Thursday, 23 October 2014

Ebola Victory: A Metaphor of the Nigerian Spirit

Ebola Victory: A Metaphor of the Nigerian Spirit
Power corrupts, but lack of power corrupts absolutely.
-           Adlai Stevenson
On Monday, October 20, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared Nigeria Ebola-free. This is after having gone a whooping forty-one day period without recording any new case of infection and also after all of those under surveillance had successfully gone through the window period of the virus without manifesting symptoms and thus certified free of the infection.
The disease had found its way into Nigeria, early July, after a certain Liberian diplomat, Patrick Sawyer, smuggled himself into the country, knowing full well that he had been infected from taking care of a relative of his before she died of the disease. Many Nigerians suspected malice or a conspiracy of sorts in Sawyer’s action but his wife would put up a defense for her late husband that he actually sneaked into Nigeria because he believed he would be able to access better. Whatever his real motives were, he alone knew them and he lies with them in his grave today. For all of his failings as a human being, may God have mercy on him and grant him peaceful repose. Out of the nineteen recorded infections in Nigeria, eleven persons survived while eight others died joining Patrick Sawyer. We will never forget the courage of Dr Adadevoh and the young pregnant nurse, whose first day at First Consultant Medical Centre, Obalende, would expose her to her death; they were gallant. May God rest all of them.
But the Ebola exposure has brought out the best in and from Nigeria and Nigerians. Nigeria went full swing into the battle and came out victorious. Today, the nation is a reference point on how others can combat the epidemic. The government took the lead and every Nigerian joined unreservedly in the campaign. There is a legitimate good feeling in the country for having achieved this success. The government is justifiably basking in the unassailable victory. Confidence is welling up among Nigerian no matter how little. Talk about lemonade out of life’s lemons.
This is an eloquent metaphor of the kind of people and nation that await purposeful leadership in this country. Nigerians have been dubbed skeptics and cynics for not believing or trusting their governments; but indeed cynics and skeptics have been made out of them because of successive dashed hopes. They have trusted and have been let down. They look at peer-nations like Singapore, Malaysia and Ghana and see strides made even under military juntas and wonder why theirs have only brought them suffering and deepened mutual suspicion amongst fellow compatriots. They look at others like Botswana and Rwanda and wonder how their own foray into democracy has not been able to place them on the path of progress. Even if they do not know or realize it, it’s not as if Nigerians expect some magic of overnight success. They just want to see clearly that they on some path that leads to good. Any leadership that puts them on such a path Nigerians will follow before long; and this has been proven.
Before Fashola no one ever believed that Lagos will be what it is today. But even before Fashola himself, then Col Marwa sparked that hope but successive governments never picked the gauntlet. Fashola did it and, in spite of the initial discomforts, Lagosians gave his government their full backing hence, this laud we are singing of the state. Another hitherto thought difficult state is Kano. Just like Lagos, people thought that little facilities such as traffic lights were incapable of working in the town. Kwankwaso came and proved everyone wrong. Traffic lights and many more amenities were put in place and rules enforced; even commercial bike operators were expelled from the town; street begging was outlawed. To the surprise of all, Kanawa did not just fall in line but fell in love with such purposeful governance. Before then, the lawlessness on the streets of Kano and the swarm of beggars were enough to snuff the living daylight out of one. These are not the only examples: there are Cross Rivers and Akwa Ibom states.
All of the above have proven very eloquently that all Nigerians need is the kind of leadership that walks the talk; one that is ready to set them on the path to good and is seen unequivocally on that path. They are ready to sacrifice to follow. The Ebola campaign has shown that to the whole world. Infact Nigerians will go to lengths to work for their individual, hence collective, good. Or what can one say of the “salt-baths” across the country on the night of August 7? Funny as it seemed, it demonstrated the survival quotient of the average Nigerian and his readiness to fall in line given the right environment, if the law of invisible hand, which states that in order to satisfy ones desires one necessarily has to satisfy those of others, is anything to go by.
We congratulate this government, of Goodluck Jonathan, for the success of this Ebola campaign. They have seen how Nigerians have cooperated. If they had approached many other issues in this manner, they would have long had Nigerians in their kitty.

BLUEPRINT Newspaper; Oct 23, 2014; p3

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