Jonathan expresses concern about polio in Nigeria, pledges total eradication

President Goodluck Jonathan

The president spoke in Yaounde, the Cameroonian capital.

President Goodluck Jonathan on Sunday in Cameroon expressed concern about Nigeria’s polio cases, pledging to totally eradicate the ailment.

The president stated this on Sunday during an interactive session with the Nigerian community in Yaounde, Cameroon. Mr. Jonathan visited the neighbouring country for a visit of the summit of Heads of States and Governments of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and the Gulf of Guinea Commission (GGC), which has a focus, the maritime safety and security in the Gulf of Guinea.

Mr. Jonathan said he was particularly uncomfortable that Nigeria was among the four countries in the world where polio still exists.

“I’m uncomfortable with the figure, why should Nigeria be among the four countries in the world with polio?

“We are committed to eradicating polio and we will eradicate it,” he said.

About 25 cases of wild polio virus have been discovered in Northern Nigeria in 2013. Nigeria has, however, been commended internationally for its effort to eradicate polio. The World Health Organisation, WHO, and the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, have said Nigeria recorded a 50 per cent decline in the number of polio cases in the second quarter of 2013.

Ignore negative reports

The President also urged Nigerians in Diaspora to ignore negative reports which tend to exaggerate the problems in Nigeria. He urged them to look at the economic parameters in the country, including the GDP growth and foreign direct investments, all which indicate that “the economy is strong.” He added that investors do not take money to countries where nothing is happening.

He said that out of every $10 that comes to Africa, $4 comes into Nigeria.

On insecurity in Nigeria, Mr. Jonathan admitted that it was challenging but praised the Nigerian security operatives for living up to expectations. Speaking on the state of emergency declared in the Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, he said the successes so far recorded by the Joint Task Force means the emergency rule may not last up to six months recognised by the constitution.

Defends Bakassi decision

Mr. Jonathan, again, defended his administration’s decision not to appeal the ruling on Bakassi Peninsula by the International Court of Justice, which awarded the oil-rich territory to Cameroon in a 2002.

Bakassi had been legally ceded to Cameroon in 2002 and Nigerians living there had been given August 2012 to either nationalise as Cameroonians or leave the territory which had been heavily guarded by Cameroonian soldiers since taking control of the territory on August 14, 2008.

“You all know what happened in Bakassi, there is no need to go back on why we couldn’t appeal. We had no new evidence within the period of time that was given that will make a difference in the judgement.

“Our people should live a good and decent life in Cameroon. The forces of animosity are gradually dying down and the relationship is improving,” he said in response to questions by some Nigerians.

The President also said that his administration was totally committed to the welfare of the Nigerians in Cameroon, adding that their concerns of high cost of residence permit, high cost of tuition fees for students, among others would be tabled before his host, President Paul Biya

He particularly commended the good reports on Nigerians in the French-speaking country, and assured that concerns raised on security, power, and infrastructural deficits back home in Nigeria are all being addressed, noting that in two years, his administration has made significant impacts in key sectors.

Ambassador praises Nigerians

The Nigeria High Commissioner to Cameroon, Hadiza Mustapha, in her opening remarks said the Nigerian community “is the best community any ambassador could ask for. They are hardworking, patriotic, law-abiding and have good working relations with the Mission”.

She said the good working relationship existing between Nigeria and Cameroon has brought about reduction in harassment of Nigerians living in the host country.

A representative from the Bakassi Peninsular, Etim Effiong, commended President Jonathan for not abandoning those of them that choose to remain in the Cameroon as Nigerians.

He said they couldn’t bear to abandon the land that belonged to their fore-fathers for years and expressed happiness that the Nigerian government was working with the Cameroonian government to make them safe and at home in their community.

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