Kogi has been flagged as a high-risk state by the federal government over Governor Yahaya Bello’s refusal to acknowledge the existence of COVID-19.
The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 also accused Mr. Bello of refusing to let tests be conducted in Kogi and failing to build isolation centres. On Monday, the PTF declared Kogi a high-risk place, warning Nigerians against visiting the state.
“A state that is not testing at all is an absolute high risk for Nigerians to go there because there is no testing facility and even if you fall sick, there is no isolation centre, and they don’t even acknowledge that the disease exists. So for that reason, we put that state at the top of the high-risk states,” stated Mukhtar Muhammad, the National Incident Manager of the PTF.
He added that the task force was working to provide support to various states by implementing the new regulations signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari. In January, it was reported that Mr. Bello warned Nigerians against receiving the COVID-19 vaccine yet to arrive in the country, claiming it was to introduce a disease that will wipe out the population.
The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) dissociated itself from the claims by Mr. Bello, urging him to take the crisis seriously. The forum restated that it would rely on the information and guidelines given by health professionals and scientists to ensure the decision it would make will help retain public and professional trust, not compromised by conflicts of interests.
With an academic background in accounting, Mr. Bello possesses no scientific expertise or professional competence to advise Nigerians against the realities of COVID-19 or efficacy of vaccines. Mr. Bello’s office did not return requests seeking comments form the Gazette about Kogi’s categorisation as a high-risk destination for the raging pandemic.