From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Governors of the 36 states of the federation, under the auspices of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), will, tomorrow, decide when the Coronavirus vaccination will kick-off across the country.
In a statement by Head, Media and Public Affairs of the NGF, Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, the governors expressed worry over the intensity of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Nigeria’s tardy commencement of inoculation that is sweeping through countries globally.
Chairman of the Forum and Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, had, last week, said governors would be given COVID-19 vaccine on live television to encourage Nigerians to accept the vaccine.
Fayemi revealed this to journalists after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, when asked if governors would also take the vaccines on live television.
He said: “Absolutely. We too will like to demonstrate to our citizens that we believe that vaccines would work.
“Don’t forget, we have a lot of experience on this. Governors Forum managed the polio vaccines administration in the country and we have garnered a lot of experience.”
Tomorrow’s meeting, the first for year 2021, by the governors, will hold virtually, in conformity with the COVID-19 protocols. It is the 23rd of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum teleconferences.
The statement noted that the Governors’ PTF Committee, headed by Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, which is charged with the responsibility of liaising between the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 and the Governors’ Forum, will brief the Forum on what it needs to know on the vaccines and the way forward.
Okowa is also expected to give a panoramic view of the second wave of the pandemic.
Fayemi will brief the forum on his meeting with president Buhari as well as update the forum on all pending matters that have remained inconclusive, flowing from the previous year’s meetings.
The invitation to governors issued by the Director General of the NGF, Mr Asishana B Okauru, shows that the matters include ALGON and FAAC deductions, external debts reconciliation (2002-2018), Stamp Duty collections in respect of the governors’ letter to the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), and another response to the Ministry of Water Resources, regarding the lingering Water Resources Bill among others. All disbursements of funds to states on the three tranches of PAYE will also be tabled.
Governors will also be updated on the States’ Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability programme for results (SFTAS) for the preceding year, 2020.
The governors are also expected to entertain three presentations from the Minister of Water Resources, Suliaman Adamu, on its World Bank Support; a feedback from the Federal Government on the Medium and Long Term National Development Agenda; and enhancing IGR through a harmonised Traffic Management System by Dimensions Information Technology, LLC, a non-governmental actor which is seeking the nod of state governors.
FG releases N10bn for domestic vaccines
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Finance has released N10 billion to support domestic vaccine production to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.
Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, made the disclosure at the briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 briefing yesterday. He urged Nigerians to ignore claims by some persons to have COVID-19 vaccines for sale in the country.
“The Ministry of Finance has released N10 billion to support domestic vaccine production. While we are working to develop our own vaccines, Nigeria is exploring options for licensed production in collaboration with recognised institutions, we are also exploring the option of local production of the vaccines in country.
“I advise all citizens to disregard these claims as they are criminal. There are procedures for vaccine acquisition and use which include appropriate regulation and certification by National Agency for Food Drugs and Administration Control (NAFDAC). I advise against fake vaccines, as there is no vaccine approved for use in the country and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), is the only authorised vaccine administrator in Nigeria.”
Osagie said the number of new COVID-19 cases had continued to rise in Nigeria, such that 10,300 confirmed cases were reported from just 50,750 samples tested in one week, translating to 20 per cent positivity rate.
“It means one out of every five persons tested in the last one week turned out positive compared to the previous week which recorded a positivity rate of 14 per cent. Nigeria’s total number of confirmed cases is 110,387 of a total of 1,172,234 samples tested, with a cumulative positivity rate of 9.4 per cent 1,444 cases were recorded in the past 24 hours, with sadly 77 deaths in the past week and total fatality of 1,435. It is instructive of the 2nd wave that all cases recorded so far this January is more than 20 per cent of all confirmed cases in Nigeria, more than the whole of December, barely halfway through the month. There is no question that we are deeply into the second wave of the pandemic which requires that PTF and FMoH review our strategies to respond to the challenge.The Federal Ministry of Health has outlined three approaches to confront the pandemic: infection mitigation, therapeutics and vaccines.”
Do everything possible to avoid second lockdown, PTF begs Nigerians
Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 (PTF) has appealed to Nigerians to do everything possible to avoid the government ordering a second lockdown saying the pandemic was raging.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, said this at a media briefing, appealing that all tiers of government and citizens must keep their hands-on-deck.
“We are in a difficult situation in which a balance must continue to be struck between lives and livelihood. We are considering all options while hoping that broad cooperation will be received. We must do everything possible to avoid a second lockdown in Nigeria. You will also recall that the PTF had informed you that the resumption of schools nationwide would be reviewed due to rising daily numbers of infections and the challenges of case management, especially the shortage of oxygen so that we do not allow our facilities to be overwhelmed. While we note that several states have proceeded with the resumption of schools, the PTF recommends strongly that very strict adherence to non-pharmaceutical interventions should be enforced by the states to avoid the escalation of cases. The PTF will continue to dialogue with the governors and the Federal Ministry of Education to closely monitor the situate,” he said.
Mustapha said the PTF had also authorised the NCDC to immediately implement the 450 tests per LGA plan, nationwide.
“We are aware that states are not on the same pedestal in the area of testing and we shall begin with states that are in the forefront of resourcing and infrastructure. The PTF wishes to emphasise the need for all segments of the society to get involved in the risk communication and community engagement. In our continued collaboration with the religious and traditional rulers, we align with the statements issued by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) guiding the sick and the elderly on the need to avoid large gathering by staying at home. We are optimistic that other institutions will follow suit as we progress.”