With just one polio case in 2010 – Nigeria welcomes symbolic football

The symbolic KPOA football received a rousing welcome when it touched down In Abuja, Nigeria on 10 April into the safe hands of KPOA coordinator – District Governor Kazeem Mustapha – just in time to mobilize public support for the next massive immunization rounds on 24-27 April targeting 85 million children in 19 West and Central African countries.

So why Abuja? In February 2009 the governors of the 36 states collectively signed the ‘Abuja Commitments to Polio Eradication’, public committing to provide the necessary leadership to eradicate polio. Mechanisms have been put in place to monitor implementation of the ‘Abuja Commitments’ which are clearly working.

“Polio cases in Nigeria are at an all-time low, with the country seeing just one case in 2010, and now is the time to make sure we sustain this progress. The arrival of the ‘Kick Polio Out of Africa’ ball is an opportunity for us to not only recognize Nigeria’s progress, but also to renew our dedication to seeing the end of this disease in Africa, and worldwide,” said Busuyi Onabulu, who chairs Rotary’s PolioPlus Committee in Nigeria. “The next national immunization days begin 24 April. The ball therefore arrives in Nigeria at a very opportune time.”

Above: The ball was signed by Minister of State for Health Alhaji Suleiman Bello in his first official assignment at a ceremony at the National Stadium Press Centre in Abuja. In the middle is the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, while DG Kazeem Mustapha enjoys the moment. Also attending were the new Emir of Dass Usman Bilyaminu, the Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Health Linus Awute, WHO representative Dr Muhammad Pate, and other government officials and dignitaries.

Successful immunization campaigns now have Nigeria on the cusp of making history. Only one case of polio whas been reported this year.

Left:  Holding the KPOA ball – a symbol of hope for a polio-free Nigeria –

Dr Mohammad Pate Chief Executive Officer NPHCDA; HRH Emir of Arugungu Alhaji Samaila Mohammad Chairman Northern Traditional Leader; DG Kazeem Mustapha in yellow apron; Busuyi Onabolu Chairman NNPPC; HRH Dr Halliru Yahaya Emir of Shonga and also the Chairman Governing Council NPHCDA.

The three-day programme from April 11 – 13 was jam packed with a series of events which included a cocktail party on Sunday – April 11 at the residence of Past RI President Jonathan Majiyagbe in Asokoro District, Abuja, a formal presentation of the ball to NPHCDA at the Traditional Leaders  Committee meeting on April 12 – an official reception on behalf of the Government of Nigeria, NPHCDA at its headquarters in Abuja.  On the final day – a press conference and photo opportunity was held at the National Stadium Press Centre where the ball was presented to the Hon. Ministers of Health and Sports. A novelty match followed.

Here are some photographs to capture the colourful events …

 

Dr. Halliru Yahaya,  HRH Emir of Shonga throwing the ball to Busuyi Onabolu …
 
HRH Emir of Dass and the representative of the Northern Traditional Leaders,  kicked the ball.
 
 
 
Clearly, all have their eye on the ball!
 
Below – from left to right:  Representative of the Federal Ministry of Health; Centre – Yaw Osai Appiah, 1st Secretary/Vice Consul Ghana High Commission in Nigeria in Chelsea FC Blue T-shirt; third person is Dr Kazeem Mustapha, District Governor 9125 and the Coordinator KPOA.
 
 
 
 
Thanks to our sponsors – DHL!

Next stop – Cotonou, Benin.

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