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Ebola: NUT, Others Oppose Sept 22 Resumption Date

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The Federal Government, teachers and some parents across the country have sharply disagreed over the new September 22 resumption date for primary and secondary schools announced by the Federal Government last week
While the Federal Government says that all necessary measures have been put in place to check any possible outbreak of Ebola, given that there is no known cases of the virus in any part of the country, both the teachers and parents are jittery and are asking for caution, as the scare remains palpable in most cities and communities.
In fact, the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) has threatened to proceed on an indefinite nationwide strike, if the government insists on the September 22, resumption date, while some parents have said that their children will not be allowed to resume until the government can guarantee that there is no known cases in the country again.
But the Federal Government, again, yesterday, said that the September 22 resumption date for primary and secondary schools in the country would not be extended because there are no strong reasons for such an extension.
Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, who stated this while briefing State House correspondents after the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting, insisted that those who have reasons to believe that the schools should not re-open on that date should forward same to the Federal Government.
The Nigerian Medical Association, the NUT as well as other professional bodies have called for the extension of the resumption date for primary and secondary schools until the country is free of the  Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).
But speaking after the FEC meeting, Chukwu said those calling for the extension of the schools resumption date were being driven by “irrational fears”.
He said unlike other countries where the disease is transmitted through community contact, Nigeria’s case was different and there was no cause for worry.
He said: “The minister of education, after meeting with the commissioners for education from the 36 states and FCT decided when public schools should open, which is 22nd of September. In taking that decision, they considered the information that was given by the Federal Ministry of Health that there is actually no reason now, with the expert information we have at hand, why schools cannot resume earlier than the original date of October 13. I think people should just allow us to do the work we have been doing very professionally.
“It was based on advice given by the Ministry of Health that the minister of education took the original decision that it was going to be in October and nobody quarreled with the minister. Now, the minister, based on expert advice, has come back to say the resumption date will now be September 22 and some people are now quarrelling with it. I think we should allow the authorities to do their job. It is not an ordinary matter to be discussed the way we want to discuss it.
“If you have any evidence why there is need to review it (the resumption date of schools), supply such evidence to the minister of health and we will look at it.
He added that at the moment, there are still 490 people under surveillance in Port Harcourt while those under surveillance in Lagos have reduced to only 16.
Government’s decision was, however, met with displeasure, especially as private school proprietors, teachers, parents and stakeholders differ on whether or not schools will be free from EVD by then. However, President, NUT, Mr. Michael Alogba, says that the decision “is not a good idea at all and students should not resume until there is no single case of Ebola in the country.”
“The Federal Government has done really well in combating the scourge but I would have expected them to stick to the October 13 resumption date because we are still at a point where we are worried about the outbreak in Rivers State and the spread to other states.
The NUT has threatened to go on strike if the Federal Government fails to put in place measures to protect its members and pupils from contracting the deadly Ebola Virus Disease before the  resumption of schools.
On Tuesday, the House of Representatives directed its Committee on Education to take another look at the September 22 resumption date in view of the fact that the EVD had yet to be contained in the country.
Before Alogba spoke, the committee Chairman, Aminu Usman, said that the committee would meet with the leadership of the Nigerian Medical Association and the Federal Ministry of Education over the September 22 date.
Alogba said the NUT had already written the Federal Government about its position on the September 22 date.
He warned that if the new date was not extended by Monday, the NUT national executive council would meet on Tuesday in Abuja to take a drastic action.
The NUT chairman said, “In any sane society, decision such as this will not be taken until the government and all stakeholders have met and discussed the issue at stake and are sure that the nation is scientifically and medical free from the scourge.
“But this is not the case in our country. When they arrived at the early October 13 date, they wrote us and we agreed with their argument but when this new date was given, they did not because of the influence of some powerful school owners who put pressure on them (Federal Government) to announce the September 22 date.
“You are aware of what is happening at the Obafemi Awolowo University. How are we sure that there is no primary or secondary school pupil that has had  contact with an Ebola patient.
It would be recalled that the Federal Government had called on stakeholders in the education sector to put measures in place to create an Ebola-free school environment for children. Each state ministry of education is expected to train, at least two officials from every school on how to handle any suspected case of Ebola as well as embark on immediate sensitisation of all teaching and non-teaching staff on preventive measures.
The Education Minister, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, who made this known, said “All primary and secondary schools, both public and private, should be provided with a minimum of two blood pressure measuring equipment by the states’ ministries of education. These ministries should determine the number of such equipment required and forward same to the Federal Ministry of Education. The Federal Ministry of Education will liaise with the Federal Ministry of Health to ensure that appropriate equipment is procured.
“Regular washing of hands is part of the preventive measures and there must be steady supply of water in schools. All states should ensure that this is put in place as the schools reopen.”
But despite this preventive measures, educationists and parents are still skeptical about allowing students to resume as more still need to be done to ensure the safety of the children.
Also, the All Nigeria Confederation of Principals of Secondary Schools (ANCOPSS) has expressed reservations on the September 22 resumption date announced by the Federal Government.
In a telephone interview with our correspondent yesterday, the National Secretary, Mr. Kevin Nwankwo said there has yet to be evidence of any preventive measure taken by the states to curb the spread of the Ebola Virus Disease. He therefore urged government to rescind its decision on the announced date.
“Until yesterday, there was nothing to show that teachers are being trained. I am not aware of sanitisers or training in any school yet.

