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Published On: Sun, Aug 24th, 2014

Ebola: One mad man, multiple tragedies and gains

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ebola outbreakBy Ahmad Sajoh

When President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan said the Ebola Virus Disease was brought to Nigeria by one madman by name Dr. Patrick Sawyer, many People believed he was right. But was Dr. Sawyer really a madman? Or was he a desperate patient looking for better health care as his supposed wife wants us to believe? But come to think of it, if he is truly mad, will the ECOWAS put him on a list of delegates for a meeting in Nigeria? And if he is looking for better health facilities will Nigeria whose Medical Doctors are on strike be his first option ? Most of these postulations do not just add up.

However, to make matters worse, new conspiracy theories are being woven around the whole scenario. I have read severally on social media and listened to a lot of Bus-stop chats where people claim that the Federal Government brought in Mr. Sawyer and his Ebola Virus to find a new centre of discussion away from BokoHaram, Chibok and even the controversial new single-term infested draft constitution. Others are also saying that the coming of Ebola to the shores of Nigeria will create opportunities for some

Government fat cats to make money from the tragedies of ordinary citizens.

This has been our bane always. Whenever people’s welfare is in contention, officials of government use the opportunity to permutate on their own gains from the process.

But in truth the Ebola Virus is tragic for the country. It has caused deaths, it has created panic and above all it is affecting how we relate to each other. When I saw a video clip of Ministers of the Federal Republic

hitting knuckles as a form of greeting rather than handshakes during their weekly Federal Executive Council meeting, I felt sad. Why should people at the highest levels of leadership in the country display such comical expression as a statement on Ebola? Are they really aware that they are encouraging the sense of panic in the land? Are they aware that the hold our collect trust and desire to remain courageous and stead fast in the face of all tragedies?

A few weeks back, some smart bitter kola merchants played a smart one on gullible Nigerians by saying the fruit was an antidote to Ebola. Many people went wild on the fruit. A piece was bought for as high as N500.00. A few people, who normally made less than N1000.00 sales a day, suddenly sold their wares to the tune of N10, 000.00 or more. In the end, it turned out to be a hoax. But if that was a pain in the pocket and just a bitter taste in the mouth, what followed a few days later was a Monumental tragedy for the Nation. Some very wicked persons played a stupid prank on most Nigerians by Sending text messages to the effected that bathing with and sipping brine will protect one from contacting Ebola Virus. Pronto, people started taking salt water all over the country. Various version of it came up. Some said it has to be taken in the dead of the night. Others introduced some incantations to go with it. In the end many people with high blood pressure suffered adverse Consequence. A number of deaths from such misfortune were reported to have occurred in Jos.

From Jalingo in Taraba State came reports that women with early pregnancies were said to have suffered miscarriages. A number of fatalities were also recorded in some other locations. Salt Water as Ebola Cure? Well that is Nigeria. When I heard of it while in Sokoto, I quickly got in touch with my family and warned them not to partake in the evil ritual. I had a number of questions for the advocates of the salt water solution. What were the specifications? How much salt and to how many litres of water? What

quantities of brine are to be consumed? Why did the proponents of the salt water solution introduce incantations and what are they? Supposing Moslems had their own incantations, and Christians had a different one, which one truly works? I wonder if Babalawo’s had their own incantations too. But then the reality is that the whole process is a big hoax. Who was responsible for this assault on our collective psyche? Only God knows.

Another set of victims of the Ebola scare are the sellers and consumers of a popular delicacy that goes by the name “Bush Meat “ it is usually processed meat from bush Animals. The sale of such meat has even been banned officially by some state Governments. I’m sure animal right activists and environmentalist will rejoice at this God sent reprieve for some evidently endangered species of Animals. For the hunters, sellers and consumers, it is really tragic. But for the Animals, Animal rights activists and environmentalist, it is indeed very cheering news. Dr. Patrick Sawyer may be one mad man who brought the Ebola Virus to Nigeria, but the gift he delivered to the country has multiple effects.

Unfortunately most of it is tragic. Those who may claim some benefit from the occurrence are indeed very few. But some of them may surely smile home with millions of Naira, because in Nigeria, every tragedy is a means to make money for some people.

The Ebola epidemic may not be over, but there are countless lessons to learn from it. The most important lesson for us is the reality of the universality of tragedy. We have always reacted to tragic occurrence in other lands as alien to us. We have often ignored such occurrences and faked immunity to them. Now Ebola has taught us that Liberia is not too far away from Nigeria. In the like manner, I wish those who see the Boko Haram insurgency as essentially a North-East phenomenon should begin to have a rethink. It is a Nigerian problem and could consume the whole Nation if not properly addressed. The sacking of Gwaza is a Metaphor for the vulnerability of the entire Nigerian Nation. We are paying too much premium

to politics at the expense of all other Socio-Economic needs of the Nation.

We have allowed politics to consume all our attention. What we need is sufficient political will to address pressing issues and national calamities such as Boko Haram and the outbreak of Ebola Virus in our land.

Ahmad Sajoh wrote in from Wauru Jabbe, Jimeta- Yola

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