ZAMFARA GOVERNOR, MENINGITIS AND PRIMITIVE THOUGHTS -By Rahaman Onike

The recent asseveration by Zamfara State Governor, Abdul’aziz Yari that the outbreak of the calamitous Type C, Cerebro Spinal Meningitis, in the state was a manifestation of wrath of God has exposed the defectiveness of his thoughts on policy issues. Through his assertion, it could be deducted that Governor Yari has a wrong orientation of the mysterious affliction ravaging some states of federation.
It is true that human iniquities could result into disease conditions and grievousness. Yet, the scientific nature of meningitis shouldn’t be mistaken for wage of our collective sins.
Obviously, the relevance of Governor Yari’s superstitious belief regarding the factors which might have responsible for the disease outbreaks were partly rooted in sociology but such a belief ought not to have been over-stretched.
Despite the public outcry, nothing substantially has been done by the federal government to arrest the situation. Nothing so far has suggested that the government has the wherewithal to tackle the challenge. Worse still, the scarcity of vaccines across the global cross – cultural boundaries has nightmarish effects on people’s collective psyche.
It is unfortunate that Senate which supposed to provide succor through interventions and by their oversight functions is not just standing aloof but it seems to be helpless. Instead of the Senate to expeditiously pass resolutions that would compel an urgent action against further spread of the scourge, members were busy fighting themselves or waging war against the presidency.
As at the last count, the death toll resulting from the disease outbreak was 336, out of 2,997 reported cases across 16 States currently affected.
Comparatively, Zamfara State is the worst hit with over 200 deaths and several others receiving treatments at various hospitals and clinics.
In a way, the ugly trend is rather being attributed to un-hygienic practices and other medical challenges. If ordinary citizens are attributing the affliction to persistent violation of God’s commandments by the citizenry, such primitive postulation shouldn’t be credited to a governor.
By rationalizing the sudden outbreak of meningitis using spiritual baseline cannot be sustained. Somehow the spiritual dimension given to the causes of outbreak of meningitis devoid of logic. With the spiritual thesis advanced and propagated by Zamfara State Governor, it becomes clearer that some of our leaders don’t consult properly and weigh carefully their policy statements before going public.
Apart from the row which Governor Yari’s statements has generated on both social and new media, his personality and reputation also been subjected to a sort of derision before the general public.
As much as one may want to give him the benefit of doubts despite the inherent ambiguities in his utterances, the moral import of his idea shouldn’t be allowed to take precedence over medical realities.
From all indications, solution to the scourge rests on effective policy initiatives and implementation strategies rather than religious solace and bulk passing. What is needed to be done must be done well so that the nation can overcome the challenge.
Without mincing words, the 1.1 billion dollars estimated sum for vaccination of 22 million persons in five states currently afflicted by the burst needed urgent processing and appropriation as an exigent demand.
Above all, the relevant agencies need to be more intensive and pro-active in creating awareness of causes, signs, symptoms and management of meningitis. With the suggested measures, our societies will be free of further escalation of the disease outbreaks. In the same token, the infirmity shouldn’t be allowed to threaten the nation’s population health unabated. It is high time the government at various levels acted swiftly for our collective good.
Rahaman Onike writes from Oyo, he is a public administrator, author and policy analyst.

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