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Nigeria’s failed leadership crisis response: Coronavirus et al

By Emmanuel Ogebe

  • NMA should come to rescue

The world is faced with a pandemic unlike any seen in recent time. The human community is rising in response and leadership is emerging country by country, city by city to confront a threat of existential proportions to life on the planet. The corona virus affects our very breath of life itself!

In Nigeria, this crisis has been met with failed leadership at the highest levels possible.

While courageous and patriotic Nigerian medics risked their lives in southern Nigeria, as they have done before, to fight the virus, the misrulers in Abuja waited to be begged to address us on the virus.

Let me be clear that the corona virus airport response I saw in Nigeria this week was an improvement on the one I saw at the same airport last month, was better than what I saw in Accra also last month and better than what I saw in European and American airports. Therefore my point is not that Nigeria’s response at the professional level is lagging. It is the leadership level that is problematic and falls far short of our past history.

When the Ebola epidemic broke out, Dr Adadevoh was among the heroic medics who literally sacrificed her life to save millions in Lagos.

The Nigerian military medical Corp devised an impressive regional pandemic health response system for the US pentagon for the west African sub region.

The US agreed to establish and fund the emergency response system. A Nigerian General was nominated by the US to head it and submitted to the affected countries for approval. All the other countries approved the Nigerian General except the government of Major General who denied their own citizen the opportunity to head an international pandemic response initiative. Frustrated, the US cancelled the project.

When 911 occurred, Gen. Obasanjo flew to US to commiserate with President Bush and even pledged Nigerian fireman to assist with recovery efforts.

On another occasion after the explosions in Lagos, Obasanjo who was on his way to the US stopped in Lagos to condole the bereaved before proceeding a day late for his events.

Furthermore, during the AIDS pandemic, Obasanjo hosted and spearheaded the ECOWAS and AU presidents’ responses earning him global recognition and praise. This is why he was the first African president hosted by president Bush upon his coming into office.

I am personally aware of all the above episodes as I had meetings with him in the US and in Nigeria when he displayed all of this outstanding leadership.

It is therefore heartbreaking to see the abject leadership bankruptcy in Nigeria today when a photography-based government presents to the public pictures of a president viewing pictures of explosion victims as governance.

A great Nigerian leader would have marshaled our best and brightest medical researchers to avail the international community of our chloroquine based resources for the benefit of global health.

Nigeria’s Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development NIPRD under the leadership of Prof Charles Wambebe engineered NAPRISAN the wonder drug for sickle cell anaemia which is being used to treat people of black descent abroad who are most susceptible to this condition.

As we watch world leaders rise, we watch ours fail. Their ready access to presidential jets and foreign doctors make them indifferent to the plight of the masses. Yet in the ‘60s Saudi royalty used to fly to University College Hospital (where incidentally both my mother and my sister did some of their medical training) for world class treatment.

Today as medical doctors battle in surgery for a victim of terrorism I support after the government failed to assist him for seven years since he was shot in the head by Boko Haram, I am appreciative of our medical professionals.

I call on the Nigerian Medical Association and Nigerian doctors in Diaspora to bring their wealth of experience on the use of Chloroquine to bear to formulate an antidote to the global pandemic.

A situation where there are only four ventilators in a nation of 200 million is unacceptable. We must prepare for the worst. Bad leadership is worse and more lethal than corona virus.

May God save us all.

Emmanuel Ogebe

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