The Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello, appears to have made good his threat to resist the rollout of the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination programme in the state, as the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on vaccine accountability and transparency has said that Kogi is the only out of the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory yet to receive the consignment of the COVID-19 Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccines.
The task force while briefing the National Economic Council (NEC) during its monthly meeting on Thursday said so far delivery of the vaccines has been completed in every state in the country except one, including the FCT.
The NEC urged Nigerians to ignore the various conspiracy theories and participate massively in the vaccination when their turn comes.
Making a presentation to Council, the NPHCDA Executive Director, Faisal Shuaib, said “all States, except Kogi have received their Vaccines.”
Kogi not guinea pigs
“Kogi State is yet to receive due to the non-repair of their Cold-Chain Store coupled with the State’s concerns around the contradictory information about the vaccines,” Shuaib said.
At the onset of the nationwide vaccination exercise, the Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello, made a public declaration that he would neither take the COVID-19 vaccine nor allow its distribution in the state, as he would not allow the people of the state to be used as guinea pigs.
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic early last year, Bello has never disguised his unbelief in the spread of the virus as a political scam by the government to deceive the people.
“Mr President is the leader of this country. I respect him and hold him so highly. All of us respect him so much. We love and he is leading by example. If he needs to take the vaccine, and he takes it, it’s a welcome development.
“As far as I am concerned, I, as a person, don’t need to take the vaccine. Nothing is wrong with me. I am hale, hearty 100 percent healthy. I can give you a health report at any time you desire. I won’t take any vaccine. COVID-19 is not our business in Kogi State. There are more prominent issues, or more pertinent issues and more serious matters that we are attending to on Kogi State.
“If the federal government is gracious enough and gave us COVID-19 vaccines, we are equally going to sensitize our people. Whoever wishes to come and take should come and take. But, I am not going to subject the people of Kogi State to vaccination or I will not make them the guinea pigs,” he was widely quoted to have said.
Briefing on vaccine rollout
Briefing the Council on the progress so far on the vaccination exercise, Shuaib said the vaccination application has been launched in most States’ Treatment Centres even against distractions and criticism of the government’s efforts to ensure the availability of vaccines nationwide.
“The roll-out of the vaccines across Healthcare Front-line Workers and other Health Support Staff was scheduled to commence by March 15, 2021, in some States, with the intention of wider coverage after the training of the States’ Health workers across the board.”
To ensure accountability in the distribution of the vaccines, Shuaib informed NEC that “the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) had been co-opted to support the PTF on Vaccine Accountability to ensure the safekeeping of the vaccines.”
He said there was a need for tight security around the Vaccines in the States to avoid being vandalized by hoodlums.
Also, the task force announced the commencement of the weekly record of a dashboard showing level and efficacy of the inoculation by the end of Monday, March 15, 2021.”
Shuaib also assured that the second tranche of the vaccines would be received in the country before the second dose of the vaccines intake was concluded.
Council also received an update from the National Economic Council (NEC) ad hoc committee interfacing with the presidential task force on COVID 19 to ease the lockdown of the economy by the Chairman of the Committee, Ifeanyi Okowa, Governor Delta State, and the Director-General of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Chikwe Ihekweazu.
Meanwhile, NEC welcomed the integration of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to support the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on vaccine accountability and transparency.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who chaired the meeting commended the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) for smooth coordination of the nation-wide distribution of the vaccines.
State Governors, FCT Minister, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, other ministers, and heads of government agencies and parastatals, participated in the virtual meeting.
Briefing by Communications and Digital Economy minister
On the implementation of broadband access in the country, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Ali Isa Pantami sought the support of NEC in the formulation and implementation of policies that will ease broadband penetration in Nigeria.
“All States should support us by adhering to the N145 Right-of-Way (ROW) charge per linear meter. The long-term benefits are far more than the initial fees being collected.”
Before the NEC consensus to peg the ROW charge at N145, there were instances the fees varied between N5000 and N10,000.
“We need a Point of Contact in each State as the interface on broadband and digital economy issues, and each State is also encouraged to have an institution or department to handle requests regarding broadband and the digital economy”, the minister said.
Highlighting some of the benefits derivable in increasing broadband access in the country, the minister said “the World Economic Forum predicts that over 60% of global GDP will be digitized by 2022 and that within the next decade, digital platforms will be used to create close to 70% of new value.”
“The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector recorded the highest growth rate of all the sectors of the Nigerian economy in both the fourth quarter of 2020 (Q4 2020) and the entire year 2020. This was based on the Q4 2020 Report on Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) released,” Pantami added
On the achievements in the ICT sector, the Minister told the NEC “the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector recorded the highest growth rate of all the sectors of the Nigerian economy in both the fourth quarter of 2020 (Q4 2020) and the entire year 2020.
This, he said, was based on the Q4 2020 Report on Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).”
Ease of Doing Business Survey
On the Ease of Doing Business, the Council received from the Special Adviser to the President on Ease of Doing Business, Jumoke Oduwole a presentation by the Sub National Environment Survey.
Oduwole identified for Council’s consideration and approval the key opportunities in the Subnational Baseline Environment Survey for improving the business climate across the States of the Federation.
She informed Council of the readiness of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) Secretariat to support State governments in the development of their respective State Reform Action Plans, with a recommendation that the specific findings of the survey report for each State be reflected in the Action Plans.
National Monitoring And Evaluation (M&E) Policy
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed presented to Council a memorandum for consideration and endorsement of the National Monitoring and Evaluation M&E Policy.
Ahmed said the memo was seeking the consideration and endorsement of the Council for the approval of the National Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Policy under the supervision of the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning.
She also sought the commitment of the Federal Government to strengthen monitoring and evaluation of (assessment of relevance, developmental efficiency, effectiveness, impact and sustainability) policies, programmes and projects.
Update on Federation Account Balances
The Minister of Finance also reported to Council the balances in the various federation accounts, including Excess Crude Account (ECA) which has a balance of $72.41million as at March 16, 2021; Stabilization Account N24.995billion, and Natural Resources Development Fund Account N90.75billion.