Wowza!!!! N300,000,000.00 Eblola Rip-Off

Even though there have been consistent conflicting reports by government authorities about the status, spread and number of victims of the dreaded Ebola virus disease since the announcement of its outbreak in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital last week Wednesday, August 27, 2014, one good thing is the consciousness of personal hygiene the fear of the virus has engendered in the people.

Apart from reasonable efforts to keep their immediate surroundings clean and regularly disinfected, there is now regular washing of hands and use of sanitizers to keep the 'no cure virus' under check among the populace. But of greater concern is, whether the government and the relevant authorities are really serious about containing the spread of the Ebola virus.

According to reports from the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), there's hardly anything on ground to show that the government is ready to face the challenge posed by the disease against the bogus and repeated claim by Gov Chibuike Amaechi that the State is ready and has put adequate measures in place to fight the scourge.

All that has been witnessed on daily basis in the past one week are regular press briefings by Dr Sampson Parker, the Commissioner in charge of health in the State during which he has dished out over three different numbers as persons already traced and captured for having contact with the late Dr. Iyke Sam Enenmuo, who treated the alleged Nigerian diplomat, and friend of Patrick, Sawyer, the American Liberian who sneaked into Port Harcourt from Lagos and through whom the virus entered the State.

Dr Parker gave the initial number of those traced and captured as 50 persons and later 160 to 200, which later dropped to 60 and again 50.

According to him, by Monday, three of them had been quarantined for testing positive, and by the following day (Tuesday) the number reduced to one as two had been discharged from the health control centre located in Emohua. 

While the people were still grappling with this confusing information, report came in that the alleged Ebola importer to Port Harcourt, Mr. Odukoya said he was never in Port Harcourt let alone receiving treatment in a Port Harcourt Hotel and, or clinic.

That notwithstanding, what is of utmost importance is making conscientious effort to contain further spread of the virus as its presence in Nigeria is no longer a matter of conjectures by settling down for business and not leaving the 'call to duty' to mediocres, opportunists and political jobbers who may not understand the grave implication of gambling with the lives of millions of Rivers people and other Nigerians resident in the State.

There is no doubt that some misguided elements will see this glaring threat to human lives as yet another opportunity to enrich themselves not realizing that you must be alive to enjoy such loot. This warning becomes pertinent and timely because the claim by the State government through the Governor himself who is not directly involved in the management and disbursement of funds for the procurement of the necessary facilities and checks that the sum of three hundred million naira (N300m) has so far been spent on the control of the Ebola virus disease is suspect.

One begins to wonder on what such huge sum was spent aside the intervention funds only in one week when Lagos State government that has been battling with same scourge in the past one month has not spent such amount. It should also be noted that organizing workshops for the health controllers is important but is never the crux of the matter especially when organizers seen to outnumber the trainees.This must be guided against as the funds meant for the facilities could be channeled ungainly salaries and allowances approved/ unapproved.

This may have prompted the State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to send a note of warning to the State government and all relevant authorities charged with the control of the dreaded Ebola Virus Disease in the State to be cautious and see this call to duty as an assignment that requires total commitment devoid of personal interest and extraneous influences.

While praying for a very successful fight and God's guidance in the early control of the killer disease, the PDP Chairman, Bro Felix Obuah,in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media, Jerry Needam, warned against the attempt to use the Ebola disease to loot the State treasury by those in charge.The Party said the charge becomes necessary in view of the alarming sum of N300m claimed by Gov Chibuike Amaechi to have already spent on containing the spread of the disease in the State only in one week.

This to us, the party notes, appears gravely bloated against the backdrop of the information from the Rivers State chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) that the State presently lacks the requisite  facilities to put the Ebola scourge under check which is a direct contrast to the claim of Gov Amaechi. “This is a very serious issue because it has to do with life. The earlier the better and does not call for politicking. The killer disease is not a member of any political party and spares, none based on political affiliation. So all hands must be on deck to ensure that our generation is saved from total annihilation”, the PDP remarked.

The Party however enjoins all Rivers people, residents in the State and indeed, all Nigerians to pray with faith, believing that God does not abandon His people not even in the fight against Ebola.

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