From Tony Osauzo, Benin
Edo State government and the Organised Labour are on a collision course following the decision by the government to deny civil servants and other people who could not present proof of vaccination access into the Secretariat as it began enforcement of restrictions on large public gatherings for persons without evidence of COVID-19 vaccination.
The enforcement began by 7 am, yesterday, with the state Head of COVID-19 Enforcement Team, Mr. Yusuf Haruna, manning the main gate while others took charge of other entry points. Those who provided their vaccination cards were allowed entry while others who could not were told to go back home.
The monitoring team also scanned the cards to be sure they were genuine before allowing holders into the secretariat.
Some civil servants who not carry their cards with them said they were taken by surprise while those who had it in their offices had to send their colleagues to bring them to the gate before they were allowed in.
Some workers who refused to go home despite being refused entry, were seen loitering around the perimeter fence discussing the action and it effects.
“I didn’t know that the order will take effect as I have not had electricity in my house for over one week. I have been vaccinated and I will be back with my card tomorrow,” one of them said.
On how government would be able to sustain the action, Haruna stated: “What is important is that where there is a will, there is a way. Governor Godwin Obaseki has demonstrated that the state wants to save lives by dishing out this directive. We expect little hitches at the takeoff but there will be improvement as we move on. I am also sure that the people will also want to see if government is serious about the directive. And with what we started today (Wednesday), we are demonstrating that the government is ready to save lives in the state.
“I am sure that those who did not come with their vaccination cards today (Wednesday) and were sent back home to bring them will not do similar mistake tomorrow. It is clear that many of the workers have taken the vaccine but they are yet to get use to the practice of going about with their cards.
“With the media giving what we are doing here the necessary publicity, people will know the need to comply with the directive”, he added.
The state chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Sunny Osayande, while reacting to Government action, said he has directed the vice chairman and the secretary to meet with the Secretary to Edo State Government (SSG).
“The SSG said it is a directive from the governor that anybody that hasn’t been vaccinated can work from home and will not be sacked. There will be a Congress on Friday and we will take decisions on the way forward…I will encourage workers to go and vaccinate and will not be forced.
His Trade Union Congress (TUC) counterpart, Marshall Orhue, said to be vaccinated is a good thing but it is also a personal decision.
“It is nice to be vaccinated but it is not enough to lock workers out because it is a personal issue; they have the right to say they will take or will not.
“Looking at it from that angle, we are planning to meet with government immediately because before this decision was taken, we were not put into cognizance. We are also trying to see how we will see the government to resolve the issues and also relate with government that it is a personal issue to take the vaccine. Every right thinking person know that it is for the good of the people but government should not force anybody to take it,” Orhue said.
•Edo records 1 death, 63 new cases within 24 hours
The government has confirmed the death of a 60-year-old male admitted into the Stella Obasanjo Hospital of COVID-19 and whose vaccination status could not be ascertained as at the time of his death.
Head of the state’s Coronavirus Case Management, Dr Ebomwonyi Osagie, at the daily press briefing on the pandemic, said the state recorded a total number of 63 new cases of the virus, one death and 54 patients were discharged within the last 24 hours.
“So far, a total of 342 samples were collected, we have 286 people in home care and 267 discharged since the outbreak of the third wave of the pandemic.
“For now, we have a total of 1,098 confirmed cases, 547 active cases and 13,388 samples were collected so far in this third wave.Across our facilities, we have 40 patients on admission, 114 discharged and we have now lost 54 patients to the third wave.”
•Obaseki tasks scientists on local manufacturing of vaccines
Meanwhile, Governor Godwin Obaseki has said the development of vaccines by Nigerian scientists would enhance its acceptance by Nigerians. He noted that the hesitancy being recorded in the rollout of COVID-19 vaccination exercise may be linked to lack of local input in the manufacturing processes.
Obaseki, who was represented by his deputy, Philip Shaibu, said this while addressing the Minister of State for Science, Technology and Innovation, Mr. Mohammed Abdullahi, who was on a courtesy visit to the Government House, Benin City, the Edo State Capital.
“Science cannot be overlooked. Today, we are finding it difficult advocating, educating and appealing to our citizen to take the vaccines because they were not made in Nigeria. If we have a system in place to manufacture the vaccines in Nigeria, I doubt that the level of enforcement that we are putting in place to curb hesitancy will be this strong.
“When our sons and brothers are the ones in the laboratories manufacturing the vaccines, there is going to be an attachment and belief that what they are doing is for the interest of their kinsmen.”