Mohammed Aminu in Sokoto
Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, saturday advocated a stiff sanction against erring political and traditional leaders in the ongoing vaccination programme against meningitis and other child killer diseases in the state.
The monarch made the remark at a stakeholdersâ€™ meeting with commissioners, district heads and donor agencies on routine immunisation held in Sokoto at the weekend.
He attributed the poor immunisation coverage in Sokoto to lackadaisical attitude of some traditional leaders and also sabotage on the part of officials saddled with the routine immunisation exercise in local government areas.
The monarch decried that people were not responding to immunisation because their leaders were not doing what they were supposed to do or some people were benefiting from the problem.
The Sultan blamed lack of honesty and diversion of funds by council officials as responsible for the myriad of challenges bedeviling the immunisation exercise in the state.
He warned that any district head found sabotaging such efforts would be suspended and dealt with in accordance with the law.
â€œAny erring traditional leader found wanting in the immunisation exercise may be sanctioned and even suspended pending the outcome of the investigation and this can take a year or more. This problem was caused by dishonesty and lack of trust. If we are not honest in our dealings we will not be able to tackle our problems,â€ he said
In a remark, Governor Aminu Tambuwal said the meeting was called to review the challenges associated with the routine immunisation in the state.
He wondered why the people of the state were not responding to immunisation exercise despite the fact that the vaccines are free and could be found virtually in any health facility in addition to house-to-house immunisation exercise.
Tambuwal stated that the aim of the meeting was to identify problems associated with routine immunisation in the state. “I want you to tell us the truth, don’t hide anything as doing that will amount to a great disservice to our communities,” he stated.
He also directed that Islamic scholars should be invited in the next meeting because some households still hold a wrong notion about immunisation.
The state Deputy Governor, Alhaji Ahmed Aliyu, lamented that the funds were not being utilised at the local government levels but diverted by officials.
Aliyu noted that some of the Community Mobilisers were not up and doing, adding that not responding to routine immunisation could lead to epidemic in the state. He however, advised that traditional rulers should be actively involved in managing the funds to check the ugly trend.
Also speaking, the UNICEF Chief of Field, Sokoto Zonal Office, Mr. Muhideen Muhammad, said the state is in the third position in the ranking states that recorded the highest number of deaths in the recent outbreak of meningitis.