By Ebele Orakpo
Abeg, get down from this bus. Go and meet your people who put you in this condition,” shouted a commuter, Ade, in the Oshodi-bound bus at Ota as a young man, crippled by poliomyelitis (polio) entered the bus to solicit alms.
“Ha, don’t talk like that. Is it his fault that he is crippled? It could happen to anyone,” said Gbenga, another commuter.
Replied Ade: “I did not say it was his fault. It is the fault of his leaders, so let him go to them to take care of him and others like him. They really get on my nerves. For God’s sake, this thing is preventable. That is just my annoyance. Their so-called leaders, especially the religious leaders, will come up with stories of the vaccines being laced with drugs that could render the males impotent so as to decimate their population. What sort of nonsense is that?”
“That is the sad truth; deceiving those who have entrusted their lives in your care. I pray this debilitating disease affects their own children alone and then we’ll see what they will do,” said Ugo.
Said Mary: “The Igbos say that ‘he who has been stung by a bee is scared of the large housefly’ because they look alike (a bad experience brings about a phobia.) Once bitten, twice shy. Have we forgotten the Pfizer/Kano Government saga so soon? It was the same vaccination issue. So I think that is why they do all in their power to prevent their people from being vaccinated.”
“That’s not true. That war against vaccination did not start today. They have been trying for a very long time to discredit vaccination even before the Pfizer incident. I think it’s a case of what one fears most coming to happen in one’s life, as the Bible said. Their leaders are suspicious of everything and their followers believe so much in them that whatever they say is final.
“They just follow them foolishly; like dundees and they hate with passion a few of their leaders who tell them the truth. Just look at the way they murdered those innocent female health workers who went to help them vaccinate their children and kick polio out of their region! That was cruelty personified! They could have asked them to leave their territory. Must they always shed innocent blood?” asked Paul.
“See, left to me, we should forget about them. Since they don’t want vaccination, then let them be. No be by force,” said Ade.
“Ah, na by force oo. The disease is contagious. Polio is caused by the poliovirus; so it is a viral disease. According to what I read, the virus enters through the mouth and multiplies in the throat and gastrointestinal tract, then moves into the bloodstream. It invades the nervous system, and can cause total paralysis in a matter of hours. So, even if you leave them alone, the sufferers come down South and spread the virus in the course of living among the healthy population to beg and if you don’t give them alms, you are seen as the most heartless being on earth,” said Ade.
“Ah, no be small matter oo,” exclaimed Sule.
Responded Paul: “Of course! Why do you think the WHO is fighting tooth and nail to eradicate it in countries where it is endemic? As long as it is still found in some countries, the so-called poliovirus-free countries are not really free. Nigeria is said to be the only reservoir of the wild poliovirus.”
“The only solution is education. Educate the masses so they can think for themselves and take their destinies in their hands,” suggested Gbenga.
“Education is good, but the same leaders who send their own children to Europe and America, will tell the masses that Western education is evil. So where do we start from?” asked Ugo.