The COVID-19 pandemic and other disease outbreaks in Nigeria are nothing compared to the real enemies of the country, said Professor Oyewale Tomori.
Tomori, a professor of virology, stated this on Monday at the National COVID-19 Summit organised by the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) in Abuja.’
“COVID-19 is not the enemy, Lassa fever is of minor league, yellow fever is yellow-livered, monkeypox is child’s play, cholera is a dehydrator,” he told the audience at the summit. “Our underdevelopment and backwardness rest on four pillars – they are the real enemies of our nation.
“They are (1) lack of patriotism – the destroyer of our nation; (2) self-interest – the burial ground of our national interest; (3) corruption – the executor of our underdevelopment, and (4) shamelessness – the destruction of our national pride.”
According to the virologist, these diseases have become the combined endemic demolisher of the foundation of the individual’s health security over the last 60 years.
He added that they have shaken the foundation of the nation’s health security and in turn determined the country’s irrelevance in contributing meaningfully to global health security.
“Anytime I think of Nigeria, I have Nigeria on my mind,” an emotional Tomori sobbed. “I speak with passion… (he sobs again) I’m deeply emotional. I have wept for this country on several occasions, I will try not to do such again, but it looks like I am failing because I owe this country much more than I can pay back.”
He stated that the first epidemic authorities must address was the particular one affecting the culture and true identity of the people as Nigerians.
The virologist believes the government has been lying to the people while the people, on their part, have also been responding with more lies.
He called for a nation where national interest would bury self-interest, saying the summit would become a mirage and a vapour if that was not the case.
Tomori stressed the need to build back better on the nation’s culture, warning that the outcome of the summit could become another “expensive exercise in futility”.
On the recent action by the United Kingdom and Canada, he said, “I woke up recently, just today to hear that Canada no longer recognises my genuine vaccination card, and Britain has clamped a travel ban on me.
“A few days ago, I had to know there was Omicron in Nigeria from outside. Same Canada was telling me that Nigerians who travelled out with negative COVID laboratory results were omicronised, before my own CDC finally tells me that we had the variant, detected in samples collected from people who recently travelled from South Africa.”
“I ask myself, were they people on the entourage of President (Cyril) Ramaphosa or were they other people? They did not tell us that. We painfully call the reactions of the UK and Canada racism, inequity, but I say we are paying for condoning our errors of commission and overlooking our errors of omission.
“Mr President, the generation of Nigerians we have today is much smarter than my generation. Give them one-tenth of the enabling environment opportunity which good governance gave my generation, and Nigeria will be donating vaccines to poor Europe as India is doing; Nigeria will be providing loans to China, and not the other way round,” he added.