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Published On: Mon, Jan 5th, 2015

Signs of hope for 2015, ignited by the plusses of 2014

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2015 LoadingBy Evelyn Okakwu

The year 2014 may have had a couple of difficult moments for Nigeria, but here also, is a list of some notable events that made the country stand out, even among the international community.

During the year 1914, the Northern and southern protectorates of Nigeria, were brought together in an amalgamation that made Nigeria one.

The amalgamation which was coordinated by the then British colonial masters through their protégé, Governor-General Lord Laggard in 1914, was canvassed by various leaders of Nigeria; and although the country has seen lengths of criticism regarding the said amalgamation, Nigeria remained as intended by our forefathers, hundred years after the amalgamation.

A country with vast ethnic and religious diversity, Nigeria was able to surmount challenges, such that hundred years after, Nigerians came together to celebrate the nation’s centenary; a century of oneness in the face of obstacles.

Also, the West African economic Summit on Africa (WEFA) which was held last year in Abuja, between the 7th and 9th May was reported to be the first time the global event took place on the soil of West Africa since the African edition was convened in Switzerland in 1990.

Nigeria began its move to host the event, during the 22nd WEFA which held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 2012 and was galvanised in Cape Town, South Africa in May 2013 when President Goodluck Jonathan, GCFR led a high-powered government and private sector delegation to the 23rd edition of the forum.

According to previous reports; “When Nigeria’s slot for hosting the event was fully stamped in Davos, Switzerland in January 2014, the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo- Iweala stated that the august event was coming at a time when Nigeria is becoming more integrated into global capital markets and when the country’s aspirations to attract foreign investment into non-mineral sectors is becoming increasingly viable”.

“Veritably, the WEFA Abuja provided a platform for Nigeria to take the conversation further on how to build more credible institutions for a social protection programme, an expansion of healthcare and a long-overdue overhaul of the education system”.

President Jonathan stated in his opening address, alongside the Premier of the People’s Republic of China, Mr. Li Keqiang, that the fact that more than 1,000 people from over 70 countries turned up for the meetings despite all the issues, media reports and facts about Nigeria, was a sign of the confidence we all have in this great country. He declared that as a people and an international community, we cannot allow terrorism to dictate our agenda.

In his closing remarks, Mr Philipp Rösler, the Managing Director of the World Economic Forum remarked that the Nigeria and indeed, Africa should be proud of the outcome of the 24th WEFA in Abuja as it was the most successful thus far comparing only to the Davos edition.

According to him, the meetings fully achieved the WEF mission towards the commitment to the growth of the world through creation of community of interest, community of purpose and community of exchange.

Put succinctly; the WEFA attracted over 68 billion dollars (about N12.9 trillion) in investment to the African continent in the form of Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) as well as private and public investments targeted at projects that would foster the agriculture sector, improve infrastructure such as roads, railways, hospitals, education, skill development and ICT across African countries.

Remarkably, the meeting birthed an institutionalised response to the abduction of over 200 schoolgirls in Chibok, with the creation of a $20billion ‘Safe School Initiative Fund’ by the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Mr. Gordon Brown, to develop and enhance education in the terrorism-ravaged areas of Nigeria. The Nigerian Government has committed US10b to this Fund while the other half comes from the UN.

In a nutshell, the immediate outcome of the 24th WEF in Abuja, beyond just money, brought opportunities for Africa which the World Economic Forum was set up to unlock for the improvement in the states of Africa.

As indicated by the reports; “It has proved also that there is a strong commitment between the private and the public sector to collaborate regionally and globally in the fight against poverty, social exclusion, and terror in Nigeria and the rest of Africa.

Also in the Agricultural terrain, December last year, Nigeria was declared world largest producer of yam. This is in addition to been the world largest producer of Cassava; a record that Nigeria has maintained for some time.

Another notable event is the indomitable manner of commitment by the Nigerian government towards the fight against Ebola.

Within a span of four months, Nigeria was able to conquer the scourge of Ebola; haven been imported by Liberia’s Patrick sawyer on the 21st of July, 2014.

According to reports, Patrick Sawyer, was discovered to have been infected with the disease, after a test was conducted on him, following the fact that he had just arrived from his country, which had recorded hundred deaths from the scourge during that time.

Patrick Sawyer had earlier been tested of Malaria and HIV aids, before the third test for the Ebola virus, when the previous results came back negative.

Prior to the third test, Patrick was reported to have been questioned to determine whether he had any contact with Ebola patients. Patrick’s response, which was later discovered to have been a lie; was that that he had no such contacts.

Nonetheless, it was gathered latter that Patrick’s sister had died from an infection by the Ebola Virus in barely two weeks before his arrival to Nigeria.

Rather than yield to the demands of some Nigerians, to confront Liberia on the cruelty of one of them; The Nigerian Government decided to let sleeping Dogs lie and face the matter like adults.

Reports have it that; “Sawyer was immediately quarantined after he was discovered to have been infected with the deadly virus. In addition, a barrier nursing was implemented around Sawyer and the Lagos State Ministry of Health was immediately notified. Hospital authorities also requested the Federal Ministry of Health for additional laboratory test based on its suspicion of Ebola.”

The Federal government swung into action and quarantined all those suspected to have had contacts, both primary and secondary with Patrick Sawyer.

Even when the virus was transported to Port Harcourt; another economically viable state for Nigeria’s local and international market; the country left no stone unturned in dealing with the menace.

Shortly after the virus was detected in Port Harcourt, about 380 Nigerians were quarantined. An Ebola Isolation and was immediately put in place and other measures were taken swiftly to tackle the menace.

Nigeria became the first and currently the only state in West Africa to overcome the scurge of Ebola and even donate its citizens, as medical practitioners to aid the struggle towards erraidiacting Ebola.

While Countries across West Africa record a present figure of 8,000 deaths from the dreaded disease, Nigeria maintained less than 10 deaths throughout the period of its challenge with Ebola Patients in the country.

With 9 lives claimed by Ebola, in Nigeria, this country defeated the virus to the level of international recognition, such that on the 20th of October, four months after the diseases was imported into Nigeria, the World Health Orgainisation (WHO) declared Nigeria Ebola free, making the county, the first and only country in Africa to have defeated completely the scourge of Ebola.

Therefore we must remember that while its evident that Nigeria has its challenges, it is also a statement of fact that we have recorded some notable achievements in the past year; and there are chances of even greater achievements been reckoned this year, if we remain as united as we were against the deadly threats like that present by the Ebola virus, imported by Patrick Sawyer.

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