Omicron: Professor Tomori at COVID-19 summit blames FG for UK, Canada travel ban

A professor of virology, Oyewale Tomori, on Monday took a swipe on the Federal Government for the travel ban imposed on Nigeria by Canada and the United Kingdom.

Tomori said this at the national COVID-19 summit organised by the presidential steering committee (PSC), saying the ban came because the Federal Government “condoned errors of commission”.

Following the reported cases of  Omicron COVID variant, Canada and UK issued travel bans on South Africa and other African countries, including Nigeria.

Chairman of PSC and Secretary to the Goverment of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, however, lamented that with  the emergence of Omicron, Nigeria, like some other countries have become targets of restrictive measures.

He said this has to be only on a strong basis of science and data. “Nigeria joins the WHO and other countries in calling on countries of the world to implement risk based international protocols that are in line with international health regulations whilst we are developing a new pandemic treaty that will avert this type of situation.

“Global health security is our collective responsibility irrespective of our economic status,” he said.

Speaking during the summit with the theme ‘Global Health Security Threat: Repositioning to End the Pandemic and Build Back Better’, the virologist said in contrast to the accusations of racism by the banned countries, Nigeria is only paying for “overlooking errors”.

“I woke up today to hear that Canada no longer recognises my genuine vaccination card. And Britain has clamped a travel ban on us. A few days ago, I had to know there was Omicron in Nigeria from outside. The same Canada was telling me that Nigerians who travelled out with negative COVID lab results were ‘omicronised’, before my own CDC finally tells me that we had the variant, detected in samples collected from people who recently travelled from South Africa,” he said.

“Were they people on the entourage of President Ramaphosa? They did not tell. We painfully call the reactions of the UK and Canada racism, inequity. But I say we are paying for condoning our errors of commission and overlooking our errors of omission.”

Speaking further, Tomori called on President Muhammadu Buhari to promote an enabling environment for Nigerians to excel.

“Mr. President, the current generation of Nigerians is much smarter than my generation. Give them one-tenth of the enabling opportunity and environment which good governance gave my generation, and Nigeria will be donating vaccines to poor Europe as India is doing; Nigeria will be providing loans to China, and not the other way round,” he said.

“The first epidemic we must address is the one affecting our culture and true Nigerianess. We must have a nation where national interest buries self-interest. Otherwise, this summit will become a mirage and a vapour. It will be burnt to ashes by the fire of evil that plagues us.

“Unless we build back better on our culture, the outcome of the summit will descend into the valley of the disregarded and disremembered, and become another expensive exercise in futility.”

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