Tunde Fagbenle: We should thank Fashola for curtailing Ebola

by Tunde Fagbenle

A few weeks ago when the news went viral (no pun intended) on the presence in Nigeria of the dreaded Ebola virus, the most deadly of the three or so identified types of haemorrhagic fever, we feared the worst.

A country notoriously inept at meeting national challenges of any kind, not the least health or security, the alarm of Ebola’s entry in our shores through a Liberian-American index carrier, Mr. Patrick Sawyer, who unconscionably defied reason to fly into Nigeria knowing full well that he was infected and the danger his situation, mishandled, represented to any community and humanity at large created panic and brought images of Armageddon to many minds.


Amazingly, Nigeria has responded this time differently and superbly such that the international community, oft given to rubbishing us, has, even if grudgingly, given Nigeria some credit and praise.

It is moments like this that makes one truly proud to be a Nigerian, reinforcing what one had always known that given the right leadership we are a nation that can leapfrog into reckoning amongst the most developed in the world. We know it; those of us who have had the opportunity of schooling or working abroad know it. We know how we beat the oyinbo folk academically, theoretically, and practically in virtually all spheres of human endeavour. The brain of the Nigerian is one to be globally respected.

I am in one of those rare uplifted moods seeing how Nigeria, especially through Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola of Lagos State, has responded to the challenge of the Ebola scourge. And I want to say thank you BRF.

I am also going to single out one media house to thank, even whilst recognising that virtually all our media outfits have risen admirably to the challenge of keeping the campaign against Ebola on the front burner. Channels Television has been, and remains, exceptionally brilliant in the depth and extent of their coverage and analyses; and in the quality and range of interviewees they bring to us every day. I am proud of them. My brother John Momoh’s Channels TV has grown to become Nigeria’s equivalent of CNN, even outperforming CNN at times.

What did Fashola’s Lagos State do? Instantly, Lagos State crash-trained lab technicians and civil servants on methods of checking for the Ebola virus; recruited hundreds of volunteers — providing them with some stipends and life insurance — to handle complex contact tracing, barrier nursing, infection control and critical care management; swung into massive hunt and cold-call of scores of people, from ordinary workers to diplomats and important personalities, who might have come into contact with the index case; scores of isolation units sprung up in a matter of a few days; and, importantly, saturated the public spaces with enlightenment campaign through all media forms – conventional, visual, social, etc.

I am in one of those rare uplifted moods seeing how Nigeria, especially through Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola of Lagos State, has responded to the challenge of the Ebola scourge. And I want to say thank you BRF.


True, we are not out of the woods yet, after all we have just heard of some rogue cases in Port Harcourt and Kaduna, but it is the response of Lagos State, the hotbed of dizzying conurbation where the index case was first identified, that has enabled the present containment and given hope to Nigeria and Nigerians.

The challenge to President Goodluck Jonathan, as to all thinking governments, is to direct attention and charge and fund our pharmacists, our medical scientists, including our medical herbalists, to put their thinking caps on, research and develop our own indigenous herbs and cure for the dreaded Ebola and other such mysterious plagues to save our own people and earn the respect of the world. Respect we won’t get by the cap-in-hand mentality.

For now, the campaign must continue and be intensified throughout the country. We shall overcome!

And that’s saying it the way it is!


Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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