Sunday, August 31, 2014

The rat trap

At the Africa Development Bank Annual Meeting in May, a commentator asked a high level panel comprising those who should know what is being done to contain the spread of Ebola because the much touted Africa rising and growth can be wiped out by an epidemic. This commentator was dismissed and I recall another commentator in the audience retort that Ebola cannot spread or cross borders. 2 months later, the story is different. The disease has spread from Guinea (430 deaths/ 648 cases) to Sierra Leone (422 dead/1026 cases), Liberia (694/ 1378 cases) and Nigeria (6 deaths/ 17 cases) and now Senegal.  
The outlook of the region reminds one of the rat trap fable where the animals who refused to help destroy the trap set by the farmer for rat ended up being killed as food for mourners when the farmer's wife died from injuries.
The outbreak of this virus has affected businesses and commerce- especially the foreign investment Africa desires. The effects of the disease is evident and may continue for a while. Ergo, the Continent's economic outlook is diminished- at least for 2014. In Sierra leone, farming and mining activities ( the country’s new frontier and employer)  have been adversely affected and there fears that inability to farm will affect the country’s food security. Liberia has also suffered a similar fate as Sierra-leone. It appears to be worse off as the level of stigmatization is high and some victims are left to die. 
 Though the disease is yet to reach epidemic proportions in Nigeria and its effects almost insignificant, some businesses have issued travel bans to and from Nigeria. The nation’s saving grace may be the gains airlines and business make from the region hence the continued business.Yet that Nigeria was looped in this Ebola cycle illustrates the consequences of ill-preparedness. In March 2014, Nigeria’s minister of information stated that the Country has vaccines to combat Ebola  and is ebola-ready. In July (2-3), there was a WHO meeting in Ghana  for Health Ministers on how to  combat Ebola and Nigeria’s health minister was missing. 
But for the proactiveness and selflessness of Dr Adadevoh and First Consultants Clinic, Lagos may have experienced an outbreak. Even with the sub-optimal state of Nigeria’s health facilities (I have it on good authority that that medical supplies for doctors who are usually first casulties in epidemics as this  e.g covers, gloves etc are not sufficient).
For those who downplay Dr Adadevoh’s ethics and sacrifice, the spread  of the disease in Port harcourt, the unknowns- how far has it spread, who has slipped through the radar-  shows the need for personal integrity and ethics. The late Port Harcourt according to reports was aware the patient had Ebola, did not report it and supposedly took precautions. Unfortunately for him, he his late, has endangered the life of his immediate family and a state with population of about 6 million residents. The Federal government also shares the blame in the spread of this virus as they were away that 2 people under surveillance slipped away and failed to track them.
As a region, the outbreak of this Ebola strain offers lessons which include:

  • The need to follow rules and systems. First Consultants on discovering the Ebola index case carried the virus informed the authorities. If only Dr. Enemuo had towed a similar path
  • Greed,corruption and its sister attitudes- see-no-evil; let-it-be- are a scourge that has to be addressed because it kills. 
  • There can be no growth and development without a healthy population. Though cliche health is wealth and sick population cannot be productive. The same attention that is being given Ebola should be accorded similar diseases like Malaria and Polio.

The Federal Government has touted the transformation agenda as working in the area of employment- though statistics beg to differ-. The Minister of Finance stated that 1.2 million jobs were created  in 2013 but this only visible in government realms. The reality is that  existing unemployment levels is increasing and as Bola Tinubu mentioned it is a ticking  time bomb. Gullible job seekers are being defrauded and corruption in the Federal service  is engendered thanks to norm of allocating existing vacancies to staff members who then sell their slots to jobseekers.
I understand that there is a company located in Surulere that operates illicit recruitments and despite reports to the police, no action has been taken. Stories of job seekers who  employed as sales officers,required to give advance payments for machines that are yet to be delivered and promises of roles for certain prices. According to those who have experienced this fraud, they are those this position available for NGN 25,000, that job for NGN15,000, after they pay no jobs are given. 
For the Federal government, the NIS recruitment scam and the NGN 1000 paid by applicants is mild compared to what is the norm in other government agencies. Civil servants have become HR when recruiting as they are given slots for open positions which they sell for as high as 400,000. Here, the job is guaranteed but for the highest bidder. However, the repercussions of this method of recruitment is 1) the wrong person more than likely gets the job and that will affect performance. 2) considering that the take home pay of civil servants say NSDC is insignificant, an individual that pays 400,000 for a job will definately recoup that cost from customers- citizens

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