From George Onyejiuwa, Owerri
Jolted by the unabated consequences of the global COVID-19 pandemic, renowned human rights lawyer cum activist, Femi Falana, has challenged African governments not to wait naively and irresponsibly on those who he said might not have compassion on the poor African countries, insisting that they should fund the health sector as a public good.
The activist regretted that Nigeria as a nation was producing vaccines in the 1970s but is now unable to talk of its own vaccines against coronavirus in 2021.
He contended that the challenges of the hoarding of vaccines by the developed countries is that Africa should begin to prepare for future pandemics by producing its own vaccines.
Falana stated this in keynote address entitled “Lesson of the pandemic for our collective Humanity”, which he delivered at the 2nd Directorate of General Studies (DGS) at the International Conference organised by the with the theme “Humanism in the era of pandemic at the Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO).
The human rights lawyer expressed shock that with all the billions garnered by the private sector Collation Against Covid (CACOVID) last year, the federal and state governments are yet to report noticeable improvements in healthcare, infrastructure.
‘Not enough molecular laboratories have been built. Ventilators are not in adequate supply in hospitals and isolation centres. Even with all the warnings that the pitiable situations in India, Brazil and Turkey are presenting to the world, Nigeria is not getting prepared for the possibility of another virulent wave with massive production of medical Oxygen and other essential materials to save lives,’ he lamented.
Speaking extensively, on the positions, policies and actions of a number of nations in respect of the pandemic, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria noted that some countries are stocking vaccines more than their urgent needs while some countries lack vaccines to save the extremely needy sections of their populations.
He expressed sadness that Nigeria with a population of more than 200 million people, only about a million persons had been vaccinated.
Dr Dan Chris Amadi, Ag Director of the DGS, FUTO, in an address earlier explained that the FUTO International Conference was borne out of the desire of the staff of the DGS to create a platform for harvest of ideas and cross fertilization of views through interdisciplinary discourse among intellectuals, academic and researches of different inclinations.
Vice Chancellor of the University Professor Francis C Eze, who declared the conference open through the DVC (Administration) Professor Julius Sunday Orebiyi, described the theme of the conference, “Humanism in the face of the COVID-19 Pandemic”, as topical and timely.
As a foremost university of technology in the country, Eze said that FUTO had not only been in the forefront of excellence in teaching, but also in researches.
He disclosed that the Department of Chemistry of the institution was prominent in the production of quality hand sanitizers which according to him, were distributed through the Imo state section of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).