In order to further bolster people’s confidence in the efficacy and safety of the COVID- 19 vaccine, Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, yesterday, received the Oxford/ AstraZeneca vaccine at the Presidential Villa.
Similarly, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina; Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu and the Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Brig-Gen. Buba Marwa, also took their jabs.
State House Permanent Secretary, Tijjani Umar, was also vaccinated. While the Chief of Staff was inoculated by the Chief Medical Director of the State House, Dr. Hussain Munir, same exercise was conducted on others by the Chief Nursing Officer of the State House Clinic, Esther Ibrahim. Several presidential aides, as well as frontline State House medical staff were administered with the first shots of the vaccine after the Chief of Staff. All of them were issued their Vaccination Cards.
Also, members of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 yesterday received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as a further demonstration of its safety and efficacy.
Those who took the jabs were Ministers of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed; Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire; Environment, Muhammad Mahmood; and Foreign Affairs, Geoffery Onyema.
Others who took the jabs were World Health Organisation (WHO) Representative in Nigeria, Mr. Walter Mulombo; Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib; Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu; SGF Director of Press, Willie Bassey; Permanent Secretary, General Services Office (GSO) OSGF, Dr. Maurice Nnamdi; former Permanent Secretary GSO, Olusegun Adekunle; Permanent Secretary, Political, OSGF, Andrew David Adejoh; PTF National Incident Manager, Dr. Mohammed Mukhtar; Director General and Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Musa Nuhu and Head of Department, Surveillance and Epidemiology Department (NCDC), Mrs. Elsie Ilori. Four journalists considered to be part of the front liners in the fight against the pandemic were also inoculated.
They include Friday Okoregba of Channels Television, Hassan Tukur of Liberty Television, Nancy Oyediyaurum of Africa Independent Television (AIT) and Rahila Lassa of Voice of Nigeria (VON). All those who received their first jabs administered by Obuba Horsefall, the supervising nurse, Adaga Lucy and Obodia Ogonna, did e-registration and filling out of their vaccination cards and were later presented with vaccination cards.
The officials got vaccinated after President Muhammadu Buhari and his vice, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, got inoculated publicly on Saturday. In his remarks, Gambari said the vaccination was painless and that he followed the footsteps of his boss, President Buhari, who demonstrated leadership alongside his deputy last Saturday. He advised eligible Nigerians to take the vaccines assuring of its safety. According to him, the more Nigerians are vaccinated the more they are safe.
Gambari said: “My experience in receiving this was almost painless. ‘I want to encourage eligible Nigerians to take the vaccine. It is safe, painless and the benefits are immense. “It is not just for the individual, but the more Nigerians are vaccinated, the more we develop the herd immunity which will keep our country safe and our people healthy.”
In his remarks at the PTF daily briefing in Abuja, the Chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, said: “In this war, we are all involved because nobody is safe until everybody is safe. Our ultimate objective is to vaccinate about 70 per cent of our population, which is about 200 million, between year 2021 and 2022.”
Meanwhile, the PTF has threatened to ban flight from the UAE and The Netherlands as a reciprocal action.
The taskforce said the Ministry of Aviation and its relevant agencies have been mandated to take the necessary reciprocal measures as may be permissible under the laws and other international obligations expected to be discharged against Emirates Airlines operating from the UAE and other airlines from The Netherlands, particularly KLM. Mustapha said: “For over a month, Nigeria has been engaged with the authorities of the UAE and The Netherlands over predeparture testing requirements passengers should meet before travelling from Nigeria.”
According to him, the PTF has mandated the Ministry of Aviation and the NCAA to take necessary reciprocal measures as may be permissible under the laws and other international obligations. In February 2021, the Nigerian government did ban Emirates temporarily because the airline violated guidelines issued by the PTF.
The airline accepted passengers for boarding that had rapid antigen COVID test certificates issued by laboratories not on the list of ones approved by the authorities. UAE and The Netherlands face the ban on flying passengers out of Nigeria again because the airline had been using rapid COVID- 19 tests on customers before they were allowed to board flights to Dubai.
The new rapid testing requirement is believed to have been added to address concerns that some passengers were presenting fraudulent PCR certificates to get around existing preflight testing rules. Passengers travelling from Lagos and Abuja to Dubai are already required to take a COVID-19 test within 72-hours of departure and a second on arrival in Dubai.
The airline directed that only laboratories approved by the Dubai authorities should be used because of fears that some testing centres weren’t providing accurate results.
NCAA had explained in a statement that it had asked Emirates not to press ahead with its pre-flight rapid testing requirement until the test provider had been approved by the government. The NCAA claims Emirates had “failed to heed” its request