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Ebola: Why Nigeria must play safe

Ebola: Why Nigeria must play safe

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Some Nigerians have suggested that the planned friendly match between the Super Eagles and the Congo DR national team slated for May 28, 2018 in Nigeria be cancelled as a result of the deadly Ebola Virus outbreak in Congo which so far has claimed about 19 lives. The country’s health institutions are battling presently with the epidemic. But the head of Nigeria football body, Mr. Amaju Pinnick, is insisting that the game must hold saying cancelling it would amount to discrimination. I beg to differ. It is a precaution; even if it were discriminatory, so what? Should the lives of Nigerians be endangered to satisfy anybody or group? FIFA, the world football governing body, emphasises fair play.  Not playing the Congo friendly under the present circumstances is playing fair.

All well-meaning Nigerians should add their voices to the call on the NFF to cancel the May 28 friendly with Congo. It is a risk not worth taking. The guarantees that all safety measures will be taken do not hold water.

For starters, Nigerian health workers are on strike nationwide. So, who would facilitate the safety measures? Customs and Immigration officials? Even if health workers were working, it is still not worth the risk. It is better to err on the side of caution. It is would be unwise and foolhardy to prosecute the match.

The NFF should spare us another tragedy. Let it not be that a 90-minute game would jeopardise the lives of thousands of Nigerians.  Even the World Cup trophy is not worth this tragic cost.

Nigeria cannot afford another Ebola scourge. If not for the vigilance, dexterity and professionalism of  Nigerian health workers some few years ago, some of whom paid the supreme price, the impact would have been unimaginable. Let’s not go there again.

Truth be told, Nigeria is not going to win this World Cup. Getting to the quarter-finals thereby equalling the records of Cameroon, Senegal and Ghana would satisfy the teeming fans of the Super Eagles. So, not playing the Congolese is not a big deal. Focus should be on the other two friendlies against England and Czech Republic. The Eagles had played Poland and Serbia. It is enough. Let not one bad apple ruin the entire basket. It takes the healthy and the living to savour the excitement and spectacle that the World Cup brings.

The truth about life is that new realities should be handled with new solutions. We should play Congo some other time, not now. With the way the country is polarised currently, this government cannot handle, God forbid, an outbreak of Ebola. I would not be surprised if it is blamed on the opposition party. The United Nations on its part is too preoccupied with so many issues presently to have enough time for any Ebola outbreak. The global body is overstretched and distracted by the Syrian War; the Israeli-Palestinian crisis; the South-North Korea Peninsula tension; the Iranian nuclear palaver and the US; the trade tension between the US and China; the scourge of terrorism; the bullying nature of Donald Trump and so on.

So, let’s save ourselves from disaster by simply obeying the age-long health maxim of prevention being better than cure.

The NFF, take note.


  • Luck Ofodu, Lagos

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