Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN (right), in company of the parade commander, Akpanke B. Akpanke (SP) inspecting the parade before taking the salute during the National Day Parade to commemorate the 54th Independence Anniversary of the country at the Police College , Ikeja, Lagos, on Wednesday, October 1, 2014.

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN (right), in company of the parade commander, Akpanke B. Akpanke (SP) inspecting the parade before taking the salute during the National Day Parade to commemorate the 54th Independence Anniversary of the country at the Police College , Ikeja, Lagos, on Wednesday, October 1, 2014.

Fashola Carpets Jonathan For Taking Glory Over Ebola Containment

Governor Fashola of Lagos State have paid glowing tribute to those who contributed to the successful containment of Ebola Virus Disease in Nigeria, calling on all citizens to rededicate themselves to the pride and service of the nation as exemplified by her founding fathers as the country celebrates its 54th Independence anniversary.

Fashola, who spoke at the Police College Grounds, Ikeja, venue of this year’s celebrations, paid glowing tribute to the team who contributed to the successful containment of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the State describing them as the true heroes of Ebola containment.

He carpeteed President Goodluck Jonathan who has been gallivanting all over the world and at every opportunity to boast that he has contained the Ebola Virus Disease in Nigeria. Mr. Fashola said, “I have heard some stories emanating from campaign podiums with claims of conquering Ebola. The question we must ask is whether those who make these claims saw Ebola?”

The Governor said there was need to rekindle the flame that ignited the determination of the founding fathers to fight for and obtain independence and the pride they had in serving the country adding that there was no better time than now to reawaken the waning glory of the nation.

He recalled that the central theme of the famous speech of the first Prime Minister, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, on the First Independence Anniversary in 1960 was “dedicating life and service to our country” adding that it is the only way to return the nation to her glorious past.

Also recalling, with nostalgia, the pride and reverence with which the Independence Day Celebration was observed in the past, Fashola said the day was regarded as the most significant day in the life of the nation, adding that it was accorded a pride of place that was difficult to surpass.

He recalled further, “As a school boy, I remember struggling hard to get selected to march for my school in the National Day Parade, the endless rehearsals, and the keen anticipation of waiting to see if I would be picked. There was no prize given and none was expected. It was enough that your school had participated”.

“Bursting with pride, we would milk our success for weeks and months afterwards, wearing our school uniform with pride, basking in the recognition as we went to and from school in public transportation and displaying a sense of superiority over other less fortunate schools”, he said adding, “October 1st also became a day for inspiring speeches and sober reflection on our growth as a nation”.

Fashola, who expressed regrets that the excitement of those days has waned with October 1 now appearing to have become a hollow ritual, declared, “All over the world, Independence Day anniversaries are celebrated with great fanfare, splendour, respect for the nation and a deep sense of patriotism. We should not be any different”.

“In some countries, festivities leading up to Independence Day start up to three weeks earlier. Some hold Independence Day beauty pageants; some re-enact their independence, others play the National Anthem on the dot of midnight on all radio and TV stations. All put country before self, at least for that day”, the Governor said.

Noting that youths and children constitute a sizeable proportion of the nation’s population, the Governor said there was need for them to imbibe the spirit of service to the country adding that there is no better time to rekindle the flame of Nigeria’s promise than now.

Governor Fashola used the occasion to espouse the philosophical underpinnings of the State’s value reorientation programme, “the Spirit of Lagos”, saying as young Nigerians, they should imbibe the Spirit of Lagos which, he said, embodies all the values that should make them good citizens of Nigeria adding, “The Spirit of Lagos is the embodiment of all things good about Lagos and Nigeria, and the lifeline that connects our glorious past with the bright future we all desire”.

The Governor further said the Spirit of Lagos means having the understanding that every Nigerian has a part to play in the wellbeing of the country, by doing the right thing in any and every little way. He listed some of the ways to include disposing of wastes properly, observing basic rules of sanitation and hygiene, obeying traffic rules and using pedestrian bridges.

He said one would also be contributing to the wellbeing of the country “by offering a helping hand to the elderly, the young and the less able, by being honest and acting with integrity, by being safety and security conscious, by protecting public property because it is your own property, by being courageous and law-abiding and setting good examples and by being considerate and looking out for one another”.

“That is the spirit of Lagos. These were some of the values that coursed through our veins in Lagos and by extension, Nigeria, in what we commonly refer to as “the good old days”, he said adding, “Nigeria of those “good old days” has not changed. It is us who have changed, and it is us who must again change”.

Declaring that some of the changes that the nation needs have already started happening, Fashola acknowledged the heroic efforts of the frontline health workers who volunteered themselves in the management of the Ebola Virus Disease adding that because of their service and heroism, his administration was able to declare the State Ebola-free on the 18th of September, 2014.

