From the moment Patrick Sawyer stepped off the plane into Lagos, Nigeria on the 20th of July 2014, a country of over 170 million people were in trouble. I am not going to dwell on the rights or wrongs of Mr Sawyer’s actions even though I have read and heard many people insult and curse him even after his death. I cannot blame any Nigerian who feels hard done by the way this deadly virus was “imported” into our already crisis ridden country (as if we don’t have enough on our plates already). Just yesterday, the news filtered in that the Senior Consultant Physician and Endocrinologist, Dr Ameyo Adadevoh who led the medical team that attended to Mr Sawyer and unfortunately contracted the virus in the process is dead. A very sad and unfortunate development. However, it is too late to cry over spilled milk. What matters now is ensuring the prevention of a further spread of this disease. By now most of us are aware of the warnings to stay away from bush meat, fruit bats, avoid handshakes and general body contact as much as possible as well as maintaining good personal hygiene. As a typical Nigerian, I have chosen to look on the bright side of things, after all it is often said that every situation has an advantage and disadvantage. And so this I will endeavor to beam the spotlight on the few positive aspects of the outbreak of the Ebola virus.
I doubt if anyone can claim not to have observed that the fear of the Ebola virus has caused a mutation of sorts in the average Nigerians DNA. Suddenly, people have become very conscious of their personal hygiene and environment, many have cultivated the habit of washing their hands uncountable times a day and the lavish use of hand sanitizers have become common place in an environment where some were previously unaware of its existence. This is a welcome development for someone like me who has always been somewhat weary of offering or accepting the handshake of certain individuals…we all have a good idea of what some people get up to with their hands (“digging for gold” in their nostrils, peeing by the roadside etc) without washing it afterwards. I am relieved that everyone is keeping their hands to themselves these days. It translates to less germs being passed around. I also suspect that many will make washing of hands and general cleanliness a lifelong habit even after all this is over.
The one that secretly thrills me is the fact that the fear of the deadly Ebola virus has bridled the shenanigans of people in relationships! Can you see where I am going with this? Many straying boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands (and maybe wives) have been forced to tow the “strange path” of fidelity, a feat that numerous STD campaigns and admonitions from the pulpit have failed to curb. Thanks to the almighty Ebola virus, couples have become less adulterous. I actually mentioned my conviction about the spread of the Ebola virus causing a drastic reduction in the number of people who patronize prostitutes and gigolos to a friend about 2 weeks ago, and It turned out that I was right as only last week commercial sex workers in Lagos and many parts of the country complained of low patronage as a result of the Ebola virus, with one of them being quoted lamenting that contrary to a previous average of 7 customers per day prior to the advent of Ebola, she hardly gets 4 customers these days! So for those who have been in grief due to partners who are in the habit of “playing away games” and have been fasting and praying fervently for a miracle, Ebola is the answer to your prayers!
Finally, I am sincerely hoping that the way and manner of the unfortunate introduction of this deadly virus into Nigeria has taught our apathetic government a huge lesson about the importance of putting adequate precautionary measures in place at our borders whenever there is any epidemic in Africa and even beyond, as well as equipping the general hospitals with the required medical supplies to tackle emergencies of this mold. If Nigeria was well prepared to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus into the country we wouldn’t have lost heroes like Dr Adadevoh (and 4 others) who was prematurely tagged the first Nigerian Ebola survivor only a few days ago! It is sad that this deadly scourge is present in the most populous country in Africa and 7th most populous country in the world, but as usual the average man on the streets needs to choose to see the good in the bad in a bid to retain his sanity.