By Emma Njoku, Fred Ezeh, Abuja, Joe Effiong, Uyo, Desmond Mgboh, Kano, Tony John, Port Harcourt
Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State has cautioned Nigerians to beware of the COVID-19 vaccines, claiming that they were meant to kill people.
Governor Bello, who is aspiring to become Nigeria’s President by 2023, raised the alarm ahead of today’s meeting of all the 36 governors to decide on the commencement of the vaccination exercise across the country.
The Federal Government had said it was expecting, at least 100,000 doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech-approved COVID-19 vaccines to come in by the end of this month.
Executive director and Chief Executive Officer, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Faisal Shuaib, said President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo would receive the vaccines on live television, to encourage Nigerians to take the vaccines as a preventive measure against the dreaded virus.
Kayode Fayemi, chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, while addressing journalists in Abuja after meeting with President Buhari last week, said he and his colleagues would also take the vaccine on live television.
He said: “We, too, will like to demonstrate to our citizens that we believe that the vaccines would work.
“Don’t forget, we have a lot of experience on this. The Governors Forum managed the polio vaccines administration in the country and we have garnered a lot of experience.”
But speaking to a crowd of people in a video that has gone viral, governor Bello doubted the authenticity of the vaccines and insisted there is no cure for HIV and many other diseases troubling mankind.
He said: “Vaccines are being produced in less than one year of COVID-19. There is no vaccine yet for HIV, malaria, cancer, headache and for several other diseases that are killing us. They want to use the (COVID-19) vaccines to introduce the disease that will kill you and us. God forbid!
“We should draw our minds back to what happened in Kano during (sic) the Pfizer polio vaccines that crippled and killed our children. We have learned our lessons.
“If they say they are taking the vaccines in public, allow them to take their vaccines. Don’t say I said you should not take it, but if you want to take it, open your eyes before you take the vaccines.”
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has lamented the high cost of storing the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine being expected in Nigeria soon, even as it procures three Ultra Cold Chain (UCC) machines with storage capacity of 2, 100 litres for storage of the COVID-19 vaccines when they eventually arrive Nigeria.
The government said it’s considering the option of Oxford AstraZeneca or other COVID-19 vaccines that would be safely and easily stored using existing facilities being used to store vaccines used in routine immunisation.
Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Shaib Faisal, who disclosed the information to journalists after inspecting the newly installed UCC machines in Abuja, yesterday, said the task of procuring and installing UCC facility across strategic locations in Nigeria for the purpose of storing Pfizer BioNTech vaccine is huge and could cost Nigeria huge fortune.
“The 100, 000 doses of vaccine being expected in Nigeria will occupy a space of 500 litres out of the 2,100 litre capacity, meaning that the UCC facility will store over 400, 000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine when procured.
“But going forward, we would focus on COVID-19 vaccines that does not require UCC to store or keep potent and effective. We are considering the option of Oxford-AstraZeneca type of vaccine that requires lower degrees Celsius to store.
“However, if we would continue to bring in more Pfizer vaccines, then the providers would make arrangements for procurement of additional UCC that would be installed across strategic locations in Nigeria. It’s easier for us to move the kind of vaccines that we are used to because our health care workers are used to it. Our routine immunisation vaccines are stored at +2 to +8 degrees Celsius. We suggest that since our health workers are already used to that, we should consider vaccines that could be stored in such facilities.”
Nigeria to receive 100,000 doses of vaccines
The National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHDA) has said Nigeria is to receive 100, 000 doses of mRNA Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines to to combat the pandemic.
Director-General (D-G) of NPHDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, told newsmen at a media briefing in Abuja that the vaccines are expected between late January 2021 and early February 2021.
He said the agency was working in partnership with the Presidential Task Force Committee on COVID-19 and other health workers to ensure that the vaccines get to rural areas in the country upon its arrival.
He cautioned Nigerians not to express fear over the safety of lives as the agency would also work on modalities and in synergy with NAFDAC for the screening of the vaccines before they are administered.
“We are able to tap into innovative collaboration that exists with the private sectors so we can move them all the way through the states, local government areas and the health facilities where they will be utilised.The focus of deployment of the vaccines will be at the most affected areas in the country,” he said.
A’Ibom PDP chairman dies of virus, Commissioners, party chieftains in ICU
The state chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Akwa Ibom State chapter, Obong Udo Ekpenyong, is dead.
Ekpenyong, the first PDP state chairman from Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District of the state, is said to have died by 4am, yesterday, of health complications associated with the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic which has wreaked havoc in the state, sweeping away many prominent persons, including the former military governor of the state, Commodore Idongesit Nkanga (retd).
A source in the party, who confirmed the story on the condition of anonymity, pleaded for time for the bereaved family to come to terms with the untimely loss.
Ekpenyong, immediate past commissioner for local government and chieftaincy affairs in the state, was elected state chairman of the PDP on July 30, 2020, which the former deputy governor of Abia State, Mr Eric Nwakama, supervised.
His death brings to three the number of PDP state chairmen who have passed on since the party was formerly inaugurated in the state in 1999. The others were Chief Joe Ating and Chief Tony Emenyi.
His death also occurred barely three months after demise of the state chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr Ini Okopido.
The implication then is that the state chairmanship of both the PDP and APC in Akwa Ibom would, henceforth, be held in acting capacities by their deputy chairmen.
Daily Sun learned that many high profile citizens of the state, most of them PDP chieftains, serving and past commissioners, have been hit by the pandemic and are being held at the isolation centres in the state.
The state commissioner for information and strategy, Mr Ini Ememobong, while admonishing people at the NUJ annual thanksgiving on Sunday in Ikot Abasi, to take COVID-19 precautions, lamented that the pandemic had seriously dealt with state, by killing high net worth personalities.
Kano bans viewing, event centres, directs civil servants to stay at home, Rivers, too
Kano State Government has announced the imposition of a fresh ban on the activities of viewing and event centres across the state following increasing COVID-19 cases.
The state Commissioner for Information, Malam Muhammad Garba, who made the revelation in a statement, yesterday morning, said the measure was part of decision at a stakeholders meeting, held at the Africa House, Kano, on Monday night.
He said that all civil servants in the state have also been directed to stay at home pending further instruction.
Malam Garba, however, explained that workers on essential services such as the healthcare service providers, fire service, water board, teaching staff, security guards and the media are exempted from the ban.
The commissioner reaffirmed government’s commitment to working with relevant stakeholders that included the Ulama to ensuring compliance with the COVID-19 Protocols.
He also warned that security agents, who were part of the stakeholders meeting, would not hesitate to take stern measures to ensure compliance with the directive.
Also, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has directed civil servants on salary Grade Levels 01 to 13, except those on essential duties, to stay away from duty, following the spike on COVID-19 pandemic in the state.
The stay-at-home directive arising from the second wave of Coronavirus pandemic, takes immediate effect from today.
Governor Wike’s directive was contained in a statement signed by the Head of Service of Rivers State, Rufus Godwin, yesterday.
He directed officers from Grade Levels 14 and above to be on duty and assume full responsibilities for their offices until further notice.
The governor charged permanent secretaries and Heads of Extra-ministerial offices to ensure compliance with the directive within the strict context of the COVID-19 protocols.