The Governor, who paid glowing tribute to those he described as the true heroes of Ebola containment, added, “I have heard some stories emanating from campaign podiums with claims of conquering Ebola. The question we must ask is whether those who make these claims saw Ebola?”

“It is women like Stella Ameyo Adadevoh to whom such a claim rightly belongs. It is young Nigerians like Dr. Morris Ibeawuchi, who first made contact with the index case patient and continued to treat him who saw and conquered Ebola. It is first responders from the Lagos State Ministry of Health like Dr. Jide Idris, Dr. Yewande Adesina, Dr. Wale Ahmed, Dr. Kayode Oguntimehin who saw Ebola”, the Governor said.

Other heroes of the EVD containment, the Governor said, include First Consultant Hospital and the staff, Dr. Abdul-Salam Nasidi of the National Disease Control Centre in Abuja, Dr. David Brett-Mayor of the World Health Organization, Professor S. A. Omilabu, the dedicated virologist at LUTH and Peter Adewuyi who led the contact tracing team for the first two weeks.

They also include Mrs. Funmi Lagbokun, Mrs. Modupe Aiyedun Davies, Mrs. Basirat Adeoye, Ms F. O. Bamgboye, Mrs. K. O. Oshisanya, Mrs. Kazeem Abioye, Mrs. Abiola Lasaki and Mrs. K. Adeshina “the dedicated team of nurses, nursing aid, care giver, health assistant and hygienist who commenced work voluntarily in the Ebola containment ward without any demand other than the sense of duty” as well as Yemi Gbadegesin and Abdulsalam “who coordinated the de-contamination, removal and burial of the index case and other cases and because of whom First Consultant can re-open for business”.

He declared, “Dear Lagosians, these were the people who saw and defeated Ebola. Let no person tell you otherwise. These men and women, who showed courage, who risked their lives, are our true champions and heroes. They showed the spirit of service, the spirit of Lagos and the spirit of our “good old days”. Nobody should take this credit away from them”.

The Governor said the listed medical officers were already working with others and planning to volunteer to go and give help in Sierra Leone and Liberia adding, “Their reward for hard work will be more work and they tell me that they are ready”.

He also commended the survivors of the EVD – Dr. Adaora Igonoh, Dr. Akinniyi Fadipe, Mr. Dennis Echelonu and Mrs. Kelechi Enemuo, among others – who volunteered to come out in spite of possible stigmatization adding, “At great personal discomfort, they stepped out and forward, to help you and I find our feet; to re-assure us that all was well. They saw and conquered Ebola”.

Fashola also appealed to members of the public to assist businesses like First Consultant Hospital and hotels that suffered cancellations as a result of the Ebola experience and yet have not laid off their staff, by rallying round them “in the spirit of Lagos to help them get back on their feet”.

“Words will never be enough but bringing back those values they represent, will. This is the spirit that used to course through our veins; the spirit that made us the great nation that we are. And we can bring that spirit back by changing our thinking”, the Governor said.

Urging that “the spirit of Lagos” should be spread across the length and breadth of the nation, Fashola declared, “By making a conscious determination to change the way we act, we can serve our country by doing something good and positive in our homes, in our schools and in our communities. It doesn’t matter how little it is. Together it makes a whole. We can serve our country by pledging in our hearts to restore, share and protect our communities, our States and our nation”.

“In the weeks and months ahead, we will begin to celebrate ordinary Nigerians doing extra-ordinary things. And on a dedicated day in the near future we will come together to celebrate and honour our heroes, and hold them up as shining examples. Heroes recognized and chosen by you and I for the things they are doing for the benefit of others and the society at large without expectation of reward”, he said.

He said Government would soon distribute wrist bands, worn at the parade by the school pupils, all over the State and beyond urging all to wear them “as a constant reminder to change your thinking”. The Governor also enjoined the people to wear the bands with pride adding, “But more importantly, let them remind you to act with integrity”.

Noting that the temptation is great to focus on the country’s failures and lament the national deficiencies and inevitable to compare her achievements with her potentials and conclude that she could have done much better, the Governor urged the Nigerian youth to choose to take on a more positive attitude.

“Let us see the cup as half full rather than half empty. Let us thank God even for the mistakes of the past from which we can learn invaluable lessons to face the future with hope. Let us count our blessings, address our weaknesses and harness our strengths, so that we can courageously turn yesterday’s shortcomings into tomorrow’s successes. Let us change our thinking”, he said.

Also present at the occasion were some members of the State Executive Council including the Deputy Governor, Hon. (Mrs.) Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, Secretary to the State Government Dr. (Mrs.) Oluranti Adebule, Head of Service, Mrs. Oluseyi Williams, among others, first civilian Governor of the State, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, Asoju Oba of Lagos, Chief Molade Okoya Thomas, traditional rulers and religious leaders, top police service commanders, law enforcement agencies and other uniformed organizations, schools children and non-governmental agencies as well as market women and men among others.

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