Jonathan: APC and the Ebola mischief
By Chika Onuora
The All Progressives Congress, APC, is at it again. The party does not fail to live to its billing in raking up unnecessary controversy all in an effort to play what it understands as “opposition politics.” Just when we were settling to enjoy the last Muslim festival holidays, its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed barged into our consciousness with an attempt to turn logic on its head. The issue this time: President Goodluck Jonathan and his Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, should not take full credit for the country's successful containment of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). To him, “a collective effort” should not belong to the Federal Government alone.
As usual, Lai was lying and trying to distort facts. The President had, in his speech at the church service to mark Nigeria's independence anniversary at the Ecumenical Centre, alluded to the defeat of Ebola in Nigeria as the fruit of bi-partisan cooperation. While paying tribute to the health workers who paid the ultimate price in that war against Ebola, Jonathan commended the non-partisan collaborative approaches that resulted in containing the spread of the virus. In spite of that statesmanlike speech, Lai Mohammed preferred a special credit to the APC governors of Lagos and Rivers States, two of the states in which it was reported. It didn't matter to Lai Mohammed that the contribution of both governors mainly centred on coordination of the various volunteer groups that sprang up to assist in managing the crisis.
It is either Lai Mohammed does not understand the context in which President Jonathan spoke or he is deliberately distorting the issue in his usual effort to justify his position as APC spokesman. Why would he prefer to draw the lines of party affiliation in that humanitarian issue in which Nigeria has received collective commendation across the world? It can only be for parochial reasons. Like in every issue of this nature in which people's welfare must be considered first, Jonathan has played down the political leanings of governors of those states. Like the war on insurgency which was started in states managed by APC governors, efforts to eradicate Ebola in Nigeria were not waged with partisan political considerations in mind.
It is difficult to understand Lai Mohammed's argument, and what political capital he intends to get from the argument. While in one breath he acknowledged that Health Minister, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu exhibited uncommon professionalism and purposefulness, in another breath he claimed that it would be uncharitable for the PDP-led Federal Government of which he is part, to take credit. That is the height of illogic by a man blinded by hatred for this single national accomplishment. Truth be told, if credit must be given at all, the Jonathan administration has fully earned it and it is not something Lai Mohammed should be hysterical about.
While the World Health Organization, WHO, commended the Nigerian Government's efforts in containing the spread of Ebola, an impressed US Government has even sent experts to understudy how the Jonathan administration accomplished the feat even without medical support from the US and WHO. At the emergency session of the United Nations Security Council on Ebola, the WHO Director-General, Margaret Chan, had told participants to take a cue from Nigeria's success in tackling “the greatest peacetime challenge that the UN and its agencies have ever faced”.
For a disease which infected over 5000 people and killed 2,500, according to reports, Nigeria recorded 19 confirmed cases with only 7deaths. This came about due mainly to the Jonathan administration's promptness, purposefulness and doggedness in facing the unusual challenge. To further underscore Nigeria's success, the last case of the disease was successfully discharged a clear 30 days back on September 10 from the Ebola Isolation Centre.
The APC behaves like a child that wants to have his cake and still eat it. It is envious of the commendation being showered on the Jonathan administration on the Ebola issue; it prefers its governors in Lagos and Rivers to be given the credit, yet it wants its governors in the states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa absolved from their seeming failure to combat Boko Haram and rescue of the Chibok girls. The question is: would the lying party have blamed the APC governors in Lagos and Rivers states if the Ebola issue had been mishandled and turned to an unsavoury story for Nigeria?
While it is not a time here to apportion blames, the failing of the Rivers and Lagos States Governments in managing the crisis, are all too obvious. That of Lagos is summarized in the statement by Ada Igonoh, a doctor at First Consultants Hospital, an Ebola survivor who had certified Sawyer dead. She had described the environment at the “female ward” she was admitted into at the state-government-run Lagos Mainland Hospital – the main infectious diseases facility, as shocking with poor sanitary condition. “The sheets were not changed for days. The floor was stained with greenish vomitus and excrement… Mosquitoes were our roommates until they brought us mosquito nets…” How Governor Fashola managed, or mismanaged the N200m Federal government donation to Lagos State Government to help in curtailing the spread of this deadly scourge and in the management of its impact, is an issue for another day.
While the President and the Health Minister have severally commended the governors of the two APC states hit by Ebola for their contributions towards the successful containment of the virulent disease, it is obvious that the Jonathan-led federal administration guided the battle against the disease. But Ebola was not a political party matter and the unfortunate demise of Mrs Adedevoh and other Health officials who paid the price in the battle to contain it, are not issues that APC can appropriate for partisan political gains.
Like the CDC Director Tom Frieden stated, Nigeria's “extensive response to a single case of Ebola shows that control is possible with rapid, focused interventions.” It is such a commendation that we should celebrate, not the warped logic of Lai Mohammed who has clearly been blinded by partisan political interests.
Chika Onuora sent this piece from Asokoro, Abuja.
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