TAKE AWAY POLITICS AND THIS COUNTRY CAN DO MUCH MUCH BETTER When you meet Nigerians at International fora, it is amazing how they hold their own and shine bright like many stars. Meet the same bunch at home and they are extinguished or go into the hibernation mode. In academia, literature , Sports and Entertainment Nigerians are doing extraordinarily well in the globe today, most of it by private or individual efforts. Even in Peace keeping, Nigerian Soldiers and Policemen are winning awards. But bring them home, they are either abusing human rights or collecting 'egunje' on the highway:"Chairman, your boys are loyal" Look at the brilliance of our athletics team at the recent commonwealth games. You were proud to be a Nigerian. Nobody cared where double-gold medalist Okagbure came from or which Geo- political zone he represented, Most Nigerians( if not all and certainly excluding the Boko haram insurgents) cheered her and rejoiced at her accomplishments. But look at what is happening in the National Foot ball Federation(NFF). Aminu Maigari removed! Maigari back! Maigari impeached! Maigari back! Somebody should be ashamed. If no body is ashamed, I take it upon my self to be ashamed on behalf of Nigeria. Twice we introduced divisive politics and twice FIFA shot us down and for us it is business as usual. I thank God for global institutions that are resistant to our penchant for impunity and tendency to corrupt. If you check our sports history as a nation,it will be apparent that anytime we did well in international competitions, be it in football or in Athletics, our football or Sports associations operated with minimum political interventions. The World Health Organization( WHO), the United Nations, the United States of Nigeria and the US Centre for disease control(CDC) have all applauded Nigeria for apparently halting the advance of the Ebola Virus Disease( EVD) in a manner that was uncharacteristic. When the demonic virus arrived our airport in Lagos, the World held its breath in their hands. Nigeria where nothing is said to work, with dilapidated health care system and a very large poor population, how could they handle this virulent and highly contagious disease?. Hitherto, this is a Nation, where what is easy in other Climes, becomes difficult and convulated. So many people including Nigerians became frightened that we were in for a terrible time of travail and affliction. They expected cataclysm. Infact, I am told of a Nigerian who was out of the country when Mr Sawyer came visiting with his load of Ebola Virus. He decided he was not coming back until the epidemic subsided. He asked his workers to stop coming to work including his domestic staff, drivers and security men. That was the level of apprehension. The apprehension escalated when some of the Nigerian infected patients began to die and many more became sick. But Nigeria has been able to contain the disease. The 12 or so infected cases were primary contacts with the index case, and though we have lost 5 but God saved the other 7. What is more, nearly all the primary and secondary contacts were reached and put on observation,many of which have been discharged as being virus free. The kind of cooperation shown between the Federal Ministry of Health and the Lagos state government was unparalleled . The Federal government mobilized resourçes and International support and provided the kind of leadership and responsiveness that is scarce in our Nation. The speed with which the !agos State built a new Isolation ward was unmatched even with Lagos standards. It was so heartwarming to see the Federal Minister of Health in the company of the Lagos State Commissioner and other official on both sides address the press everyday, sometimes twice a day. I have seen epidemics and disasters in our Nation, but I have never seen the level of proactiveness and responsiveness shown by our government officials as I have seen in this case of EVD management. What is more, the level of rapport and information sharing between Lagos government and the Federal government has been astonishing. The Federal government is said to have sent 200 million naira to Lagos State government in support of the State government's praise worthy efforts.President Jonathan's leadership on this matter was on the mark and the speed with which 1.9 billion naira was released showed that Government can work when there is the will. You will not believe that it is the same Lagos that refused Federal SURE-P branded buses to run in Lagos or that is in constant dispute with the Federal government over the Ports and Apapa roads. Some thing changed here. POLITICS was taken away! And what mattered was the life of Nigerians. There was an overriding need to halt the carnage and nothing else mattered. It was not important who took the credit or who did what. There was apparent unanimity of vision and that drove actions at both the Federal and State levels. This commonality of vision and the minimization of politics to my mind was the critical success factor. That this was achieved with the Nigerian Medical Association( NMA) still on strike into the Second month makes the accomplishment more phenomenol. We must all express our unqualified appreciation to the volunteers ( local and international) who have put their lives at risk to help contain the EVD. The professionalism of the First Foundation Hospital and the heroic efforts of the Healthcare team must be recognized and fully rewarded. The names of the medical and nursing personnel who gave their lives in the effort to deal with this invasion must be put in our National Hall of fame. I am of the firm conviction that the War against Boko Haram has been less than successful essentially, because we have failed to take politics away from the campaign. The Frontier states of Borno,Yobe and Adamawa have continued to mix politics with the war. The Arewa Consultative forum( ACF), the Northern Elders forum( NEF) have continued to play politics with the Boko Haram insurgency. Some of these groups have even suggested that Boko Haram was brought to the North by the Federal government or President Jonathan to weaken the North and make it easy for Jonathan to return to Power for a second term. What a preposterous accusation! The mixing of politics with serious National security matter also led the federal government to initially think that the abduction of the CHIBOK girls was a ruse and indeed a political ploy. And whether we like to admit it or not, this must have sub optimized initial military and rescue responses. Lagos government is run by an opposition party, but I believe that the enlightened leadership of the State realized that dealing a deadly blow on Ebola required the combined weight of the Federal and the State governments and rightly decided to take politics away and allowed maximum professional interaction to prevail. The result is what we have seen. It could always be better. But in my opinion, this is as good as it can be or has ever been! There may be arguments as to which is worse between Ebola Virus Disease and Boko Haram Insurgency. But if we can achieve the success we have attained with the EVD in such a spectacular way, then it is possible that we can achieve similar feat with the more deadly( in my opinion ) Boko Haram. The first key success factor must be to remove politics from this National security issue. It is doable and I pray we do it today! Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR


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