Deji Elumoye in Abuja
Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), Dr Kayode Fayemi, on Friday revealed that the 36 states governors as well as prominent Pastors and Imams will join both President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to take COVID-19 vaccines in public.
Fayemi, who is Governor of Ekiti state, made this disclosure after a closed-door meeting with Buhari at the State House, also stated that the President was more determined this year to address security challenges facing the nation.
He stressed that the state governors had resolved to take the COVID-19 vaccines publicly as part of their belief that the vaccines will work.
His words: “We 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. Governors Forum managed the polio vaccines administration in the country and we have garnered a lot of experience. We have worked with the Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Federal Ministry of Health and will be happy to work with NCDC, PTF, the primary healthcare development agency on this as well. So, we would take a lead as well in our various states”.
Fayemi also talked about Buhari supporting the idea of using society influencers like top clerics, leading musicians and sport personalities.
“You know there are cultural and religious concerns in various parts and we are at the state level, we are reviewing that with all of our colleagues.
But the good thing is, Mr. President has agreed with me that he would convey to the PTF the necessity of using other influencers, maybe the Chief Imams, the Bishops, top musicians, our sports personalities. Because, the more of such people are seen taking the vaccines the more the likelihood of resistance will break down in our various localities. So, we discussed that”
He added that the Governors Forum will work out the modalities for funding the vaccines with the relevant government agencies including the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.
“The details of the financial management of the vaccine of course is something that would be of interest to all the states. But we also know that there are a range of approaches to take, the health approach is there. Because, for us at the Governors Forum it is not just a health issue, it is also a security issue and it is an economic issue too. We would work in partnership, we are involved with PTF, we have a representation at the PTF and we will work with them generally on them”.
The NGF Chairman further explained that the need to locally produce the vaccines were discussed and there is hope that a multinational drug firm based in Nigeria will soon commence production.
Said he: “Of course, procurement of vaccines we also discussed. Our view is that ultimately, we really need to ramp up manufacturing of vaccines locally. It’s okay that COVAX that Nigeria is part of is going to be delivering some vaccines to us. As we understand, the first 100,000 and then 43 million and ultimately 165 million doses. But, there is nothing as good as having the ability to manufacture our own vaccines locally.
And we understand that there is a partnership with May & Baker, which is important for the Federal Government to really accelerate, so that we can produce the vaccines here in Nigeria and not be dependent on what is coming from other parts.
The federal government is already part of the WHO-GAVI Alliance-COVAX partnership and from what we understand from the PTF, vaccines will come from that alliance. Some of it from Pfizer in the first instance and then maybe from other various producers of the vaccines later. But there is no clarity as yet as to when these vaccines will arrive Nigeria.
“So, one of the issues raised with Mr. President is the need to accelerate the delivery of vaccines to the country, so that it will be available to our people. Those of us at the receiving end in the states, know that this is an issue we also need to ramp up our own preparedness, in terms of getting our states ready for vaccines storage particularly, the freezers and cold chains that will be required for that process.
We need to get ourselves ready at the state level. The federal government can procure but we will receive and administer in our various states and there is a lot of work to be done in that respect”.
Fayemi also commented on the security situation saying the President has given an assurance to step up efforts to address the situation in the new year.
His words: “I won’t go into the nitty gritty of what Mr. President told me on security. But, he said clearly that help is on the way. Mr. President is very determined that this year will see a rapid reduction in the free access that bandits, kidnappers, criminals have had in the country. I believe there is a whole range of strategies that he is putting in place in order to address that.
“I have also expressed to him the commitment of governors to step up to the plate, both in terms of providing support for our security agencies and also sensitizing our population as well as address the root causes of some of these crimes in our states.
“So, it’s a partnership. He is our Commander-in-Chief, we are his field commanders and insecurity is ravaging the land collectively. So we all have do do whatever we can to reduce it and to work in collaboration with the Federal Government”.