By Ohenenana Kofinipa
The Ebola threat in Nigeria has allegedly been over stated by politicians as a first step to stealing or misappropriating monies officially set aside to fight the scourge.
“We are particularly concerned that this somewhat alarmist and deliberate overstating of the crisis, was part of the calculations of politicians and political leaders to ensure mobilization of resources and funds internally and externally into a pool, that like the response to the 2012 Flood disaster can be disappeared into the private pockets, looted and converted into election war chests.”
“Say No Campaign-Nigeria” Co-convener Awwal Musa Rafsanjani who levied the charge at a press conference in Abuja, said the anxiety arises because of the shadowy nature of the US$11 million that the Federal Government to counter Ebola when the outbreak first occurred.
“We note for example that a fund was established and designated for the response; but without any clarity as to whether this was appropriated for, and where the funds will be drawn from. Furthermore, to buttress the point about the setting up of the fund as a conduit for corruption, controversy continues to trail the disbursement or otherwise of the said fund”, Rafsanjani indicted
The Say No Campaign-Nigeria urged the stakeholders, especially Federal and State Governments to watch against using “political sentiments” in dealing with the Ebola disease as the 2015 general elections approached.
The SNCN Co-convener commended the efforts all stakeholders have already put into the response to Ebola to contain the outbreak in Nigeria but was disturbed at the alarmist nature of the response.
“We are worried and concerned about the alarmist nature of the response, which we are convinced exaggerated the scale and scope of the risk, and which led to the spread of panic across the country, and the mushrooming of rumours about phantom cures, with often very fatal and near fatal consequences across Nigeria.
Pleading for non-politicization of the Ebola pandemic, the SNCN urged the Federal government “to collaborate with state governments” in fighting this scourge in the best interest of the Nigerian people.
“We also urge Nigerians to collaborate with the government by ensuring all suspected high risk contacts present themselves for treatment and quarantine. We urge all stakeholders to conscientiously observe the preventive measures suggested by the World Health Organization (WHO).
It also advised ECOWAS to without further delay appoint a Special Envoy on Ebola that would facilitate regional coordination and response to the pandemic.