By Adewale Sanyaolu
As the inoculation of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine continues across the country, the National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates Confraternity) has warned against the hijack of the vaccination exercise to avoid a disastrous outing.
NAS Capoon Mr Abiola Owoaje, in a statement on behalf of the group titled “COVID-19 Vaccination: Averting a Disastrous Exercise”, urged the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) to stick to its phased plan for the inoculation exercise.
‘We implore the NPHCDA to resist any pressure to jettison this laudable plan by ensuring fairness and transparency in the inoculation exercise. The safety and health of Nigerians should be the overriding interest to guide the exercise. The ugly incident of hoarding of COVID-19 palliatives which were denied the vulnerable segment of the society and the hijack of medical kits donated by the billionaire, Jack Ma, by some political interests must not repeat itself,’ he said.
Owoaje while calling on NPHCDA to ensure its website works efficiently to ease the smooth registration of Nigerians advocated for multi-sectoral collaboration between federal government agencies and the 36 states governments for a coordinated action to achieve a hitch-free inoculation exercise.
According to the him the recent busting of a fake COVID-19 vaccine distribution centre in China and South Africa by International Police Organisation (INTERPOL) couple with the alarm that there may be more centres across the globe is a wake- up call for the federal government to put necessary structures in place and place all relevant security and regulatory agencies on alert to prevent fake vaccines from being imported into the country.
Owoaje who challenged the political class and the NPHCDA to step up its awareness campaign on the safety and efficacy of the vaccine added that the arrival of the vaccine should not be enough reason to jettison existing public health measures meant to control the spread of the virus.
‘It is a welcome development that within a 24 hour period, 2.3 million Nigerians were reported to have registered through the NPHCDA online registration, proof of growing enthusiasm among Nigerians. But we would need to add that there are still a vast majority of Nigerians that do not believe in the existence of the virus or fully trust the efficacy of the vaccine and therefore, hesitancy in vaccination is still a veritable obstacle to whatever efforts that have been deployed. The political class should denounce and call to order some of its members who are out to trivialize the existence of the virus and the vaccine rollout. NPHCDA should not relent in its communication campaign and should vigorously enlist the support of traditional rulers, state actors, non-governmental organisations and other online and offline influencers to convince Nigerians about the proven safety and efficacy of the vaccine,’ Owoaje stated