The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) has distanced itself from the controversial comments from Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, discouraging Nigerians from taking COVID-19 vaccines.
Governor Bello had in a viral video condemned the use of the vaccine, saying it is meant to kill people.
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The governor had earlier in his New Year broadcast said Kogi will not respond to the second wave of the virus with “mass hysteria”.
A communique issued at the end of the 24th teleconference meeting on Wednesday by the NGF Chairman and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, but released on Thursday said the governors would not only continue to be informed and guided by science but also ensure that every decision was not compromised by conflicts of interest.
“On the ill-fated pronouncement made by a member of the Forum regarding the Covid-19 vaccine in a national daily, the Forum totally and categorically dissociated itself from the statement, emphasizing that the Forum will continue to be informed and guided by science and will ensure that every decision it takes retains public and professional trust and is not compromised by conflicts of interest,” the communique partly read.
The Forum set up a team of experts led by Professor Oyewale Tomori to advise State governors on the procurement and administration of coronavirus vaccines in the country.
The NGF Chairman had briefed State governors on a meeting with Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Chair of the Board of Gavi, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, on the rollout of the COVAX facility which is a global risk-sharing mechanism co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to facilitate pooled procurement and the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines across developing countries.
The communiqué recalled that Nigeria is among 12 countries in Africa that had indicated readiness of the 92 qualified countries for the facility and will by end of February 2021 receive its first shipment of vaccines.
The governors also committed to increasing budgetary allocation to the water sector to boost hygiene and supporting the development of the Nigeria Agenda 2050 and the Medium-Term National Development Plan (MTNDP).
“The Forum received a presentation from the Minister of Water Resources, Engineer Suleiman Hussein Adamu and the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, on the Sustainable Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (SUWASH) results-based financing programme for States.
“The programme has become necessary given the state of the sector which has contributed to 73% of Nigeria’s total burden of enteric infections and over 255,000 preventable deaths in the country each year.
“State governors consequently committed to increasing budgetary allocation to the sector with the collaboration of the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning and the World Bank through the US$640 million investment finance and US$60 million technical assistance component which together will support and incentivize infrastructure investments and strengthen government policies and institutions in the WASH sector.
“A presentation was made by Dr. Sarah Alade, Special Adviser to the President on Finance and Economy, on the development of the Nigeria Agenda 2050 and the Medium-Term National Development Plan (MTNDP) which will succeed Vision 20:2020 and the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017 – 2020.
“State Governors committed to supporting the development of the national plan by providing technical inputs which will ensure that the plan is inclusive, comprehensive, and reflective of the component development plans of each State in the country.
“State submissions will be made by 10th February 2021, and will underpin the use of credible data, social development, and economic diversification,” the communiqué added.
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