Governor Yahaya Bello is a danger to health security of Nigeria – Prof Tomori

Professor Oyewale Tomori, a professor of virology and chairman of Expert Review Committee on COVID-19, said Yahaya Bello, governor of Kogi State, was a danger to the country’s health security. Tomori said this in an exclusive interview with The ICIR.

He pointed out that the governor was uncaring because he did not care about his people, did not care about their good health, did not care about their welfare, and was a danger not only to the people of Kogi but also to the entire country. “We waited too late to do that. It is right for the PTF to have declared the state a high-risk state.

The day he started denying the existence of the disease is when the state should have been declared that, but it is never late than never,” he said. Tomori, chairman, Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19, classifies the governor as one of the country’s most dangerous people.  “If the governor says there are no cases of COVID-19 in his state, has he forgotten that some cases that were recorded in the FCT originated from his state?” “Some Youth Corps members that were deployed to the state tested positive, but he denied it.

Why is he so afraid of testing?” he asked Tomori explained that disease was not a static thing as people would always move, go out, come in, and infect others. “Is it that people in Kogi state are so good at wearing their masks?” he asked. He said the governor often gave a false impression that Kogi had just five cases almost one year after the country recorded its first case.

The Redeemers University’s pioneer vice-chancellor also blamed the federal government for not ensuring that states accounted for the COVID-19 fund that was disbursed to them all. He said, “I recall that each state got 1 billion naira, so what has Kogi State done with the money if there are no COVID cases in the state?” he asked. In its response, the state government had accused the PTF and NCDC of scaring away investors from the state, Tomori, in his response, asked if it was only Kogi that needed investors in its state.

“What has investors got to do with the health of the people? We are talking about the life of your people, and you are talking about business. The economy can be revived later. If there is no life, there is no livelihood,” Tomori said. Tomori was unhappy that Nigeria would often make little investment in health because of its inability to yield immediate revenue, but stressed that any health disaster often destroyed all the economy built over the years. He said he was glad that the Governors’ Forum dissociated itself from Yahaya Bello’s comment and that the PTF had taken the right decision now. “Everyone from every angle should condemn this governor for what he is doing,” he noted.

The NCDC was contacted for reactions on the state government’s response to the declaration. China Cindy, a clinical epidemiologist at the NCDC, did not respond to questions posed to her, saying she was not authorised to speak to the press. “I am a public servant, and we have a protocol. You need to get permission for an interview to be granted,” she told the reporter on the phone.

She gave the reporter contact details of Chukwuemeka Oguanuo, who is in charge of external communications and media at the NCDC, but calls placed to his line did not connect and a message sent to him did not get a response.

Credit: International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR)


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