Chikwe Ihekweazu, the Director-General of the Nigeria Center for Disease Control NCDC, has reacted to the faceoff between some of its officials and the Kogi state government.
The NCDC officials arrived the state on Thursday, May 7 to evaluate claims by the state government that no case of COVID-19 has been recorded in the state. They met with the state governor, Yahaya Bello, who insisted they quarantine for 14 days and be tested for Coronavirus before they can start working in the state. This was turned down by the NCDC officials who opted to leave the state.
Reacting to the development, Ihekweazu while speaking at the daily briefing of the Presidential Taskforce on COVID19 in Abuja, said
”You can only offer help where the help is wanted. Yesterday we offered that help but it wasn’t in a place where the help could have been accepted. Unfortunately that is what happened last night.
The reality is we have had a great relationship with Kogi state. The honorable Commissioner for Health, Dr Saka, is a personal friend. We have supported COVID in every possible way.
One of the first states that had an emergency operation center supported by NCDC, we gave the state epidemiologist a vehicle, over a year ago to do his work. When we did all of that, I personally met the governor of the state. We had a good interaction.
Like I have said, the purpose of our existence is to support the states. They have the primary responsibility for health security in their state. Our role is to support them. It is a role I take very seriously and one we will continue to do no matter the odds.” he said
The Minister of health, Osagie Ehanire, who also commented said
”Kogi state is one of the two states that have said they do not have COVID19 patients. They seem to be sure of that. So the agreement we have had with them, the governors, is that we shall send a team in just to validate that fact. We did that for our own national records and to be able to report to the world what the situation is in our country because the whole world by now knows we don’t any actual records from these two states.
We triedn to send a team from the Ministry of Health and NCDC to Kogi state yesterday but there were some differences there. This means we need to re-engage the state governor and work with him and his team to create the conditions for which the Ministry of Health and NCDC can complete their job.” he said