THE Kogi State government has accused both the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 and the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) of scaring away investors through deliberate lies regarding COVID-19 in the state.
The PTF had, on Tuesday, warned against travelling to Kogi after classifying the state, Yobe, Jigawa, Zamfara and Kebbi as ‘high-risk’ COVID-19 states.
The PTF hinged its decision on the state government’s repeated denial of the existence of the deadly disease and its poor attitude towards report tests and isolation centres.
Reacting, Kingsley Fanwo, state commissioner for information and communication, said the government believed that the intention of the PTF and NCDC was to drive away investors from the state.
“Despite their unreliable figures, Kogi emerged as the preferred investment destination of Nigeria in the last quarter of 2020. They felt embarrassed and the best way to hit back is to create a picture of health crisis in the state.”
According to him, Kogi was the first state to procure face masks in thousands and distributed to all the councils, as well as the first to set up a team to combat the spread of the virus.
“We set up isolation centres with state-of-the-art equipment. We have done sensitisation more than any other state. So if we don’t believe that Covid-19 exists, we won’t be doing all we are doing to ensure it doesn’t ravage our state.
“What we said and are still saying is that Covid-19 is not worth all the marketing going on just for a few to make billions; that we do not have to suffer innocent Nigerians while a few smile to the banks,” the commissioner said.
He said that the cases reported in Kogi were fraudulent, saying that the named institutions could not have been working in the interest of public good. He noted that the NCDC data was unreliable and inconsistent.
Entangled in a web of conspiracy
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country, Yahaya Bello, state governor, has consistently denied the existence of COVID-19 in his state and the country.
In July 2020, some unknown gunmen invaded the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) in Lokoja to disrupt a COVID-19 press conference scheduled to demand a COVID-19 screening centre in the state and to address the challenges facing health workers in their fight against the disease. Some medical officers in the facility were severely beaten and injured.
Last month, Bello was seen expressing doubts on the authenticity of the vaccine and alluding that there was no cure for Covid-19, HIV and many other diseases troubling mankind before a crowd of supporters in a viral video.
Citing a 1996 Pfizer vaccine in Kano that had an adverse effect on its recipients, the governor stressed that the vaccine was intended to introduce diseases that would kill Nigerians and the rest of the world.
“Vaccines are being produced in less than one year of COVID-19. There is no vaccine yet for HIV, malaria, cancer, headache and for several other diseases that are killing us. They want to use the (COVID-19) vaccines to introduce the disease that will kill you and us. God forbid,” he had said.
“We should draw our minds back to what happened in Kano during the Pfizer polio vaccines that crippled and killed our children. We have learned our lessons.
“If they say they are taking the vaccines in the public, allow them take their vaccines. Don’t say I said you should not take it, but if you want to take it, open your eyes before you take the vaccines.”
THE Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) has since distanced itself from Bello’s comments and claims, saying it would only be guided by science and take decisions with public and professional trust.