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Govs Move to Take Over COVID-19 Vaccines’ Distribution, Meet Wednesday
•Say experience of polio eradication will be useful
•Urge Buhari to persuade traditional rulers to back vaccination
Chuks Okocha in Abuja
Following concerns over the opaqueness of the recent allocation of expected 100,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to states by the federal government, governors of the 36 states of the federation are making moves to take over the distribution of the life saving substance, THISDAY gathered yesterday.
The allocation made by the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) has come under severe attacks by stakeholders that wondered about the formulae for the exercise as the allotment was disproportionate between the non-prevalent and prevalent states.
Subsequently, the state governors plan to meet on Wednesday to deliberate and take a position on the allocation by NPHCDA, a reliable source told THISDAY.
The governors, under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), are also optimistic that with the experience gathered by the states in polio eradication, they can effectively handle the distribution and vaccination of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The NPHCDA, at a webinar conference last week, had released the sharing formula for the 100,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
According to the data shared by NPHCDA, the distribution breakdown is as follows: Kano, 3,557; Lagos, 3,131; Katsina, 2,361; Kaduna, 2,074; Bauchi, 1,900; Oyo, 1,848; Rivers, 1,766; Jigawa, 1,712; Niger, 1,558; Ogun, 1,473; Sokoto, 1,468; Benue, 1,423; Borno, 1,416; Anambra, 1,379; Kebbi, 1,268; Zamfara, 1,336; Delta, 1,306; Imo, 1,267; Ondo, 1,228; and Akwa Ibom, 1,161.
Others are Adamawa, 1,129; Edo, 1,104; Plateau, 1,089; Enugu, 1,088; Osun, 1,032; Kogi, 1,030; Cross River, 1,023; Abia, 955; Gombe, 908; Yobe, 842; Ekiti, 830; Taraba, 830; Kwara, 815; Ebonyi, 747; Bayelsa, 589; FCT, 695 and Nasarawa, 661.
However, while all the states had reportedly said they were not involved in deciding the sharing formula for the 100,000 vaccine doses, others said they planned to buy more.
THISDAY gathered that some of the governors were not carried along on the criteria used in the allocation of the vaccines to the states.
But speaking exclusively to THISDAY yesterday, the Chairman of the NGF, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who is also the governor of Ekiti State, confirmed that the governors would meet on Wednesday on the matter.
He said the main item on the agenda of the governors meeting next week would be the COVID-19 vaccine distribution.
He said: “The governors don’t run the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on the COVID-19 and, therefore, we cannot say the criteria reached or used in the distribution of the vaccines.
“The governors see the COVID-19 as a challenge and will work with all stakeholders to address and contain the pandemic. “Experience of the efforts of the state governments in the eradication of the polio epidemic, through the use of the vaccines, is on our side. This is because of our roots in rural areas. The states are directly in contact with the rural areas.”
However, he said he learnt that the NPHCDA’s 100,000 vaccines would be for the health workers and the elderly persons, stressing that the vaccines will cater for only 50,000 persons since it is to be taken twice.
Fayemi explained that the main vaccines of over 20 million doses would be coming from the GAVI Foundation.
Gavi is an international organisation created in 2000 to improve access to new and underused vaccines for children and other concerned persons.
According to him, the primary concern of the governors at the moment is to contain the current demarketing strategies by Nigerians against the vaccines.
He said at the governors’ last meeting with Buhari, they stressed the need to create public awareness on how to contain the rising risk of the pandemic.
“We told the president that there is the need to go beyond political leadership and include traditional rulers, religious leaders and others in the entertainment sector and others concerned to spread the awareness and importance of the vaccines,” Fayemi said, adding: “With this, we can create the needed and necessary enlightenment and raise the level of consciousness against the pandemic.”
A source at the NGF also told THISDAY that some of the states had called the forum’s secretariat to inquire whether there were special criteria submitted that enabled the NPHCDA to arrive at how the vaccines would be distributed.
The source said the governors are canvassing that more priorities be given to states regarded as frontline states where the pandemic is said to be rampant.
It was gathered that some states are already making plans to purchase the vaccines, but there is the problem of storage as there are special storage facilities like the availability of refrigerators and electricity in the rural areas for the storage of the vaccines.
States like Ogun, Oyo, and Cross River States had reportedly faulted the number of COVID-19 doses allocated to them by the federal government.
It was gathered that the Benue State government said the allocation of COVID-19 vaccine doses ought to have been discussed at the governors’ forum.