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Buhari celebrates as Nigeria is declared polio-free

by Ayodeji Onibalusi
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Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, has congratulated Nigerians as the country celebrates a historic achievement after the World Health Organization declared Nigeria free of Wild Polio Virus.

A baby receiving a shot of Polio Vaccine

OYOGist.com recalls that in 2016, Nigeria experienced a setback in the fight against the Polio Virus when, after 2 years without a case, another outbreak occurred.

However, since then, Nigeria has not had a single case of Polio Virus, necessitating the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare the country polio-free.

On the 18th of June, 2020, the WHO announced that Nigeria’s complete documentation for Wild Polio Virus free status was accepted by the Africa Regional Certification Commission for polio eradication (ARCC).

This declaration means there are only two countries left with the wild paralyzing virus.

President Muhammadu Buhari, on Sunday, 21st of June, congratulated the entire country following the declaration by the World Health that the country is free from the Wild Polio Virus.

Sharing the exciting news on Twitter, President Buhari first congratulated Nigerians, then proceeded to thank the multiple partners that made the effort a success.

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Read President Buhari’s full address as Nigeria is declared Polio free below:

“I congratulate all Nigerians as our country attains this historic status of being free from the Wild Polio Virus. So many partners, local and international, have contributed tirelessly to this feat — we are deeply grateful to each and every one of you.

“This achievement reflects the resilient spirit of Nigerians, in particular the strength and capacity of our health workers, who drew resources and support from multiple sectors to deal a final blow to the Wild Polio Virus

“This achievement is not only one of the great successes of this generation of Nigerians but also one of the obvious dividends of this administration, which is consistent with our progressive investment in the health of our people since 2015.

“This landmark achievement is also a promise kept to all Nigerians. As you will recall, in August 2015, barely three months after we assumed office, I promised Nigerians that: “My government shall provide the necessary resources and commitment required to strengthen the health system, routine immunization and ensure the country is certified Polio-free.

“When, in 2016, Nigeria suffered a major setback with the outbreak of the Wild Polio Virus in Borno State, after about 2 years without any case, I directed the immediate release of N9.8billion to the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) to contain the outbreak.

“Subsequently, we have been meeting all our financial obligations to bilateral and multilateral agreements, and have also provided the moral support and leadership required at all levels to motivate the men and women in the frontline of polio eradication in Nigeria.

“In addition, we sincerely appreciate our donors and development partners who stood by the country during those trying times.

“This achievement of polio free status is a hard-won battle spanning over three decades of hard work and dedication by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), the Federal, States and Local Governments, polio eradication teams at all levels, our donors and development partners, both local and international.

“As we recall, the polio eradication structures were used when Nigeria successfully eradicated Ebola Virus Disease within the shortest possible time in 2014.

“I am glad that these same human, material and technological resources have been deployed to steadily increase Routine Immunization coverage and are being organized to implement the fight against community transmission of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This big battle would not have been won without the support of our donors and development partners including Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Aliko Dangote Foundation, Rotary International, United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, USAID, Sir Emeka Offor Foundation, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), European Union, Global Health Canada, German Development Bank (KfW), WHO, UNICEF, Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Polio Survivors Group, the media, and faith-based and other non-governmental organizations.

“Let me also acknowledge the immense contribution of traditional and religious leaders who mobilized communities to accept the immunization program and other government programs.

“The final theatre of the polio eradication fight was particularly championed by the Northern Traditional Leaders Committee on Polio Eradication and Primary Health Care (NTLC) under the guidance of His Highness, Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Saad Abubakar, and the strategic leadership of the late Shehu of Bama, Alh. Kyari Ibn Umar El-Kanemi.

“We thank you all for the leadership and partnership over the years.

“This victory is for us all, and for future generations of Nigerians.”

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