Just three short days ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) certified Nigeria free of Ebola, that viral disease without a ready cure. All Nigerians should celebrate. For 42 straight days, the double equivalent of the gestation period brought to naught the spread of this killer virus. We should celebrate.
Banishing the ‘fiend’ from our shores, gives us the right to revel. For years we were reviled in the comity of nations for our gross inefficiency. Managing prosperity has never been our calling. Managing disaster was expected to be even more calamitous. The miracle of taming Ebola is, however, earning us global respects.
We should walk tall buoyed by the knowledge that at crunch time, the legendary resilience of Nigerians would save the day. This is exactly what happened in taming Ebola.
Haughty America is curious to know our methods. It is anxious to find out how we managed to contain such a deadly foe within such a short period of time with practically bare hands. Currently, travel hysteria over Ebola has hit the US since the disease hit that country. Since it berthed there, there has been frenzy.
In systemic terms and management, the difference between Nigeria and the US is like the difference between day and night. Yet the US with superior healthcare and efficiency is looking in the direction of Nigeria for salvation in matters of this disease.
There is something mystical about our nation. This explains why it has not collapsed under the weight of sustained assault by her leaders. Time and again, pundits have given her no chance in triumphing over her travails. The morbid among them even gave her a definite time line of collapse. The reviewed date now is 2015.
Such terminal dates for Armageddon have been invalidated with the passage of time. Even next year, the new terminus of a united Nigeria, some ‘review’, for the umpteenth time, has occurred.
The goal post has now been shifted to 2030AD. Most times, cynics have dismissed Nigeria as a contraption waiting to untangle. Were it for man alone, Nigeria would have been history. Time and again, leaders and followers alike have failed the nation. Leaders who drive wedges into contrived cleavages to bamboozle the people and followers who are abysmally benighted in the direction of base emotions.
We are a country of ‘impossibilities’. A nation of extreme paradoxes. Outsiders marvel at us. They wonder how a state so blessed, misfires so often. World leaders gawk at the ‘Nigerian wonder’. The ‘wonder’ is how an elephant walks through the eye of a needle with the ease of a ballerina whilst 16 is greater than 19. We are a ‘‘nation that exports what it lacks and import what it has’’.This was Bill Clinton, ex-US president verdict when he came visiting in 2000AD.
Our leaders fumble all the time to, mostly, predictable end. We have been a country governed often by luck. Often it has manifested in the miraculous snatching of victory in the jaws of defeat.
Our triumph in football typifies this ‘luck’. Severally in the past, we have surprised bookmakers triumphing against all odds. ‘The comeback kid’ may as well be our sobriquet. In 1989, for instance, the ‘can do’ spirit of our footballers showed itself in beating the defunct USSR in the U21 world cup fiesta. Trailing 4 goals behind and 15 minutes to full time, the Nigerian lads altered world soccer history by equalizing and eventually triumphing.
It was the same miracle in the 1996 Olympics held in Atlanta USA. All the world soccer giants bowed before the dribbling feet of Nigerians. The victory over arrogant Brazil was particularly gratifying. The samba boys led all the way with as much as two goals margin till the dying minutes. Some strategic substitution by an efficient Nigerian bench however, snatched victory again, from the jaws of defeat to cruise into the finals with Argentina.
Before the epic clash a thoroughly frightened Argentine side had gone berserk calling the Nigerian side unprintable names.
The triumph over Ebola was not by luck. It was the net result of a symphony of efforts. With the bulk of doctors on nationwide strike, the initial battle to contain the disease was nothing but the stuff of sheer heroics. Lacking in the right tools to grapple with such an assiduous enemy, the Nigerian spirit threw itself into the battle. It was a metaphor of the resilience of the Nigerian people. Leading the pack was a bunch of selfless medical workers. Like the soldiers currently battling insurgents sacrificing lives and limbs, our health care workers proved that when the chips are down, what mattered was saving lives not representatives of party or creed.
Supporting this cast of professionals were the media, the clergy and several others. For a change governments at all levels showed leadership. Temporarily political differences were put aside to save the nation.
When Ebola sneaked into our country, it almost caught us napping.
Before ‘mad man’ Patrick Sawyer put to test the Nigerian resolve on July 20,the authorities have openly boasted of our readiness for the disease. The immediate past minister of information, Labaran Maku, present day “Chemical Ali”, I dare say had claimed the country’s readiness to deal with the continent’s biggest health challenge. He openly boasted of having vaccines in stock ,when in actual fact, no such panacea has been discovered
Flushing Ebola out of our shores is credit to the Nigerian spirit.
Nigerians who collectively crushed ‘Ebola’ ,the viral disease have a date with history flushing out the deadlier political Ebola. And this insidious malady is personified by incompetent and thieving political elites. This is the other Ebola waiting to be flushed.