Osinbajo, former US envoy meet on polio eradication

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and former US Ambassador to the UN, Mr Andrew Young, on Friday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja met to discuss ways to sustain the fight against the Wide Polio Virus(WPV) in Nigeria.

Young, who came under the aegis of Emeka Offor Foundation, was accompanied by Offor, a Nigerian businessman, whose foundation also worked to eradicate the WPV in Nigeria.

Speaking to State House correspondents after the meeting, Young said that the struggle to eradicate polio had been going on for 70 years and that it would soon be achieved.

“I am here because Nigeria has a chance to strike the final blow in ending wide polio by vaccinating every child as soon as they can.

“Everything cannot be done by government; civil society has a strong role to play in education, in health and every aspect of life.

“To make change in life, you have to have almost 60 per cent but a small group of dedicated individuals under the leadership of civil society like Offor can make a big difference.”

He said that Offor had taken the lead in making the final steps in stemming the spread of the virus in Nigeria.

Young said that Osinbajo informed them at the meeting of Nigeria’s free education for every Nigerian up to the 9th grade, which he described as a revolution.

“That is a revolution; that is a phenomenal achievement; education and health determine the rate of progress; the number of jobs; the manner of wealth.

“I am just pleased that Nigeria with all the faults, everyone else talks about Nigeria as a strong country that was holding together in spite of all of its differences.”

On his part, Offor expressed delight that Nigeria had not had any case of WPV in three years, adding that the effort must be sustained until the virus was eradicated in the world.

He said that they looked forward to WHO certification which would come in March 2020.

Offor said that after the certification, the advocacy had to continue as massive immunisation would continue.

“We have to make sure that our borders that are porous are manned because the wide polio virus travels from one country to the other with human beings travelling.

“That is what we need to do; and the momentum of advocacy should be maintained at the level it is now so that you create awareness.

“So that mothers should be able to bring out their children to be immunised without having the negative ideas that were given by detractors.

“They should know that every child that is immunised will be polio free.

“When a child is normal, the child will be mentally fit, the child will help in building a better Nigeria.

“As a Rotarian, what we are doing, our goal is that polio will be wiped out, not just in Nigeria or Africa, but on the earth because until that is done, we are not safe,” he said. 

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