By Chuks Okocha
As Nigerians expect the outcome of the meeting of the governors of the 36 states of the federation on the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, the secretariat of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum has told Governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, who claimed that the vaccines is meant to kill the people, that the pandemic is real and must be tackled.
The forum’s Director-General, Mr. Asishana Okauru, told THISDAY yesterday that the governors are, therefore, considering various strategies to counter demarketing of the vaccines through public enlightenment.
The chairman of the forum, Dr. Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, had told THISDAY exclusively last week that the primary concern of the governors at the moment is to contain the hesitancy of Nigerians to the vaccines.
He said during the governors’ last meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari they made it clear to the President that there is the need to create public awareness on how to contain the rising risk of the pandemic.
According to Fayemi, “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.”
Bello, who has repeatedly disregarded COVID-19 protocol and denied the existence of the virus in his state, told a crowd to reject the vaccines because they are “meant to kill.”
According to the Kogi state governor, “Vaccines are being produced in less than one year of COVID-19. There is no vaccine yet for HIV, malaria, cancer, headache and for several other diseases that are killing us. They want to use the COVID-19 vaccines to introduce the disease that will kill you and us. God forbid.”
But Okauru when contacted by THISDAY, quoted the chairman of the governors forum as insisting that the pandemic is real and, therefore, Nigerians deserve the vaccine.
According to Okauru, “The position of the NGF was articulated in a previous comment by the NGF Chairman, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who said: ‘We follow science and the preponderance of evidence …COVID-19 is real.”
He further said that the pandemic is no respecter of any individual or persons as even as Fayemi had once been isolated because he was infected.
He listed other governors who had tested positive in the past to include Mr. Seyi Makinde (Oyo State), Senator Bala Mohammed (Bauchi State) and Malam Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna State).
Others are Chief Dave Umahi (Ebonyi State), Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia State), Senator Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta State) and Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) (Ondo State).
Fayemi had told THISDAY that the governors see the Covid-19 as a challenge and will work with all stakeholders to address and contain the pandemic.