Speaker, Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt Hon Otelemaba Amachree , paying his last respects to the body of late first Speaker of the  State Assembly, Late Chief R.R.Briggs, during a valedictory session in Port Harcourt. Photo: Chris Monyanaga

Speaker, Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt Hon Otelemaba Amachree , paying his last respects to the body of late first Speaker of the State Assembly, Late Chief R.R.Briggs, during a valedictory session in Port Harcourt. Photo: Chris Monyanaga

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RSG Alerts On Orchestrated Media Campaign

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The Rivers State Government has raised alarm over alleged moves by some critics of the government to use selected media houses in the state to denigrate the state government.
A statement signed by the state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, yesterday, reads, “The Rivers State Government is aware of clandestine plans by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State to use selected media houses in the state to denigrate the government of Governor Nyesom Wike.
“This is as a result of the intimidating sterling performance of Governor Wike in infrastructure, healthcare, education, agriculture, rural transformation, housing development, administration of justice, social welfare and sports development.
“This orchestrated campaign spearheaded by a defeated and dumped governorship aspirant of the APC, Dr. Dakuku Peterside is designed to portray the government of Governor Wike as one that is not meeting the developmental aspirations of Rivers people.
“However, the uncommon transformation of the 23 local government areas as witnessed during the last six years of projects commissioning and flag off shows clearly that Governor Wike is actually meeting the yearnings of the people.
“The fact that Rivers people that turn out en mass at the various projects sites to heartily welcome their beloved governor and his guests drawn from all political divides is a clear indication that Rivers people can no longer be swayed by cheap politically induced blackmail.
“The truth of the matter is that the APC government that boasted that Governor Wike will not see money to pay workers’ salaries and execute projects has been humbled by the revolution in governance currently witnessed in the state.
“Instead of people like Dr. Dakuku Peterside and his acolytes to eat the humble pie, they are busy looking for cheap popularity through sponsored appearances in the media.
“No matter how hard these detractors push their propaganda, Governor Wike will never be distracted in executing his social contract with the people of Rivers State.
“In the next few weeks, more projects that have direct bearing to the lives of Rivers people will be unveiled.
“Governor Wike’s promise to continue working as if this is his first tenure and not abandon any project remains sacrosanct.
“Rivers people are watching those whose stock in trade is to dance naked and pray that they continue as merchants of mischief, falsehood and baseless allegations.”
“The people of Rivers State love Governor Wike whose outstanding achievements in salvaging the state from the dearth of basic infrastructural development required for speedy socioeconomic transformation has received national and international applause.
“Therefore, no amount of negative propaganda by the failed APC can diminish the legacy of Governor Wike in Rivers State.
“Rather than launder the thoroughly battered image of the APC, such media appearances by Dr. Dakuku Peterside and his cohorts will further expose APC’s penchant for lies and deception which is now a public knowledge.
“The former governor of Rivers State, Dr. Peter Odili, has confirmed that Governor Wike is the best Rivers State has produced.
“’I have been there. And I make bold to say Governor Nyesom Wike, you are the best,’ Dr. Odili said.
“Odili’s comment serves as an answer to those masquerading as informed commentators with puerile and suffocating commentaries”, the statement added.

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Bandits In Trouble As Super Tucano Aircraft Arrives

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The first batch of A-29 Super Tucano aircraft has arrived in Kano, yesterday, at about 12.34 pm.
The NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, confirmed the arrival of the fighter aircraft in a statement.
“On hand to receive the aircraft were the Hon. Minister of Defence, Maj-Gen Bashir Magashi (rtd); Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen Farouk Yahaya; and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao”, he said.

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We’ve No Patience With Failure, Oyedepo Lashes Out At Sacked Pastors

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The General Overseer and Founder of The Living Faith Church International also known as Winners’ Chapel, Bishop David Oyedepo, has reacted to the recent sack of over 40 pastors by the church.
One of the affected Pastors, Peter Godwin, took to social media, claiming they were sacked for not generating enough income.
Godwin, who was in one of the church’s branches in Ekiti State, had claimed, “I was told by the management that the church doesn’t operate at a loss.
“They also told me that the total income that is being generated from my station should be able to cater for my welfare and accommodation, so as a result of low income, I’m hereby dismissed.”
Reacting to the allegation in a video posted on the social media, Oyedepo said the sack of the pastors was not about money, adding that the latter were sacked as a result of their failure and the church “has no patience with failure.
“Money? Nonsense! We have never lacked it, and yet, we have never prayed for it.
“We are just simply obeying God, and He is backing up what He is asking us to do. Awesome God,” he noted.
On those criticising the sack, the GO said, “People are confused about our ministry. I learnt some fellows said, you know, they are not bringing income, that is why they asked them to go”.
He added, “We asked you to go because you are unfruitful. Unfruitful! Blatant failure. Doing what there? We have no patience with failure here.
“When we employed 7,000 people at a time, social media was dead.
“We have more employees in this organisation than most of the states. No one is owed a dime salary and we don’t borrow, we don’t beg. Ask our bank whether we take overdraft.
“We are covenant bound, working in the light of God’s word, enjoying an open Heaven.”

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