From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Government blamed the delay in the arrival of the first batch of 100,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on “politics and logistics due to no fault of Nigeria.”
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who made the disclosure in Abuja, yesterday, said every needed infrastructure for the vaccine’s storage had been put in place because the government considers the issue a serious one.
Speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the minister said: “The fact that these vaccines will now come in February is not due to Nigeria’s fault. We are very ready to receive the 100,00 doses and we have the infrastructure, even when it is going to be preserved at about -70 Degree Celsius.”
The minister said the ultra-cold freezers to store the Pfizer vaccine candidate doses upon their arrival in the country had already been acquired before the companies said it had to wait till February.
Mohammed, a member of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, said government had also accessed the African Union (AU) and other international agencies for vaccines.
He assured that in the next two years, they would be able to vaccinate about 70 per cent of the population.
The minister underscored the need for sustained advocacy campaign against the position of some people who had bad-mouthed the vaccines that it had a lot of resistance.
Regulation law’ll curb virus spread – NMA
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), yesterday, said that the COVID-19 Health Protection Regulation 2021 law would help to curb the spread of the pandemic across the country.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on January 28, signed COVID-19 Health Protection Regulations 2021, in exercise of the powers conferred on him by Section 4 of the Quarantine Act, 2010.
NMA President, Prof. Innocent Ujah, said that the move by the President to ensure an enabling legal framework is in place was a welcome development as it would help in contributing to national response to the curtailment of COVID-19.
“Now that the president has put a law in place, we should comply by adhering strictly to the law,” he said.
Ujah, who expressed worry over the level of compliance among the citizenry on COVID-19 protocols, called on the law enforcement agents to arrest any erring Nigerian.
“Unfortunately, the most disturbing aspect I see is enforcement; it is going to be a problem, because Nigerians don’t like obeying laws. But if we can ensure that the law is fully obeyed, the spread of the pandemic will reduce,’’ he said.
Ujah said that the law would also help to reduce the number of people violating the COVID-19 protocols in the country.
He, however, urged the Federal Government to embrace the use of intentional form of communication through persuasion, advocacy and sensitisation largely from the National Orientation Agency.
Wear face masks or risk lockdown
The Presidency has warned Nigerians to adhere strictly to the COVID-19 protocol of wearing masks or risk another lockdown.
It has also advised them to ignore baseless conspiracy theories that seek to deny the reality of the pandemic by complying with the order to wear masks.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in a statement said: “The Presidency is worried by reports of non-compliance with just signed Executive Order that makes mask wearing and observation of social distancing in the public mandatory, appealing to Nigerians to give their maximum cooperation for success of the policy.”
“President Muhammadu Buhari introduced the order with the best of intentions and not with any motive to punish citizens.The Presidency appeals to state governments, traditional rulers and religious leaders to play active roles in the sensitisation and enforcement of the Executive Order.
“To achieve this, COVID-19 task forces and committees should persuade members of the public to cooperate with the government in achieving compliance and avoid crude methods that may create resistance and resentment, thereby defeating the primary goal of the Executive Order. The Buhari administration is most reluctant to lockdown the country and continues to emphasise the non-pharmaceutical measures and the only way to avert lockdowns is to observe these measures as put in place by the Presidential Task Force. Nigerians have come a long way from the dreaded lockdown and the administration is unhappy about any prospects of bringing it back as many citizens will not have food on the table without venturing out on a day- to-day business.”
Donation of PPE against COVID-19 to NIMC staff shows paucity of strategic thinking – HURIWA
The Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy has been accused of not considering the health of Nigerians, and particularly that of the telephone subscribers and staff of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMS), by forcing Nigerians to continue to troop out en-masse in search of the National Identification Number (NIN) or lose ownership of their telephone lines.
HURIWA regretted that the Communications and Digital Economy Minister, Ibrahim Patami by only just ‘donating’ some Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to staff of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), has demonstrated overwhelming lack of sensitivity and responsibility in the discharge of his official duties, but has put his inexplicable agendum above that of the public good.
HURIWA said the PPE were reportedly donated to NIMC staff members for their safety and applicants in the fight against COVID-19 just as Mr. Kayode Adegoke, NIMC Head of Corporate Communications disclosed this in a statement on Saturday and glibly explained that the donation was in line with Pantami’s resolve to ensure smooth enrolment of National Identity Number (NIN).
However, the rights group said the Federal Government by sticking to the ill advised deadline for the enrolment by millions of telephone subscribers in Nigeria to obtain the National Identity Card numbers so as to synchronise with their telephone lines even amidst the extraordinary surge in the infection rate of COVID-19 and the fact that nearly a month since after the registration for NIN started, the minister of Communications and Digital Economy has only just distributed to the frontline staff doing the registration with the Personal protection equipment after the staff union threatened to embark on strike shows that government officials essentially implement decisions without thinking through those decisions or listen to the heartbeat of Nigerians.
“This Federal Government has exposed millions of Nigerians to the threats of COVID-19 infections and we are sure there may be series of litigation for damages that may be filed by Nigerians who may seek for payment of damages for the unmitigated risks that they were exposed to by the Federal government in carrying out the order to get enrolled in the National Identity database as a prerequisite for the continuous use of their telephone lines.”