The Kogi State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Kingsley Fanwo, has said the state governor, Yahaya Bello, is ready to take delivery of the AstraZeneca/ Oxford COVID-19 vaccines given to the state though he had publicly questioned the existence of the virus.
He, however, said the state government will not force anyone to take a jab of the vaccine except for those who are willing.
Fanwo said, “The governor has said he will accept the vaccine in the state but he will not force anyone to take it. Anyone who may wish to take the vaccine can come forward and the person will be vaccinated but the governor will not enforce it.
“He had said it already that he will take delivery of the vaccine if they bring the vaccine to the state. We just don’t have any information about when the vaccine is coming in and in what quantity.”
Bello has consistently dismissed the existence of the virus in his state and also expressed reservations about the vaccine for the disease on numerous occasions.
In a viral video, Bello could be seen discouraging a jeering crowd of supporters from taking COVID-19 vaccine.
“They want to use the (COVID-19) vaccines to introduce the disease that will kill you and us. God forbid!” Bello had said.
He had recently said on a live television programme that there was nothing medically wrong with him, adding that he would not allow the people of his state to be used as “guinea pigs”.
Nigeria had on Tuesday received about four million doses of AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine shipped into the country through the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja.
Some health workers including the first Nigerian to receive the vaccine on the country’s soil, Cyprian Ngong of the National Hospital, Abuja, received shots of the vaccines when the exercise was flagged off by the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, in Abuja.
Also, President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo as well as some governors have received shots of the vaccines to dissipate vaccine hesitancy amongst Nigerians.
In his reaction to this, Bello said, “COVID-19 is not our business in Kogi State. We have more pertinent issues and more pertinent matters that we are attending to in Kogi State. Insecurity we met, we’ve tackled it and several others. Disunity we met on the ground and we have united Kogi State today not COVID-19.
“COVID-19 is just a minute aspect of what we are treating or handling in Kogi State; there have been outbreaks of Lassa Fever and Yellow Fever and those were handled without making a noise about it.
“The last Yellow Fever (outbreak), we vaccinated our people against Yellow Fever, we encouraged them, we educated them and they felt the impact…If the Federal Government is gracious enough and give us COVID-19 vaccines, we will equally sensitise our people, people who wish to come and take can come and take but I am not going to subject the people of Kogi State to vaccines or vaccination and I will not make them the guinea pigs.”
He added, “Mr President is the leader of this country. I respect him so high; 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 vaccines. There is nothing wrong with me, I am hale and hearty. I am 100 per cent healthy…I won’t take any vaccine.”