It’s common knowledge that Governor Yahaya Bello unsurprisingly, leads the pack of political leaders in Nigeria spinning conspiracy theories on COVID-19.
In the mold of other conspiracy theorists, the need to always come up with one ‘fresh’ revelation after another is a priority, so as to keep the narrative strong – you should know that unending web.
Therefore, not one person could have been shocked – especially keen observers of the governor and his policies, when he declared from ‘I nor go fit tell you lie sources’ before residents of the state earlier this week, that the COVID-19 vaccines expected by the Federal Government for citizens are “meant to kill Nigerians and probably reduce the country’s population.”
According to Governor Bello, “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,”
With a second wave of the pandemic generating concerns and the need for vigilance in certain states (like Lagos) heightening, the worries of many are beginning to center on how dangerous such theories from influential leaders could be; in the all-important battle against the coronavirus.
Perhaps, fed up with keeping quiet and doubling on efforts to increase public awareness, the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) – umbrella body of the country’s 36 state governors, allayed the fears of the discerning public on these misleading claims by the Kogi Governor.
Excerpt from a communiqué issued at the end of its virtual meeting, and made available on Thursday, reads that the state executives totally and categorically dissociated themselves from the ‘ill-fated pronouncement’ made by a member of the forum, regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, in a national daily.
Signed by its Chairman, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, the forum says it “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.”
It added that the forum was briefed by “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.
They spoke 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.
For a chief executive who consistently insists that coronavirus doesn’t exist in his state, despite losing his Chief Judge to suspected COVID-19 complications, violates social distancing rules, among other protocols to contain the spread of the virus, it is doubtful that this will make him change overnight.
The most important achievement from this however, is that perhaps the ‘backup’ of the theorists with more than one life fails them, millions of undiscerning minds and innocent citizens who stand convinced and choose to do the needful, wouldn’t be among those who perish in the ‘red sea’ of ignorance.
May God help us out of this wilderness!
Temidayo Taiwo-Sidiq is a Political Journalist, Analyst and Social Change Advocate with major interest in Nigerian Politics, Governance and Sports.