Health Minister reveals why Kogi is yet to get COVID-19 vaccine

Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora, the Minister of State for Health, has explained why Kogi State has yet to get the Covid-19 vaccine.

Speaking to a correspondent on Friday, Mamora said the states could not be forced to receive the vaccines because there must be vaccine accountability.

The Minister, however, said the vaccines would be handed over to Kogi State once the state meets the conditions set by the NPHCDA.

According to him, “There are parameters for supplying vaccines to the states. Parameters such as cold storage facility, which is the first; the second is the logistics in terms of personnel and transportation; and the third is security.”

The minister further stated that the Executive Director of the NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, had met with Governor Yahaya Bello on the need to repair the facilities where the vaccines would be kept in order to prevent waste.

“The ED NPHCDA visited the governor. Their cold store facility was destroyed during the #EndSARS protests. The agreement is that once they are fixed, they will get the vaccines; the governor will give the vaccines to the citizens in the states that are interested.

“The understanding is that he will not take because he is not interested but he will encourage those who are interested to take. No problem because we cannot compel anyone to take.”

The two main conditions given to states are: “add security fortification to the state and local government cold stores to avoid theft of vaccines and devices; and repair cold chain equipment and cold room vandalised during #EndSARS protests.’’

Prof. Oyewale Tomori, who is an Eminent virologist and Chairman, Expert Review Committee on COVID-19, told our correspondent on Friday that the Federal Government could not force any state in the country to accept vaccines.

The virologist recalled that when Kano State resisted polio vaccination in the early 2000s, the Federal Government had no choice but to stop the deployment of vaccines in the states.

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“Secondary and primary health care are under the state and not federal (government). If you remember the Kano crisis when we were doing polio vaccination, the state government said they didn’t want it in the state because they had the control over it. All the federal government can do is to persuade. They can’t override because the state is acting within its own right. So, the Federal Government can only persuade,” Tomori said.

He also stated that the argument that Kogi State had no cold storage facility was flawed.

The virologist said there was no way all of Kogi’s facilities would have been destroyed during the #EndSARS protests.

“Is it only the state headquarters that has a central cold store? Aren’t there others at the local government level? In any case, even if you bring it to the state level, you still have to distribute it to the local government level, so why are they not using that?” Tomori asked.

He also urged Kogi residents to rise up and demand that the government does the needful instead of keeping quiet.

“We have a role to play. If you feel your government is not doing the right thing, you have the right to complain. So, why are the Kogi people keeping quiet? Yes, you voted him to govern you and if you feel he is not doing well, you let him know. But people are keeping quiet in Kogi when they should get up and tell their governor they want the vaccines.

“I have not heard any Kogi person saying he disagrees with the governor. So, don’t blame the Federal Government” Tomori said.

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Over 4.4 million residents of Kogi State including the elderly and persons with co-morbidities have been left behind in the COVID-19 vaccination programme due to the failure of the state government to meet the conditions put in place by the Federal Government.

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