- …Say we’ll be guided by science, not conflict of interests
By Lateef Ibrahim, Abuja
Governors of the 35 States in the country have dissociated themselves from the claim by their Kogi State colleague, Yahaya Bello that the COVID-19 vaccines being brought into the country is aimed at killing Nigerians.
The Governors, under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, categorically declared that they will continue to be informed and guided by science and will ensure that every decision they take retains public and professional trust.
They vowed that their decisions will not be allowed to be compromised by conflicts of interest.
The Governors said these in a communiqué issued at the end of their 24th Teleconference meeting on Wednesday in Abuja.
The Governor of Kogi State had discouraged the use of COVID-19 vaccine, saying they are meant to kill people.
However, the State Governors, in their communique signed by the Chairman of NGF and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, said that they would not be swayed by Governor Bello’s sentiment and conflict of interest.
The Governors, in the communique, said, “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”.
Following the various presentations made to it, the Nigeria Governors’ Forum has set up a team of experts led by Professor Oyewale Tomori to advice State governors on the procurement and administration of coronavirus vaccines in the country.
The communiqué reads in part, “ We, members of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), at our meeting held today, (Wednesday) deliberated on matters of national importance, particularly on the procurement and administration of COVID-19 vaccines in the country.
“The NGF Chairman, H.E. Dr. Kayode Fayemi, 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.
“Nigeria is among 12 countries in Africa that have indicated readiness of the 92 qualified countries for the facility and will by end of February 2021 receive its first shipment of vaccines.
“The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has indicated that vaccines will be administered in four (4) phases, based on vaccine type and availability, initially for frontline health workers, then the aged (55yrs and above), persons with underlying medical conditions and other target groups.
“The Forum received briefings from three medical experts including Professor Oyewale Tomori, leading Virologist and former Vice-Chancellor of Redeemer’s University, Nigeria; Dr. Faisal Shuaib, Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA); Dr. Pamela Ajayi Founder/Managing Director Synlab Nigeria (formerly PathCare), President Healthcare Federation of Nigeria and Dr. Egbe Dawodu, Founding Partner of the Anadach Group on the country’s preparedness for the procurement and administration of COVID vaccines and the level of collaboration required from all stakeholders, including the federal, state governments and the private sector.
“Following the presentations, the Forum set up a team of experts led by Professor Oyewale Tomori to advice State governors on the procurement and administration of coronavirus vaccines in the country.
“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 Governor of Delta State, Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, who is the Chairman of the NGF Sub- Committee interfacing with the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 reported with concern the rising positivity rate amongst those tested for the virus.
“He called on Governors to do more to reactivate their health systems, open-up treatment centres and increase partnerships with stakeholder groups in order to improve risk communication and the public’s adherence to COVID-19 guidelines.
“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”, the communique said.
The Forum, according to the communique, also received a presentation from Dimensions Information Technology LLC on a proposed harmonized Traffic Management System for States which is aimed at boosting their internal revenue generation.
The plan, it added, was assigned to a Committee, peopled by the Governors of Lagos, Niger, Jigawa and Edo State for review and appropriate advice to the Forum.
Continuing, the communique said,
“Finally, the Governor of Edo State, H.E Godwin Obaseki updated State Governors on the Eligibility Criteria for the 2020 States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) Annual Performance Assessment (APA) which requires in part that all State governments prepare their FY2021 budgets in line with the National Chart of Accounts (minimum of administrative, economic and function classifications) and that the budgets are approved by their State Houses of Assembly, assented by Governors, and published online by 31st January 2021.
“The Governor stated that all States have already met the second part of the Eligibility Criteria by publishing an IPSAS-compliant 2019 Audited Financial Statement online by August last year. He encouraged States to take advantage of the Technical Assistance being provided by the NGF Secretariat on the domestication of the National Chart of Accounts”, it explained.