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Alban Anonyuo: Bouquet of laurels for rare friend of the rejected

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SOME activists are of very rare breed. Their missions and methods distinguish them. Alban Menkiti Nnanna Anonyuo’s life-long campaign path not only marks him out of a crowd, it tells a unique story of success reaped from rare passion and dogged drive.

On Monday, at the Nigeria Air Force Officer’s Mess and Suites, Kado, Abuja the awards, Alban Menkiti Nnanna Anonyuo was granted an award of honour for his efforts in the global campaign against HIV/AIDS

A dinner dubbed: ‘A Night to Remember,’was organised by the United States of America Embassy in Nigeria, in which Ambassador, W. Stuart Symington bestowed the honour on the Ihiala, Anambra State born social mobiliser.

Described as a selfless and courageous activist, Mr Anonyuo, founder and pioneer national  coordinator of the seven-year-old campaign body, Civil Society on Health and Rights of Women and Girls in Nigeria (CiSHRWIN) is a rare breed in activism. Within the past 18 years he has been involved in campaigns that seek equity for all females irrespective of class or creed. This earned him the appellation, ‘professor of sex workers’.

Women, girls, including sex workers and even socially stigmatised  hookers get effective cover under the wings of his campaigns. His thrust is all forms of HIV intervention, a mission through which he pushes locally and globally, for the recognition and incorporation of female sex workers as key constituents and core population in HIV/AIDS interventions” nationally and internationally.

He promoted and secured global funding for the hosting of the first and only inauguration of the National Association of Sex Workers in Nigeria. He is also founder or co-founder of several welfare organisations for women and HIV/AIDS causes such as the CAC-registered Precious Red Diamond (PREDIWOR) and the national Key population (KP) among others.

His profile features feats of courage, bravery and sole focus on activism. During the early days of HIV in Nigeria, he devised a conspicuous mode of creating awareness, not minding the possibility of social stigmatisation. He branded two of his vehicles for a project he dubbed, ‘Mobile Interventions.’ Through the project, he took HIV/AIDS sensitisation messages and intervention products directly to sex workers, in their communes both in remote and urban areas. His organisation initiated the night intervention program for sex workers in the federal capital territory (FCT), Abuja.

The campaign moved from the hookers’ hubs to brothels, nightclubs, red light zones and streets which earned him HIV Heroes Award.

Mr Anonyuo describes himself as an avid seeker of knowledge and higher grounds in his chosen area of activism. He informs that he has “attended uncountable number of capacity building sessions in different thematic focus areas that came in different formats and fora.” Among such sessions are trainings, workshops, seminars, conferences, symposia, held both in Nigeria and abroad

Participation and facilitation in such vital HIV/AIDS-focused  intervention programs such as the ones for prevention and care; for strengthening Nigeria’s response to the epidemic; for strategic behavioral communication and for vulnerable population as well as capacity building fora on leadership, conflict resolution and managing risks in social campaign projects have honed Anonyuo’s skills in his field of social campaign.

The married father of four who had earlier won a plethora of awards in the HIV/AIDS awareness activism, has also participated in several World Health Organization (WHO) and World Bank platforms across Africa.

Currently the national co-ordinator of Nigeria Diversity Network (Network for Key Populations), the pioneer chairman of the Association of Civil Society on HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (ACSAN), the umbrella network of 13 civil society networks on HIV/AIDS in the country, competence and experience in the field of social work is overwhelming. He disclosed that he currently working on a memoir tentatively titled, ‘My Memoir: Sacrificing for Sex Work and Sex Workers in Nigeria’.

He describes himself as a man who is “goal-driven, daring…, self-motivated, innovative, socially effective,” and imbued with “planning and organisation ability, good team spirit,” among other attributes which the success of his social mobilisation venture and the flurry of recognitions buttress.

The United States of America Embassy awards to Anonyuo, chief executive officer of curiously named, RENEGAIDS adds a lot of feathers to his now greying crown despite his youthful age.

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