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Sunday, October 1, 2023

Brief and simple initiatives that might have possibly tamed the Ebola crisis


The Ebola outbreak has now become synonymous with what HIV was in the late ’70s and ’80s.  Unlike the beginning of the AIDS epidemic where scientist and medical researchers didn’t have the means and couldn’t really figure out the origin of the virus and how it claimed its victims. Our perception of AIDS was in the realm of mere speculations for quite a while. Ebola on the other hand, is certainly not a stranger to Africa. It wreaked havoc in parts of Zaire and Nigeria in the ’70s. Minimal cases of the virus are still ubiquitous in isolated villages throughout the continent of Africa, especially in the raining season. 

What makes this recent outbreak notorious, is its transnational reputation and the high death rate it has caused in the vulnerable regions of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.  Unlike the ambiguities of HIV/ AIDS in its initial stages, there are some “glad-tidings” to the Ebola virus despite the insubstantial antiviral drugs available. I say this simply because of the following: 

What is known about this devastating breakout, is that it claims its victims primarily by fronting itself close enough to where the actual fluid of the contaminated individual, animal, fruit, plant, etc. must make physical contact with a new candidate to stimulate the deadly proliferation of Ebola. 

One would think that this salient understanding and comprehensive information we have about the Ebola virus ought to save many lives. This information certainly would have, if this nightmare was to showcase itself in well organised and adept societies like the European continent above us. One other important correlation that is vividly noticeable in this recent outbreak is the epidemicity of infections and the high death rate amongst the infected. Which leads many to rationally conclude that these victims are certainly lacking the appropriate attention and care they would have otherwise received outside of our impoverished continent! Like the old saying goes “prevention is better than cure”. It is no doubt the responsibility of governments to protect its people. No citizen should be blamed for politicising this crisis, if they rightfully point fingers at the respective administrations of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Someone has to be accountable for not administering and facilitating early preventive measures. These regimes have failed in this regard, by not being “strict” and dictatorial (if need be) towards their unadventurous citizens. 

What would have certainly made a difference in the early stages in Guinea, where this new outbreak is believed to have originated, was for the Guinean government to coerce and caution the dwellers of the forest to abruptly halt their consumptions of exotic animals, especially monkeys. Primates that were long suspected of being one of the sources of the Ebola virus. Perhaps the virus slowly came into contact with the natives via oral intake, as the feasters jubilantly assisted and complied with the hidden danger embedded in the deceased prey. The so-called bush meats are part of the societal norms and delicacies in these regions. 

Nonetheless, this shouldn’t serve as an excuse to continue eating exotic animals that has the potential to wipeout entire villages. Secondly, a responsible government should have been adamant in deterring the so-called traditional healers who are always ready to capitalise and “milk” the desperate for monetary gain. Victims who were supposed to be isolated from the public and supervised by professional doctors, were taking instructions from their so-called witch doctors. As a result, new cases of the virus swiftly escalated. Lastly, they should/ought to start educating locals about the reality of this deadly virus. Many today still hold the notion that Ebola is being exaggerated by the outside world or is a mere trivial and temporary saga amongst the endless list of negativity associated with our continent. Deceiving ourselves will only serve as fuel for the Ebola virus to claim more victims.

As simple as these measures might seem, these are neglected factors that might have possibly contributed in taming this aggressive Ebola breakout. Notice that our meals of choice, supernatural beliefs, and perceptions of the outside world that I briefly referenced above are all customs and habits that can easily be pacified by any responsible and abled government without devouring their national budget. 

As for the neighbouring countries that are relatively free from the current Ebola virus, it is incumbent upon all these countries to strictly minimise the movement of people going to and from known regions that are battling the virus. This wouldn’t just protect their sovereignties, but it will help in allocating all the limited medicinal resources in the already infested regions of West Africa. If the virus invades more countries because of our naivety, claims of solidarity, and reluctance to relinquish some of our customs and habits, provisions will no doubt be extremely scarce and unfortunately more bodies will be counted.

Abubacar Waggeh



RE: Nigeria: Jonathan’s terrible handling of the abducted Chibok girls could cost him the presidency – if he stands in 2015


Dear editor,


Please kindly permit me space in your medium to dispel some erroneous assertions in an opinion piece purportedly written by a Mr Amadou Camara, and published by your newspaper in its 31st July, 2014 edition.

It is unfortunate that the writer’s uncharacteristic choice of words makes mockery of the University of The Gambia as a highly endowed and respected citadel of learning, particularly its Department of Political Science and History that has produced reputable graduates over the past few years.

“President Jonathan’s handling of it didn’t help either. He showed to the whole world that he cannot manage a crisis. At best, he is a wobble jelly of vacillation, and at worst he is flabby.”

Amadou Camara’s description of an African elected president as a wobble jelly of vacillation is not only despicable but a potent proof of some colonial hangover or at best as the celebrated American civil rights activist Malcolm X puts it “House Nigger Mentality”.

The above quotation from Amadou’s article, if he indeed wrote it of sound mind, is rather unbecoming of a graduate of political science who must have done a mandatory course on International Relations and Diplomacy in order to graduate from the UTG.

 “When he sobers up from his inebriation………”  Calling the Nigerian President a drunk as indicated in the above is equally condemnable and an insult on the sensitivities of over 170 million Nigerians, particularly those of us resident in the beautiful Smiling Coast of Africa.

“He drafted a new constitution, which strictly opposed military intervention in politics, and set a two term of five years.”

Amadou Camara equally got his history bits wrong in his article, the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that he referred to as being drafted by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in the above quote was not drafted nor assented into law by the Obasanjo Administration.

That Constitution was drafted by a Constitution Drafting Committee set up by the Abdulsalami Abubakar transition regime. Abubakar’s regime signed that constitution into law and this gave birth to the elections that ushered in Obasanjo as president.

 Mr Camara as a historian is factually wrong and his article is not only misguided but rather should be read as one of the many despicable attempts at tarnishing the good name of Nigeria and Nigerians. I candidly advise that he should go study the Nigerian Constitution as there are no five-year terms in it.

Incidentally, while Amadou utter lack of decency in his diction is condemnable, he was right in stating “Security is going to be the key battleground in next year’s election in Nigeria.” But was too hasty as a Historian or is it Political Scientist in not reading the obvious. This was proven by the recently concluded elections in both Anambra and Ekiti States.

Nigerian voters are what matters and not Amadou Camara’s Boko Haram apologist opinion(s) and Nigerian voters will make their choice come 2015, because they know that that is one sure way of saying a big NO to Boko Haram.


Victor Ofuonye


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