GOCOP 2021 Conference: FG declares that war against COVID-19 not yet over, as Lagos plans to build Africa’s best vaccine research center

WorldStage Newsonline– The Secretary of the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, Mr Boss Mustapha on Wednesday warned Nigerians that the war against COVID-19 is not yet over.

The SGF who was represented by the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCD), Dr Faisal Shuaib at the Fifth Annual Conference of the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers (GOCOP) in Lagos disclosed that Nigeria had won several battles but the war against COVID-19 was not yet over.

Speaking at the conference with the theme: “Post COVID-19 Pandemic: Recovery and Reconstruction in Nigeria, he said “Our next battle is fighting disinformation and misinformation about vaccines that has led to Vaccine hesitancy in some communities.

“Nigeria is making progress, but we need to win this war with facts and figures. We are making progress, but we need to win this argument with facts and figures, in order for us to finally climb out of the restriction and socioeconomic impacts imposed by the pandemic.”

Shuaib who further appealed to Nigerians, especially those above 18 years old to get vaccinated, stated that the COVID-19 scourge is potent and still ravaging other parts of the world.

He commended the media and other frontline workers who have been investing their professional and humanistic skills and effort in fighting the deadly virus.

According to him, as of Tuesday, 5th October 2021, Nigeria had recorded 206,279 cases, 2,724 deaths and 194,167 recoveries, compared to a global statistic of 236,196,953 cases in 221 counties, 4,823,501 deaths and 213,258,831 recoveries.

“If we consider that Nigeria recorded 13 deaths per one million population compared to a global average of 604.7 deaths per one million, we will then begin to appreciate the efforts put in by all of us, especially the frontline workers including the media, and of course with the help of Almighty God.

“We plead with all, not to let our guards down because the pandemic is yet to be halted. We must continue to observe the non-pharmaceutical intervention measures and be our brother’s keepers.

“I also urge every eligible person, 18 years and above to come out and get vaccinated as this is the only sure way we can achieve immunity and recover fully.”

Also speaking at the event, the Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who was, however, represented by the state’s commissioner for information and starategy, Mr. Gbenga Omotosho, said the state was set to build of the best Vaccination research center in Nigeria to boost the research efficiencies of the country and stop the country from struggling to get vaccines from the West.

He said: “Very soon, we are going to build a research center that is going to be the best in Africa so that when we have  a kind of pandemic or medical problem capable of causing massive death tolls, we do not need to rush to the west to get vaccine.

Mr. Gbenga Omotoso, Hon. Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Lagos State

“We have our own experts here and they are asking for a conducive environment for them to work and provide for us a kind of vaccine that we need to help fortify our bodies against any pandemic that may come.”

The Governor who stressed that the nation will not be able to recover certain casualties that were recorded during the daring times of COVID-19, said that the Federal Government was poised to ensure reconstruction of the nation.

He said: “Talking about recovery, I do not want to stress the point that the world has recovered from COVID-19.

“I do not want to bore you with figures on how businesses have suffered, aviation, education and every aspect of our lives were affected and are still affected.

“So by the time the economists come later in the years to come and start talking about what we have lost, what we could have made and what we will be losing, because of the things that we couldn’t do in those two years that COVID-19 really hit the world, I am sure it will be in the range of figures that nobody can even think about, incredible, unimaginable figures.

“So, for us to be talking about recovery now, it will sound as if we are saying alleluia, whereas it is not yet alleluia. The virus is still very potent and it is still fighting to bring out all manner of variants everyday and experts are still working to really understand this virus.

“From my own layman’s point of view, and watching the people on the frontline, I have seen experts, doctors, lab assistants and all of the people working on the front line, they now understand the virus better.

“It is not as if anybody has been able to find an answer to it, but they now understand the way it behaves; they now understand that it is irrational; they now understand that it could be rash. I mean, a person is hail and healthy and the next moment, you will see the person struggling to breathe and if you do not find experts around, it will cause a life, but nowadays, our doctors they now understand it better and the vaccine that the whole world is rushing to take now, it is unfortunate that there is what we call vaccine politics now that the less endowed world such as Africa unlike develop world they are struggling to catch up with the west on the vaccination of their people because science has told us that if you take the vaccine, even though it does not guarantee the fact that you will not catch COVID-19, but it is going to make you to lower the chance of dying of the desease. So the world is rushing to take on the vaccine.

“The US for example is now talking about taking the third shot because it will help people to be strong to confront the virus.

 “Unfortunately, here, we cannot make any and we depend on the vaccine of the West on their kind heart for them to just say because of the love of humanity we the Nigeria and some other African countries should have some, but what I want to assure you is that we do not pray for another pandemic, but the reality of life is that when it comes again, we were talking about Ebola today, we are talking about COVID-19, but in Lagos State, we are being proactive.”

The Chief Executive of NPHCD said the Federal Government had approved the construction of 42 new oxygen plants and will overhaul about 18 of such plants.

According to him, “When completed, Nigeria will be approaching near self-sufficiency for oxygen which is critical not only for COVID-19 but for cases of childhood pneumonia and emergency and critical care units.”

The NPHCD boss further commended the media for what he described as a “good job” in disseminating factual information to the masses during the heat of the COVID-19 scourge, also appealed to Nigerians to go and get vaccinated.

He said, “all thanks to science and technology, we are at the level of vaccination. I urge every eligible person to go out and get vaccinated.

“I should not fail to acknowledge the role of the media in the fight against the pandemic. Your constructive criticisms, prompt reports of the activities of PTF and your concerted public enlightenment helped in no small measure to douse the negative impacts of conspiracy theories, fake news and vaccine hesitation.

“I want to thank members of GOCOP for exhibiting maturity, patriotism, and professionalism in the reporting of matters relating to the pandemic. The daily briefing at the initial stage and subsequently weekly and now bi-weekly goes a long way to give the people the right information and on time.

“All these helped to mitigate the effect of fake news and conspiracy theories on the National Response.

Maureen Chigbo being inaugurated as the President of GOCOP at the event

“I urge you to use the power of the media and the articles of your trade, in this instance the words that you write or speak, the caricatures (cartoons) and memes to intensify public enlightenment on vaccination.

“On the part of the Federal Government, I want to assure Nigerians that we have enough vaccines, and we are expecting more.

“The vaccination efforts led by the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency has been hailed as one of the best globally by the World Health Organization. We believe that, just as we combated the virus, the vaccination program will ensure that every Nigerian gets access to life saving commodities.  Let me restate this here and now that COVID-19 is not a death sentence. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Let us all put our hands to the pump as we begin the Recovery and Reconstruction.”

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