It was no doubt joyous to hear the proclamations from the World Health Organization (WHO), citing the “spectacular success story” of Nigeria freeing itself from Ebola after 42 days without new cases.
In all, 8 people have died out of the 20 confirmed accounts in Lagos and Port Harcourt alone, while nearly 900 people were routinely monitored for signs of the disease.
However and despite our collective euphoria at this juncture, we must urge caution and continued vigilance in our travels and in the daily lives of our citizenries.
This epidemic is real, the fear warranted and our country, a major hub for transportation and trade in West Africa.
As we view symptoms bud themselves abroad, we must commend our colleagues in the international community in the ECOWAS, those who have stood as a collective shield in the frontline of a battle against the deadly virus. Conversely, we reflect upon the tragic American response to a case of Ebola in Texas and understand that quelling and containing the unprecedented outbreak is no easy task, nor a battle that has been won.
As thus far, more than 4,500 people have died and nearly 10,000 have been infected with the haemorrhagic fever, indeed most of them in West Africa, precautionary measures must continue to be deployed and Nigeria must continue to lead by example in demonstrating a serious commitment to ensure that the virus does not penetrate its borders again.
I lastly urge our colleagues across the continent to employ similar attentiveness. As international columnist Brooks Marmon rightfully noted in National Interest Magazine, for much of the world, Africa is seen “…as a monolithic block, and Ebola perceptions will tarnish the whole continent, not only the countries where people are suffering from the virus”.
This is a watershed moment for Nigeria and an opportunity to tackle this debilitating disease head-on and work together so as to ensure the winds of prosperity at Africa’s back are not impacted or hindered by self-assured disregard.