Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Government has said that it did not request for the Madagascar herbal remedy for COVID-19 but that the Government of Madagascar had donated to African countries “in the spirit of African brotherly love”, sending the West African consignment to Guinea Bissau.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Mr Boss Mustapha, made the disclosure during Thursday’s PTF briefing while responding to a question on when the consignment from Madagascar would be expected in the country.
Mr Mustapha had said earlier in the week that President Muhammadu Buhari had ordered the airlift of the Madagascar herbal medicine for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 from Guinea Bissau where Nigeria’s portions were dispatched to for onward delivery to the country.
He had, however, added that the herbal remedy will be subjected to the normal regulatory processes before it can be administered for use in Nigeria.
“Nigeria did not ask for the Madagascar solution,” Mr Mustapha said at the briefing.
“The Madagascar government decided to airlift quantities meant for African countries. That of West Africa was taken to Guinea Bissau so all the members of ECOWAS have their commodities offloaded in Guinea Bissau, and that was the one I referred to that we were making arrangements to evacuate.
“But the impression out there is as if we abandoned homegrown solution and we were looking for Madagascar solution. We didn’t ask for it, but it was taken in the spirit of African brotherly love to Guinea Bissau and we’ve asked our ambassador there to establish the location, the quantity, and he has done that.
“We have to make arrangements for its freighting out of Guinea Bissau, but there are no flights. So there are so many things we have to consider. If we are freighting it through air cargo, that has its process. So can you please help us explain it to Nigerians that Nigeria did not ask for it. It was brought for West African countries, similarly for other parts of Africa.
“The consignment meant for West Africa was dropped in Guinea Bissau and every ECOWAS member nation has been asked to go to Guinea Bissau and pick. It’s not our priority now, it’s not our focus, there are other things that we are dealing with to make sure that we contain the spread in our nation.
“We’ll do that, but that does not in any way downplay what we’ve asked our researchers and scientists to do. In the last one or more week, I have consistently made this appeal, and for those that are in the field of development in medicine and different inventions, they know the protocol. I can tell you that I get letters on a daily basis telling me that ‘I have this invention’.”
An exasperated Mustapha, speaking on home grown solutions for COVID-19, advised those with a cure to go through authoritised channels to get certified.
“If you think you have a ‘cure’ for COVID-19, go to the institutions set up by government to do this, NAFDAC. Do not bring it to the Task Force,” he said. “It is not our job or responsibility to validate these things.
“That is not the protocol, the protocol is to submit these things to the appropriate organisation that has the responsibility, that is established by government through an Act of Parliament, for it to go through the processes of validation. It is not the responsibility of the Task Force to validate these things.
“So, my appeal to out scientists and our researchers: don’t bother sending them to the Task Force. Send them to the institutions that have been set up by government to do their job and we know the institutions. NAFDAC is there, it’s a body recognised and acknowledged all over the world. Not only for homegrown cures, anything you want to bring into this country, be it food or drugs, you must subject it to the validation process of NAFDAC and that’s why all items carry NAFDAC number.”