice — because Niger Delta produces a chunk of the government income. However, she wouldn’t repeat that mistake again in 2015. Not because Jonathan dislikes the Yoruba people, but because the guy is useless to everybody, including the long-suffering people of the Niger Delta.

My own friend for many years, also a Yoruba Muslim (from the North), gave me the same reason for supporting Jonathan in 2011. This “sense of justice” reason makes me believe that must be something embedded in their culture.

During our time in the diaspora, I had many Nigerian friends. The most religious of us and one of my closest neighbours is a Yoruba Muslim. His old father in Nigeria was also religious and in 2011, he was preparing to vote for Goodluck Jonathan. My friend’s father, may God rest his soul, died this year. His children, however, are still alive and would not accept Jonathan in 2015 even if you dressed him in gold.

Make of that what you will, but the northern Yoruba and their southern brethren – Muslim and Christians – supported the president four years ago.

It’s the reason why the Yoruba people shouldn’t let this betrayal go unpunished. The fortunate thing for Nigerians, and, particularly, the APC, is that many of them have long resolved to do this. That sense of justice will be used to shoot down Jonathan this month.

Dear Yoruba brethren, you are an intelligent set of people. Do us all a favour, I call upon you in supplication: don’t vote Jonathan.

As of this moment, the only Yoruba group which supports Jonathan is Afenifere. However, even Afenifere is divided. Afenifere Renewal Organization (ARG) said they didn’t support the endorsement of Jonathan enacted by Yinka Odumankin’s group. So the authentic Afenifere doesn’t support the president.

The US-based Oodua organization also distanced itself from the self-serving endorsement of Odumankin’s group.

Moshood Erubami, civil rights activist, summed it up: “No real Yoruba man or woman who supports a pan-Yoruba political and developmental agenda will vote for Jonathan in the coming election, because the Southwest has not gained anything from his administration.”

So let’s have a bloc vote from this savvy and enterprising race. Jonathan shouldn’t continue, the Yoruba ought not allow him!

Dr Ibraheem Dooba

Dr Dooba is a data scientist, a teacher and a columnist.

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