President Goodluck Jonathan has appealed to the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) and other unions to support government’s September 22, 2014 resumption date for schools nationwide.
Speaking with journalists at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the president maintained that the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) has been successfully contained in the country.
He explained that government has taken adequate and globally accepted measures to check the spread of the deadly disease in the country.
The NUT had insisted that its members would not resume until hand gloves, sanitizers, infra-red thermometers, running water and soap have been provided in schools. The union further added that in states where the necessary Ebola training and sensitization had not been done and the gadgets provided, teachers would continue to remain at home.
But President Jonathan noted that the relevant authorities have put in place necessary equipment and gadgets at the nation’s airports and other entry points to stop any further importation of the disease into Nigeria.
Keeping Nigerian schools closed over Ebola, he said, would send wrong signal to other countries and make them to treat all Nigerians travelers as Ebola carriers.
Stressing that Ebola is presently not an issue, Jonathan said: “we have been able to manage Ebola and the whole world is happy with us and we must tell the whole world that we have managed Ebola and no Nigerian should be segregated because of Ebola”.
“In fact Osun State was to have their festival and the news came to me to cancel it I said no, Ebola is no longer a threat in Nigeria and we must tell the world that we have been able to contain Ebola”, he stated.
Continuing, the president said, “Yes, Ebola is in the West Coast, it could happen in Ghana, it could happen in Senegal or any of the West African countries or beyond but they have not closed down their institutions. If we still have Ebola definitely we will not open any of our institutions but we don’t have Ebola”.
He added; “I dare ask is NUT saying that until the world is able to end Ebola is Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone before Nigeria should open our institutions? It is not right. Government is not a fool, it is not any labour body that asked us to take that decision, we took it because we felt that we must protect our citizens”.
“This is one government that discusses with anybody that has issues to discuss. Even NUT has no reason to threaten industrial action because of Ebola, the governors took that decision. I called all the governors of the states to come with their commissioners of health.
“On the day of that meeting I did not even allow them to speak because they will play politics. I asked all the commissioners including the Secretary of Health in Abuja, to brief us on the steps they have taken and they listened to their colleagues because it was also a peer review process.
“If you are hiding certain things by the time you hear your colleagues you will go back and get things done. We are sure that even if one mad Sawyer comes again, nobody will contract Ebola. We have managed Ebola very well, the world is happy we must tell the world that no Nigerian should be suspected of Ebola and that is the position of government”.
Appealing to NUT, the president said: “I will plead with NUT and other unions that this does not require industrial action. They should commend government, they should work with us, they are Nigerians, all Nigerians must work together to make sure that we contain Ebola. Why do we want to create problems where it is not necessary, it is uncalled for”.
President Jonathan commended the Lagos and Rivers State Governors, Babatunde Fashola and Rotimi Amaechi respectively, for working with the Federal Government to contain the disease in their states.