Abuja (NAN) – President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday defended the Sept. 22 school resumption date, saying there was currently no case of the disease in the country to warrant extension of the holiday.
Jonathan spoke to State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, when he reacted to the threat by the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) to embark on strike over government’s refusal to shift the date.
He said that the disease had been effectively contained, adding that keeping schools closed would send a wrong message to the international community about the situation in the country.
The president said government was prepared and had put measures in place to deal with any possible future outbreak of the virus in the country.
He said: “Presently, there is no Ebola case in Nigeria; nobody in Nigeria has the disease now.
“Most of the people who came down with the disease have recovered. Out of the 19, we lost seven and the others have recovered, although there a few people we are still observing.
“I am not saying we may not record Ebola case again. As long as the disease is still in the West Coast – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the likelihood that a character like the Late Sawyer may come in through one way or the other is there.
“But government is also very mindful of that. Presently our air and sea ports as well as land border posts are properly protected.
“If Sawyer were to arrive in the country now, no Nigerian would contact the virus because of the level of preparation.’’
Jonathan argued that those calling for extension of the holiday were ignorant of the wrong signals it would send to the international community about the Ebola situation in the country.
He said that Nigerians were being stigmatised and segregated in other countries because of the negative narrative about the status of the virus in the country.
“If you are a Nigerian today and you travel to some countries, they don’t even want you to enter the countries.
“Our athletes were segregated in China, they had to return back. In China they are even asking ministers of the Federal Republic to show proof of being free of the disease, and this is quite discouraging.
“What people don’t know is that as long as you close your institutions because of Ebola, the ambassadors from various countries that are here with us and the high commissioners send dispatches weekly or monthly to their home countries about what is happening in Nigeria.
“As long as we Nigerians close our public institutions because of Ebola, the dispatches that go out to the rest of the world is that Ebola is a problem in Nigeria.
“As long as we declare Ebola a problem in Nigeria, any Nigerian that travels out will be treated as somebody with Ebola.
“We’ve been able to manage the disease and the whole world is happy with us, and we must tell the world that we have managed Ebola and no Nigerian should be segregated because of Ebola.
“If NUT wants Nigeria to close schools until December, then invariably they are saying that until December Nigerians should be discriminated against.’’
Jonathan described the NUT’s threat as unnecessary and uncalled for.
He gave credit to all Nigerians for their cooperation and support to government in the effective management of the situation.
The president also lauded the state governors for their role in the success story, specifically those of Lagos and Rivers where cases of the disease were recorded.