As Nigeria commences COVID-19 vaccination, Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi has insisted that his administration would not subject the state’s residents to it, as “they are not guinea pigs.”
Speaking during a Channels TV programme, Mr. Bello boasted of his health status and said he would never receive the vaccine because “he is hale and hearty,”
Subsequently, Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 flagged Kogi as a high-risk state over the governor’s doubt, the absence of testing facility and isolation centres.
“A state that is not testing at all is an absolute high risk for Nigerians to go there because there is no testing facility and even if you fall sick, there is no isolation centre, and they don’t even acknowledge that the disease exists. So for that reason, we put that state at the top of the high-risk states,” stated Mukhtar Muhammad, the National Incident Manager of the PTF.
However, Mr. Bello, on Friday, said the state had more serious issues to deal with, rather than COVID-19.
“COVID-19 is not our business in Kogi State. We are dealing with more serious issues in Kogi State, not COVID-19. COVID-19 is just the minutest aspect of what we are treating in Kogi State,” he said.
“There has been an outbreak of Lassa Fever, Yellow Fever and those were handled without making noise. On the last Yellow Fever outbreak, we vaccinated our people against it, we encouraged them, we educated them and they felt the impact because it ravaged some communities in Kogi State.
He, however, said that any residents who wish to be vaccinated were free to do so, if the federal government would provide vaccines, adding that his administration would sensitise them.
“They came up and we vaccinated them. So if the Federal Government is gracious enough to give us COVID-19 vaccines, we are only going to sensitise our people, whoever wishes to come and take should come forward and take the vaccination,” just as he noted that “I am not going to subject the people of Kogi State to vaccination. I will not make them the guinea pigs.”
Asked if he would join President Muhammadu Buhari in receiving the vaccine, Mr. Bello said “Mr. President is the leader of this country. I respect him so much. All of us respect him so much. We love him and he is leading by example. If he needs to take the vaccine and he takes it, it is a welcome development. As far as I am concerned. I, as a person, don’t need to take a vaccine. Nothing is wrong with me, I am hale, hearty, 100 percent healthy. I can give you my health report anytime you desire it.”
According to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the state currently has five of 158, 042 cases recorded across Nigeria, which officials attributed to the governor’s relentless frustration of testing for the rampaging virus.