Ebola looms – The Nation

  • Kudos for House of Representatives for drawing nation’s attention

It may be without evidence as yet, but it was appropriate that the House of Representatives has cautioned the nation and the Federal Government to be alert to the possibility of a fresh outbreak of the dreaded disease.

Ebola, not willing to relent in its carnage around the continent, was declared wiped out in Nigeria by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The disease that expired in the country in 2014 caused great panic just as it recorded a number of victims nationwide.

The disease penetrated the country through its borders, especially the airports. The House adopted a motion entitled, “Looming reoccurrence of Ebola crisis in Nigeria,” and it was motioned by Paschal Obi. The House tasked the Federal Ministry of Health to “deploy materials and personnel at the airports, seaports, and land borders for carrying out screening exercises on passengers.”

Although it directed its appeal to the federal authority, it is not a burden on the centre alone. We may recall that it also took the personal example of former Governor of Lagos State, now Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, (SAN), and his disciplined command of the personal and resources of the state for the epidemic to come to an end.

The House was also on point to have called for a revival of screening at the borders. Some of the problems the last time it petrified Nigerians were the footloose borders. Specific instances were cited of individuals who passed through our security checks and infected citizens. We should not allow this to repeat itself.

The case of Dr. Stella Ameyo Adadevoh cannot be forgotten. It demonstrated how it knows no professional, no person of high estate, or a person of integrity. It does not discriminate in its ravages. Adadevoh’s case was a costly human error in her Hippocratic zeal to save a fellow citizen and human.

We commend the House for observing a minute silence in honour of the heroine as well as her team and all Nigerians who lost their lives in the brief but searing hour of history. We associate with the House member, Moshood Akiolu, for his motion entitled, Immortalisation of Dr. Stella Ameyo Adadevoh.

Recognising persons like Adadevoh and her team is not in the league of men and women who earn plaudits for political reasons or because of the coincidence of their connections. This woman did a great deed and lost her best treasure: her life. She might have been alive today if she did not defy the Liberian government’s request not to put their citizen, often described as patient zero, Patrick Sawyer, in quarantine. Placing him out of contact with other humans kept the patient away from infecting people at random across the city and on his way home to Liberia.

Nigeria is a densely populated country, and one virus on a person of social network and mobility is all it needs to send a scare as well as a trail of obituaries across the country.

Lagos tends to be the great port of call. And Lagos is so difficult to manage because of its byways and arteries, and so it was something close to a gift of a miracle that former Governor Fashola helped nip Ebola in the bud.

The closure of the land borders will seem a fortuitous advantage in warding off the disease. But persons still cross the borders, if drastically reduced. Customs and immigration officers should be involved in the exercise of border integrity in keeping the disease away.

The states of the federation should also not wait to hear before rallying resources. Now is the time. Always is the time. We love Adadevoh but we don’t want to make heroes through carelessness.

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