Nigeria’s President, Goodluck Jonathan, on Thursday said neither he nor any governor in the country can claim the credit for winning the war against Ebola.
Rivers and Lagos are the two Nigerian states hit by the Ebola outbreak.
The federal government said the two states are now free of the deadly virus.
According to Mr. Jonathan, the government could not have succeeded in ridding the country of Ebola virus without the cooperation of the Nigerian masses.
The President said these at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, during the launch of Elumelu Nigeria Empowerment Fund, ENEF, to support victims of terrorism in the country’s North-east zone.
He used the occasion to thank Nigerians for buying into the Ebola campaign, saying that no government could have performed magic to rid the county of the deadly virus without the peoples’ support.
Mr. Jonathan, however, commended Nigerians for following the health guidelines set out by government, some of which was a departure from the norm.
He said, “When government said we must be mindful of gatherings, of handshakes and that we should not move corpse unnecessarily,” Nigerians heeded the advice.
He noted that even churches that he thought would resist the directive by still using a single cup to serve the Holy Communion to its members suspended the practice during the Ebola war.
Continuing, he said, “Nigerians became mindful. Friends stopped embracing themselves saying until we get out of Ebola.
“So it (Ebola campaign) had the buy-in of the populace and that is why we succeeded so fast otherwise we couldn’t have.
“There is no magic government could have used to solve that problem. No President or state governor will claim any credit. The credit should go to the ordinary Nigerians for the cooperation and their buy-in,” Mr. Jonathan said.
By his comment, the President appears to be reacting to remarks by top members of the All Progressives Congress, APC, including Governors Babatunde Fasola of Lagos State and Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, who have said the Federal Government did very little to contend the deadly virus and should therefore not claim credit for winning the war.
While speaking at the formal declaration of a former Head of State, Muhamadu Buhari, for the APC’s presidential ticket at the Eagle Square, Abuja, on Wednesday, Mr. Amaechi, said Nigeria’s flaunted success in the fight against Ebola is a fallacy.
He insisted that the Rivers State Government spent a whopping N1.4billion to stop the outbreak of the disease.
He faulted claims by Mr. Jonathan’s ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, that the Federal Government successfully contained the outbreak.
He said, “I hear PDP and Mr. President claiming the glory of having fought Ebola. I asked one simple question: Rivers state government spent 1,406 billion to fight Ebola, the Federal Government brought N200m just last week. If we were waiting for that N200m, Ebola would have spread round Rivers State,” he said.
He said his colleague, Mr.Fashola, was also “fully in charge of the Ebola drive in his state”.
Further deriding the Federal Government, Mr. Amaechi said “Apart from announcing the number of patients, what did the Federal Government do for us? So, why did they politicise Ebola.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Jonathan said the Federal Government has made a donation of N250 million to the ENEF, saying that the government will continue its sustained security operations to eliminate insurgency and restore law and order in the country.
Mr. Jonathan noted that the prolonged case of insurgency in the zone has led to the displacement of the population, destruction of infrastructure and the collapse of the economy in the area.
The rehabilitation of communities affected by the crisis, the President said, would require not only government’s intervention but also that of the private sector.
“I have realized over time that government alone cannot solve human problems. There is always a difference when the government involves the private sector and the civil society in what it does,” Mr. Jonathan said about Mr. Tony Elumelu’s involvement in helping victims of terrorism in the country.
Also speaking, the founder of the Elumelu Foundation, Mr. Elumelu, said his foundation and Heirs Holdings had made a N1.5 billion donation as seed money for the ENEF.
He said the Fund will partner citizens to transform communities that have been ravaged by natural disasters and conflicts into thriving as economically sustainable communities.
Mr. Elumelu said, “It (Fund) will also create opportunities and empower people in affected communities across Nigeria to rebuild their lives and businesses, and instill a sense of economic empowerment for the long-term.”
He added that social investments and grants would be given to select communities and individuals to create enabling environment for a new generation of entrepreneurs to emerge from the affected communities.