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Health officials use a thermometer to screen passengers at the arrival hall of Murtala Mohammed International airport in Lagos, Nigeria, Oct. 20, 2014 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

Nigeria Beats Ebola, but Offers Little Leadership to West Africa

Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014

On Oct. 20, the World Health Organization declared Nigeria “free of Ebola transmission,” meaning that 42 days had elapsed since the last new case developed. Nigeria’s Ebola outbreak began in July, when an infected Liberian diplomat arrived in Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city. The outbreak included 19 cases, of which seven proved fatal (other sources give the numbers as 20 cases and eight deaths).

The international news media, accustomed to portraying Nigeria negatively, has rushed to publish story after story lauding Nigeria’s efforts against Ebola and explaining how Nigeria stopped the outbreak. Nigeria’s plaudits on Ebola are deserved, but the halt of this outbreak calls attention to the primarily defensive, rather than offensive, Nigerian response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa. Nigeria’s actions at home and relative inaction abroad on Ebola reflect the broader pattern of receding Nigerian leadership in West African affairs as compared with the 1990s and the 2000s, when Nigeria appeared to be actively cultivating, rather than passively consuming, regional leadership. ...

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