Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State has declared that the renewed outbreak of meningitis in 16 states of the federation is a divine punishment for Nigerians’ promiscuous lifestyles and disobedience to God.
The governor emphatically said that fornication is the major reason God is punishing Nigeria with meningitis.
According to him, God sent Type C of the meningitis, whose vaccines are yet to be found, as the punishment for Nigerians’ nefarious activities.
In an interview he granted in Hausa language after holding a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Tuesday, Governor Yari said that fornication is among the sins that may have made God to inflict meningitis on the country.
He spoke as the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said that a total of 2,997 cases have been reported with 146 of the cases being laboratory confirmed.
The agency said that as at April 3, 2017, 336 people have died from the disease.
Zamfara is one of the worst affected states in the country. The others are Katsina, Kebbi, Niger and Sokoto.
Zamfara, Katsina and Sokoto States are said to account for about 93% of the cases reported.
The Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Zamfara State chapter had accused Yari’s government of indifference to the outbreak despite early warnings.
Yari, however, said the outbreak might not be unconnected with the people’s total disregard to God’s commandments.
Yari said: “What we used to know as far as meningitis is concerned is the Type A virus. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has carried out vaccinations against this Type A virus, not just in Zamfara, but many other states.
“However, because people refused to stop their nefarious activities, God now decided to send Type C virus, which has no vaccination.”
“People have turned away from God and he has promised that ‘if you do anyhow, you see anyhow’ that is just the cause of this outbreak as far as I am concerned. There is no way fornication will be so rampant and God will not send a disease that cannot be cured”.
Dispelling insinuations that his government failed to act accordingly, Yari said he called an emergency meeting comprising of all top state and local government officials and traditional rulers, adding that “the meeting came out with a strategy to be adopted and the money required to deal with the outbreak and a lot of work is going on”.
He noted that relevant organizations across the globe had announced that there are only five million doses of the vaccine against the Type C virus.
“That is not enough for Zamfara people alone, not to talk of Katsina or Kano,” he said.
He said Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Health has only 50,000 doses of the vaccine, out of which 20,000 was given to Zamfara State because of the high rate of the disease in the state.
“The most important thing is for our people to know that their relationship with God is not smooth. All they need to do is repent and everything will be all right,” Yari added.
Asked if only the people need repentance and not leaders, Yari said:
“Leaders are doing their best by enlightening the populace and working assiduously for the good of all.”
“Your major assignment as a leader is to convey the message; you cannot go from house to house and arrest offenders for instance,” added Yari.
The most affected group of people, the NCDC, said are children between the ages 5 and 14.
According to the NCDC, a total of 2,997 suspected cases with 336 deaths (CFR=11.2%) have been reported from 92 local government areas in the country.
A total of 146 positive cases confirmed by Pastorex and Culture; Neisseria meningitides serotype C being the most common serotype, accounting for 83% of cases.
The agency, however, disclosed that 500,000 doses of the AC-PS vaccine granted by the International Coordinating Group on Vaccine Provision (ICG) for reactive vaccination in Zamfara has arrived Nigeria.
Meanwhile, the Senate has urged the Federal Ministry of Health and NCDC to make meningitis vaccinations free in public healthcare facilities across the country.
The Upper House resolution followed a motion titled: “Outbreak of Meningitis and the Urgent Need to Curb its Spread and Stop Further Deaths” sponsored by Senator Gbenga Ashafa and 16 other Senators.
It noted that the outbreak of CSM in five states stresses the need for an increase in the budget of the Federal Ministry of Health, in order to ensure that the Ministry and its parastatals are able to better fund healthcare-related activities in the country.
The Senators also resolved that meningitis vaccinations should be made free across the country, citing the need for agencies of the federal government to continue to collaborate with the WHO and UNICEF to make the scarce inoculations against meningitis readily available.