Wednesday, August 6, 2014 7:51 pm
Governors of the Southwest geopolitical zone of Nigeria held an emergency meeting in Lagos, Nigeria on Wednesday over the dreaded Ebola Virus Disease, EVD, pledging to unite to fight the pandemic.
Governors present were Babaunde Fashola of Lagos, Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State; Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, while Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State was represented his deputy, Moses Adeyemi.
Arising from the meeting, the governors stressed the need for all to be on the alert as a result of the danger posed by Ebola and called on the Federal Government to police the nation’s borders to avert further spread of the disease.
Speaking with newsmen at the State House, Ikeja, Lagos, Ogun Governor, Amosun said his state was more prone and at risk of the deadly disease as the state has about 100 borders with neighbouring West African countries.
“We are more prone and more at risk really in this Ebola virus than so many others and I did mention that we have put all our security agencies and the respective medics at these illegal borders. But when you have in excess of 100, you and I know that the state doesn’t have the capacity really in manning these borders.
“Indeed, it’s not our responsibility to man these borders, we should collaborate with the Federal Government which is what we are doing. As of the last, we have about 70(illegal borders) that you can take containers and trailers and what have you, even on a normal day, people hardly use the official borders, it’s the illegal ones that you see them packing all those smuggled cars and now it becomes more worrisome by the time you look at the fact that everybody now is taking proactive measures of banning flights,” he said
According to him, “if people cannot fly, you know obviously they would find a way of entering the country, which is why we are calling on the federal government to assist us. We need men and materials to man those borders. As we speak we have about 68 Hilux vans manning those borders and not just vehicles alone, we need the manpower of immigration, customs and even our medics have to be there.
“And that is why I have been shouting that we need help if we are going to succeed in the prevention of this Ebola virus and we have agreed that we would interface with the federal government to see what they are doing. We learnt that they are doing something, but we need to see what and what they are doing. We are exposed to over 100 borders in Ogun State; I know Oyo too will have stories to tell. Don’t forget that this disease has been localized more or less and everybody agrees that it is within this West African sub-region and of course we have that access where people can come in easily.”
Speaking, Mimiko said there was no question about the fact that manning the borders was the responsibility of every Nigerian and that everybody should know that those who aid and abate illegal entry into Nigeria now could be up to something that could be dangerous to the health of the country.
“So, we out there, all Nigerians and adjoining villages, everybody must take responsibility of combating this new challenge as a nation and it’s very important for the message to go out,” he said.
Lagos Governor, Fashola added that he had been meeting with the Commissioners for Health in the Southwest states and “we felt that we should finish our meeting and get details, technical information from our policy and health leaders and then come and share with you about the collaboration that is taking place between us in the management of the Ebola Virus.
“Essentially, we have addressed issues of containment and the challenges of illegal borders, we have felt the need to express appreciation to health workers who have taken responsibility from the front by attending to people who are showing symptoms and people who are suspected of having contact with the very first case that was reported in a man who came in from Liberia.”
He said all of what the state had now were primarily related to that very first case while all the suspicious cases that had been confirmed and sicknesses that have followed were directed related to that first case.
Fashola called on the Nigeria Medical Association, NMA, to suspend its strike and join forces with the government to contain the spread of the deadly Ebola Virus, saying that the governors were also discussing possible support by the federal government and coordination among states.
“We feel that it is imperative that our collaboration suggests to us that Nigerians, especially those in these states and in other states should not panic and that we would overcome this with the very best practices and collaboration, it is important therefore that advocacy must continue about what the risks are and the sources are,” he stated.
Ekiti Governor, Fayemi said the governors also discussed the issue of the trial drug which had been discovered could cure Ebola in the United States.
“We have heard that there is a test drug that is currently being applied to the doctor who was taken from Liberia to Emery University Hospital in the USA and is being treated there and has some impact on his improvement. But this is still a drug that is on trail. From what we gathered, it has been tested on animals, but it has not been tested on humans yet, except for this particular case and there are processes a country has to go through to procure drugs that are still on trial.
“Even the FDA has not certified this drug for use yet and if we are going to access it at all, my own limited knowledge of this process is that it can only be a controlled trial centre for it at this stage, it can’t be a certified drug for use. If what the federal government is trying to do is to be one of the centres to test the efficacy of the drug, I think that is well meaning, that is commendable and we should encourage the FG to take that action,” he stated.