EXCLUSIVE! COVID-19: More privileged Nigerians run abroad for vaccines

. Govs, family members, VIPs flock US, UK hospitals

. Afenifere chieftain, Arewa youth president condemn devt

Following the severity of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and the increasing number of casualties recorded across the world since its onset, more top Nigerian government officials, Very important personalities (VIPs) and other privileged persons in the country have been fleeing abroad, lately, to get jabs of the vaccines to adequately protect themselves from the deadly pandemic, FirstNews Online can report.

This category of Nigerians could no longer wait for the arrival of the Federal Government-ordered consignments of COVID-19 vaccines, which to them may not arrive in the country soon.

It was learnt that many Nigerian government officials at both the state and Federal levels as well as VIPs are still in the process of travelling out of the country to get the COVID-19 jabs to fortify themselves against the pandemic.

While not a few of this category of Nigerians have already left the shores of Nigeria for foreign countries, especially the United States, United Kingdom and even Dubai, to procure and get shots of the vaccine, many others have equally concluded arrangements to travel out of the country any time soon for appointments in foreign hospitals and other medical facilities abroad to get vaccinated against coronavirus.

FirstNews Online learnt that one of such personalities is Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State.

Obiano, it was gathered, had already concluded arrangement to get his own shots of the vaccine in the United States and may infact be jetting out to the US in a few weeks’ time for that purpose.

Already, Obiano’s wife, Ebelechukwu, had got her own jab of the COVID-19 vaccine in Houston.

Many other state governors and their family members, FirstNews gathered, had also made arrangements to be vaccinated against the deadly pandemic in medical facilities outside the country.

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This is inspite of the recent assurances by the National Primary Health Development Agency that the state governors, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and President Muhammadu Buhari would be given the COVID-19 vaccine on live television to encourage Nigerians to accept the vaccine.

A few weeks ago, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar shocked many Nigerians when pictures and videos surfaced on the social media showing him waiting in a Dubai, United Arab Emirate medical facility to get a jab of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Unconfirmed reports indicate that the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, also took a jab of the vaccine recently in France when he was rushed to the European country for treatment for an undisclosed ailment.

But when contacted by FirstNews Online on Tuesday, Tinubu’s media aide, Tunde Rahman, declined to comment on the issue.

Early January, speculations about Tinubu’s health status, especially reports on social media that the politician was battling with COVID-19, had caused anxiety among his supporters and the ruling APC.

His spokesman, Rahman, had then denied the report, saying his principal had done COVID-19 test 15 times with all the results coming out negative.

During the first wave of the pandemic last year, many prominent Nigerians and government officials lost their lives to complications arising from COVID-19. Some of them include the then Chief of Staff to the President, Malam Abba Kyari; former Oyo State governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi; billionaire financier of the Peoples Democratic Party in Ogun State, Senator Buruji Kashamu and many others.

Several other prominent Nigerians, including some incumbent state governors, were also infected by the virus but were lucky to have escaped death. Some of these lucky personalities include Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu; Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State; Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi; Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and his family members; Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State; Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu; Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State; Benue State Governor and lately, Governor Olusola Sanwo-Olu of Lagos.

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Some prominent Nigerians who have lost their lives to the pandemic since the onset of the pandemic’s second wave include General Officer Commanding Six Division, Major General John Olu Irefin; Abeokuta, Ogun State- born Rolls Royce-loving billionaire businessman, Dr Bolu Akin-Olugbade and former Lagos State military governor, Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu.

The acceleration of the pandemic in its ongoing second wave has continued to claim lives and cause panic among populations across the world.

Consequently, many countries across the world have been on the queue to procure effective vaccines for its citizens.

According to the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Faisal Shuaib, Nigeria is expecting its first 100,000 doses of Pfizer and bioNtech vaccines at the end of this month.

The country is also expecting ‘free’ 42 million doses of vaccines in the second phase through the COVAX facility, an initiative run by the vaccine alliance, GAVI, to ensure equitable access to a COVID vaccine.

The Nigerian government has also inaugurated an 18-member national COVID-19 task team to ensure ‘vaccine security’ on arrival.

But government officials and their family members, VIPs and other privileged citizens in Nigeria, who, due to the fear of being killed by the ravaging pandemic can no longer continue to wait, are seeking alternative and faster means of getting vaccinated in medical facilities in foreign countries.

Some other prominent Nigerians have, however, been kicking against the development, describing such category of Nigerian leaders as insensitive and selfish.

Reacting to the development, a leader of the pan-Yoruba socio-political group Aferenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, said the decision of the leaders to obtain the vaccine outside the country clearly portrayed who they truly are and the kind of love they have for their followers.

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“Of course, nobody says they should not take care of themselves, but that at the same time such an act depicts the type of leaders they are. Going abroad to take the vaccines show the depth of their love for the citizens of the country,” Adebanjo said.

National Chairman, Arewa Youths Consultative Forum, Alhaji Shettima Yerima, said the action of the country’s political leaders and VIPs to get the COVID-19 vaccine outside the country before the arrival of the consignment for all citizens could be part of the efforts to persuade Nigerians to accept the vaccine whenever it is available in the country.

Yerima, however, noted that the vaccine could pose some dangers to the health of Nigerians, adding that there have been various warnings in this regard at the international level.

He said, “It is very unfortunate that despite the fact that we have experts abroad, the government of the day cannot bring them back home to make their research and come up with something good for our system. They still want to force the vaccine to put the western world problem on us. Despite people saying this thing is not good for us, they still remain adamant. It is very unfortunate.

“But I just hope they will meet a very serious resistance from Nigerians. Whatever motive they have behind this, they need to go a long way in convincing Nigerians because there are agitations going around against it and there are people clamouring that the vaccine is not good for Nigerians.”

By FirstNews online

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