Ibidun Ituah Ighodalo’s brother, Dare Ajayi is leading a campaign promoting awareness against stigmatizing people living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria.Its a golden walk that is already exciting a lot of people.Most people entertainers have started showing interest.
Nigeria is popular as having the world’s largest black population out of which about 3.5 million are HIV positive, with the city of Lagos having the highest prevalence in the South West, according to the national HIV/AIDS survey. But the Lagos State Government has been distinguishing itself consistently by ensuring that the people living with HIV in Nigeria still enjoy their full sense of dignity and human rights.
|9ice and Dare Ajayi|
Information gathered from an indigenous community-based organisation (CBO), Biire Child and Maternal Health Foundation revealed that the Lagos State Government in conjunction with the CBO is putting finishing touches to a project which aims to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the discovery of HIV world-wide in a record-making manner.
Tagged Lagos AIDS Walk and billed to hold on Saturday, November 26, 2011, the project is aimed at boosting the public awareness of an anti-stigma and anti-discrimination Law enacted in May, 2007 by the Lagos State Government under the leadership of the erstwhile Governor, Ashiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and also to increase the public patronage of the Law.
What is remarkable as record-making and outstanding about the 1-million-man Lagos AIDS Walk is that it provides the opportunity for its organizers, partner organizations and sponsor-brands to create the world’s largest human red-ribbon: the global symbol of humanitarian concern for HIV/AIDS around the first flyover on the Lagos Third Mainland Bridge.
Dare Ajayi, the Founder of Biire, the partnering CBO on the walkathon hinted that, “What is most exciting about the walk is the active passion and compassion in the high net worth personalities and celebrities who have signified their interests to join the anticipated thousands of walkers, all to be led by Ashiwaju (Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the erstwhile Lagos State Governor who signed the bill into law), the former president of Zambia Republic, Kenneth Kaunda (who is currently in Nigeria on a courtesy visit to President Goodluck Jonathan) and who have also endorsed the walkathon with the promise to participate in it”.
The 87-year old Mr. Kaunda actually lost one of his sons, Masuzgo Gwebe Kaunda, at his prime age of 30 in 1986 to AIDS, leaving behind six children. So, since Kaunda left the Zambian presidency, he has been helping children affected by AIDS in Africa, as well as promoting HIV awareness and research through his charitable organisation called Kenneth Kaunda Children of Africa Foundation.
According to information, renowned medical practitioner and elder statesman, Dr. Ore Falomo has also vowed to ensure the active participation of relevant medics in the walkathon en-masse.
And also among the prominent Nigerians committed to leading the walkathon are Pastor Ituah Ighodalo, the Founder and Senior Pastor of Trinity House, the wave-making interdenominational church based in Lagos.
Mr. Ajayi added that aside Cool FM and Wazobia FM several A-list entertainers have already registered to join the line-up and entertain at the walkathon, among whom are Gongo Aso-crooner – 9ice, Banky W, MI, Sound Sultan, Ty Bello, Nneka, Waje, Chidinma, JJC, Funke Akindele, and a host of others.
Ajayi disclosed that Biire already has the endorsement and partnership of the incumbent Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) alongside the State Ministry of Health and other key state ministries, more so because the State Government remains the only government – among the Federal, state or local governments – which has enacted the Law against stigmatization and discrimination of people living with HIV. The project, as we learnt, also has partners including the Society for Family Health, Nigerian Business Coalition Against AIDS (NIBUCAA), Lagos State AIDS Control Agency (LSACA), Afromedia, Cool FM and Wazobia FM as the Official Radio Partners, and certain corporate organisations which are discussing sponsorship of the walkathon with Biire as a matter of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
Dare Ajayi’s reputation in innovative activism, started during his post-graduate days in the London School of Economics (LSE) in 2003. When America invaded Iraq, he led members of the LSE African Society amongst ten thousand protesters in London in a peaceful demonstration against the American occupation of Iraq.
Subsequently, during his first job as the African Support Worker at the Gloucestershire AIDS Trust (Now Terrance Higgins Trust) in Gloucestershire, England, the dude advocated with reported innovation and aggression to ensure treatment and access to quality health care services for Africans (particularly undocumented immigrants) living with HIV in a quiet town called Cheltenham Spa. He was always in and out of the clinics ensuring that no one, particularly Africans, were denied of their fundamental human right to good health and life.
After realizing that Nigeria probably needed his service more with over 3 million people living with HIV as opposed to UK with only 70,000, he decided to return to the motherland. He joined the National Agency for the Control of AIDS upon his return to Nigeria, as a World Bank consultant, whose role was to support the mainstreaming of HIV into the Federal Ministries. He was later moved to the Government Affairs and CSO coordination unit where he interfaced with civil society networks and oversaw the World Bank HIV FUNDS to over 60 CSO groups including faith-based organizations and the private sector.
And in special empathy for pregnant women living with HIV, Dare resigned in 2010 after three years of national service and founded Biire Child and Maternal Health Foundation.