Meningitis: Governor accused of mishandling outbreak in state with over 200 deaths, blames ‘God’

Zamfara Governor, Abdulaziz Yari [Photo: The Guardian Nigeria]
Zamfara Governor, Abdulaziz Yari [Photo: The Guardian Nigeria]

Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State has said that the ongoing outbreak of Type C Cerebrospinal Meningitis is God’s way of showing his anger against Nigerians for turning their back on him.

Mr. Yari said this on Tuesday while speaking with journalists at the presidential Villa Abuja shortly after meeting with President Muhammdu Buhari.

Zamfara is the worst hit state since the outbreak of the disease, with over 200 persons killed and several others receiving treatment at various hospitals and clinics.

The Nigeria Medical Association in Zamfara had last weekend accused the government of Mr. Yari of failing to prepare for the outbreak despite warnings, and not responding adequately to the epidemic.

Some residents, who also spoke to PREMIUM TIMES over the weekend, accused the government of “neglect”.

Mr. Yari however said the outbreak might not be unconnected to the people’s total disregard of God’s commandments.

“What we used to know as far as meningitis is concerned is the type A virus. The World Health Organisation, WHO, has carried out vaccinations against this type A virus not just in Zamfara, but many other states.

“However, because people refused to stop their nefarious activities, God now decided to send Type C virus, which has no vaccination.

“People have turned away from God and he has promised that ‘if you do anyhow, you see anyhow’ that is just the cause of this outbreak as far as I am concerned.

“There is no way fornication will be so rampant and God will not send a disease that cannot be cured,” the governor said.

Dispelling insinuations that his government failed to act accordingly, Mr. Yari said he called an emergency meeting comprising of all top state and local government officials and traditional rulers, adding that “the meeting came out with a strategy to be adopted and the money required to deal with the outbreak and a lot of work is going on”.

The Zamfara governor said relevant organisations across the globe had announced that there were only 5 million doses of the vaccine against the Type C virus. “That is not enough for Zamfara people alone, not to talk of Katsina or Kano,” he said.

He said Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Health has only 50,000 doses of the vaccine, out of which 20,000 was given to Zamfara state because of the high rate of the disease in the state.

“Our focus as a state now is to continue treating those who are infected with the disease, but as for vaccination, it has an international dimension.

“We have information that Nigeria will get the highest percentage of the 5 million doses available now. Apart from WHO, other International bodies such as the Bill Gates foundation and UNICEF are also currently focusing on how to tackle the outbreak,” he said.

The governor express the hope that the outbreak would eventually be tackled, but, hsaid “the most important thing is for our people to know that their relationship with God is not smooth. All they need to do is repent and everything will be all right.”

Asked if only the people need repentance and not leaders, Mr. Yari said “leaders are doing their best by enlightening the populace and working assiduously for the good of all.

“Your major assignment as a leader is to convey the message; you cannot go from house to House and arrest offenders for instance,” he said.



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