By KABS KANU
It is Andre Maurois who says in his classic, THE ART OF LIVING, that any union without conflicts is almost as inconceivable as a nation without crises. Though some of us thank God for the fact that we have enjoyable and stable relationships, we can never be certain that problems will not come once in a while. It is how we solve these problems that makes the vital difference.
PRESIDENT ERNEST KOROMA AND GOVERNMENT NEED EVERYBODY’S SUPPORT IN THIS MOMENT OF NATIONAL CRISIS
No human institution is crisis or conflict-free . Every human institution and every nation has crises and problems. Sierra Leone cannot be immune from these problem because we are part of a world system of things with inter-linkages and interconnectivity . The Ebola virus , for instance, came to Sierra Leone because it was transmitted to us through contact with people who attended a funeral of an Ebola victim in neighbouring Guinea, where this latest outbreak of the deadly disease in West Africa started.
Every country has problems. Nigeria is presently facing the biggest challenge to her future, the Boko Haram crisis. The great United States is dogged by one economic crisis after another and has come out of two recessions, not to mention the mounting problems of gun violence with attendant massacres of innocent people en masse by lone gunmen and other social problems like teen pregnancies, rapes and youth unemployment. We therefore live in a world that will never be perfect.
Anything that affects one country will definitely affect another. If Sierra Leone, small as it is , sneezes , even a nation as great as the United States will catch cold, because , one way or the other, they benefit from our natural and human resources. There are thousands of Sierra Leoneans in the U.S. serving in very essential capacities as teachers, security officers and drivers in schools; administrators and educators in colleges and universities ; doctors, nurses , technicians in hospitals and rehabilitation centres ; managers, directors, secretaries and utility workers in companies and government agencies and combat men and technicians in the U.S. Army. Of course, we know that if America sneezes, Sierra Leone is doomed. We have Ebola today because our neighbouring West African countries first had it.
Due to the vulnerability of nations to the affer-effects of events in other countries , problems will arise now and again. The important thing is not whether we will ever have national crises. We will have them once in a while. The important thing is how we handle these crises when they occur.
This is the reason that we as a nation must learn not to be ever awed by national problems when they arise , but we should, as a united people, join the President and his Government to support them in whatever way possible to solve national crises when they appear. This is so, especially, if we have a President, like Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, who has demonstrated by deeds, not just words, that he has the interest of the nation at heart. Needless to say that President Koroma will not knowingly act in a manner detrimental to the safety and security of the nation. We know that President Koroma will not engage in acts that will endanger the nation. We do know that however sincere and hardworking a President, men , women and institutions could fail the President once on a while , but in the love of the nation and in appreciation of what President Koroma has done for the nation , let us not overreact when these things happen and adopt a hands-off policy to our national problems . Sierra Leone belongs to every one of us.
The Ebola outbreak is very unfortunate. It has led to the sad deaths of many of our precious citizens. We are all saddened by it. As a small nation, we are interconnected by marriage , family, regional, tribal and kinship ties and when death occurs anywhere in our nation, it affects all of us. We therefore want to share the griefs of the families that have lost loved ones due to the Ebola outbreak.
As we share the pains of the bereaved , we know that what is done cannot be undone .Ebola is now in our country. Recriminations and blame-games will not sole the problem. What we need to do now, as a matter of priority, is to throw our weight behind our President , Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma and the government, to help arrest the spread of this dangerous disease, Ebola.
In our own small ways, let us help the government sensitize the nation about precautions to be taken to avoid the spread of Ebola. What our people need most at this time are sensitization and protection from the virus. Let everyone reach out to their friends, families, neighbours, townsmates , workmates and the public to warn them about acts of commission and omission that will aid the spread of the disease. Teachers, professors, drivers, musicians, health care workers and newspaper publishers, editors , reporters and columnists must all join the crusade to sensitize and educate the public about the deadliness of Ebola and measures we can all take to avoid the spread of this pestilence . We must do it in the interest of the nation and to protect ourselves and our precious citizens. We should put the national interest over partisan and other interests. Since online newspapers too have wide readerships back home, there is no reason that they should not be included in any sensitization crusade . Some of the money dished out for sensitization should have been given to online newspapers too to join the sensitization effort.
Apart from sensitizing our people about the usual precautions of not eating bush meat, not shaking hands,or washing our hands with soap after shaking hands, not touching the victim of the disease , not burying corpses , etc, our people need to be also told to cooperate with government to help it reach their localities to provide health care . It is very unfortunate that due to misconceptions, people living in Ebola-hit territories are acting in hostile manners to health care providers . As a united people, let us reach out to them in whatever way possible to reeducate them that health care workers and government officials are coming in to save them, not to hurt them.
The Ministry of Health should rise up to the challenge. The Ministry should take note of ongoing arguments online that enough protective gears were not provided health care workers when the outbreak happened and that when news of the outbreak in Guinea and Liberia first hit the airwaves , Sierra Leone’s borders with these countries should have been closed. The Minister of Health and Sanitation, Hon. Miatta Kargbo and government spokesmen are insisting that protective gears were not only provided health care personnel , but effective measures were taken to forestall any outbreak. We do not want this back-and -forth finger-pointings and defences to cloud the seriousness of the crisis we have at hand. We know the Ministry has by now looked at all the options that were first available and the varying degrees it applied these options to stop an outbreak in Sierra Leone, and we know too that the Ministry has taken watertight measures to raise its game against the present challenge , with the help of international organizations . What the Ministry should do now is press home its efforts.
The All People’s Congress ( APC ) Whatsapp Group has led the way in the diaspora by forming a TASK FORCE designed to help provide whatever advice , tips and other support necessary to help our country overcome this despicable disease. The group had a very useful marathon teleconfrerence and deliberations , input and relevant tips about how to solve this problem are about to be forwarded to the Ministry of Health and Sanitation. While thanking the Group for their efforts , we call on other Sierra Leoneans to emulate them by setting up similar groups to help in their own VARIOUS ways to have our nation defeat Ebola. .
This Ebola outbreak is a serious problem that we must all tackle together as a nation.