A Nigerian human rights activist and lawyer, Ata Ikiddeh writes an open letter to Garba Shehu, the spokesperson of Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari in reply to Shehu’s op-ed saying Buhari will become Nigeria’s best president ever. He says that Buhari has committed a grave crime against humanity by sitting on the funding meant to immunize Nigeria’s children from polio, hence exposing 5 million Nigerian children to a life-crippling disease called polio.
Dear Mallam Garba Shehu,
I just read your article praising President Buhari, may I join my patriotic hands with yours in your optimism. We need to be positive over Nigeria’s fortunes, the success of President Buhari – is our collective triumph.
However sir, you are yet to address a matter of grave concern – not just for Nigerians but for the entire world.
The president has been accused by Global Development Partners of sitting atop N12.8 Billion, budgeted for the immunisation of 5 million Nigerian Children against polio.
I hate to think that while the president your boss, was administering polio vaccine to his granddaughter before the world’s media last year, he went back and sat on the health and well being of over 5 million Nigerian children. As I write this open letter to you, two children have been confirmed crippled for life by the Federal Ministry of Health.
Did you know Mr. Shehu, that for every case of polio detected, ten other children are likely to have been infected? So, we might have right now 20 new cases. That is provided we have only detected two fresh cases of wild polio in the North East. How many more are out there, we don’t know? But sufficeth to say, a generation of Nigerian children will be on wheel chairs, they will carry with them a life long physical stigma. They will be a burden to their parents, the community and to Nigeria’s healthcare system for the rest of their life. Do you see why some of us are angry because this could have been prevented!
For two years, from 2014 the former administration successfully fought polio, Nigeria was for the first time polio free since she gained independence in 1960. There was a global celebration, this was not just a Nigerian success, it was a global success for humanity.
Mr Bill Gates whose organisation the Bill Gates and Melinda Gates Foundation have been at the forefront of this polio war for years, congratulated Nigeria.
We all held our breath waiting for the 2 year moratorium to elapse before being given our official certification. That certificate was was set to be given to Nigeria 3 weeks ago, on July 24, 2016. When we saw the president giving his granddaughter the vaccine last year – we all rejoiced with him.
Only to hear this devastating news! Then, we heard reports of what happened – UNBELIEVABLE… Monies budgeted for, were not released for Polio immunisation! We hope this is not true.
Can you please help us explain this statement by Dr. Aminu of PACFaF, a development partner? He said:
“We have less than five months to the end of 2016 yet nothing has been released for immunization, for procurement of vaccines and other logistics,” – Dr. Aminu Magashi, project director for Community Health and Research Initiative, part of the coalition Partnership for Advocacy for Child and Family Health, PACFaH.
Therefore, before you say Buhari will be the best president ever, ponder on these things. You may want to elucidate us further on your Boko Haram story because you have repeatedly informed Nigerians, Boko Haram had been driven out from our territories.
Besides didn’t the last administration under heavy gunfire from Boko Haram insurgents – I recall the killing of healthcare volunteers conducting immunization in the Northern part of the country – push back these enemy combatants in order to give this much needed vaccines to children in Gworza and Jere local government areas?
This government, in the last one week, on hearing the two cases detected, after a number of refusals, has suddenly embarked on an emergency immunisation campaign in North East Nigeria – Can you tell us what suddenly changed? Did Boko Haram suddenly evaporate from this territory or has your grand monumental negligence of global proportions just dawned on you!?
Did you know in some parts of Pakistan, the polio vaccine is given at gunpoint, parents are forced to administer the vaccine to their children or are shot dead? That is how important this vaccine is to the survival and quality of the human race. Therefore to hear funds were not released and some children have been infected, may border on Crimes Against Humanity! You may have just failed the entire world!
Are you aware that the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), whilst the OAU Assembly of Heads of States and Governments adopted the African Union Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (CRCW), in July 1990. Nigeria has signed both international instruments and had ratified them in 1991 and 2000 respectively and it was passed into law by the National Assembly in 2003.
Both international instruments contain universal set of standards and principles for survival, development, protection and participation of children. It reflects children as human beings and as subjects of their own rights. The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) outlines the human rights to be respected and protected for every child under the age of 18 years and requires that these rights are implemented.
Under the Child’s Rights Law which has been domesticated at the federal level in Nigeria, are you aware you may have violated the Fundamental Human Rights of 5 million Nigerian children currently at risk. Children entitled to healthcare. Did you know immunisation is a right for every child living on this planet according to the UN, UNICEF, and W.H.O?
A quiet global and national storm is already brewing over this matter; Mr. Shehu, I therefore advise, you may want to put your optimism in check. Nobody is criticising the president, we need an explanation.
I urge you to hold a world press conference over this matter, a press release is not enough, people want to ask questions. Be the first, take pre-emptive action, take the lead. Don’t wait to react to what might happen from here on.
If I don’t get a response from you, I will be writing an open letter to your boss, the president.
I am a registered member of Amnesty International and I will be forwarding this open letter to my organisation.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
From a Concerned Nigerian Patriot!
Barrister Ata Ikiddeh