There was drama at the Lugard House Lokoja, the official residence of the Kogi State Governor as officials of the National Centre for Disease Control NCDC, led by Dr Andrew Noah, ordered to be isolated by the Kogi State Governor Alhaji Yahaya Bello have fled the state to avoid being embarrassed.
Governor Bello had ordered the leader of the NCDC delegation to proceed on isolation for shaking hands with the Director of Protocol, Sunday Ayenibe after taking the microphone from him.
The governor had also explained that Dr Andrew Noah had contravened the rules and regulations of NCDC and so should be tested for COVID-19 since he was coming from the epicenter of the disease.
Explaining the position of the state government, Kingsley Fanwo, the state commissioner for Information said “It was drama today at the Kogi State Government House as officials of the National Center for Disease Control sent to ascertain the COVID-19 status flee the state ” Fanwo stated.
It would be recalled that Kogi is one of the two states that are yet to record a single COVID-19 case in the federation.
“The Officials of the NCDC said they were sent to the State to assist the state in responding to the challenges posed by the pandemic.
“The Officials said they were not ready to be tested for COVID-19 and went back to Abuja.
He said that why the NCDC Officials feared being tested was a matter of concern to the Government of Kogi State.
The Commissioner said that NCDC should come hard on its Officials for violating its rules.
“Today, the Governor showed the statesmanship in him once again by appreciating the support of the NCDC and defending the health interests of his people.
“NCDC quarantined the Chinese professionals that came to give them technical support and also took their samples for test. It is a normal practice and protocol set by NCDC.
“So NCDC will have a lot to explain as to why its officials refused to test for COVID-19. How can we be sure of their status? What are their fears? Why did NCDC sent people who are afraid of test to our State? What was their intention?
“The officials that came have done an integrity blow to the works of the NCDC. Is there something they are hiding? It is time NCDC opened up and apologize to the good people of Kogi State.
“How will they encourage people to test when its own officials are afraid of the test? This is sad”.Fanwo noted.
However, a reliable source at the meeting between the governor and the NCDC delegation said he was visibly angry with the expressed opinion of the leader of the delegation Dr Andrew Noah over the prevailing situation in the state.
Noah was said to have expressed the dissatisfaction of the team over the non-observance of all the safety measures and protocols established by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control to stem the spread of the virus.
Governor Bello was also said to have been enraged by the team’s condemnation of the non availability of well-equipped isolation and treatment centres in the state and therefore threatened to keep them in quarantine for fourteen days, accusing them of importing the virus into the state.
Though it was difficult to get through to Dr Noah who led the NCDC delegation, SunriseNigeria recalls that there have been serious concerns over claims that the State has not recorded any confirmed case of the virus, especially given its proximity to the Federal Capital Territory which is one of the epicenters of the infection.
This concern is predicated on the suspicion of the State’s lack of testing capacity which could be responsible for its no-positive-case position.
Secondly, the state governor Yahaya Bello had been seen in a video that had gone viral saying that the pandemic was 90% political and 10% common flu. Although the state government had claimed that the said video was doctored. Whatever the case might have been, the impression had been created that the governor was one of those who believed that the pandemic was a scam.
There have been sustained mutual suspicion between the state government and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) over the real status of Kogi State regarding the disease, with the governor accusing the NCDC of trying to force the state to accept fabricated figures. The NCDC, on its part has also subtly accused the state of insincerity.
The drama that played out between the NCDC team and governor Yahaya Bello could therefore have been a fallout of the no-love-lost relationship between the state government and the health organisation.