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COVID-19: Five controversies of Kogi gov Yahaya Bello


In this report, ADEMOLA OLONILUA takes a look at the controversial comments and actions of Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello on COVID-19

COVID-19 only out to create fear, panic

Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, in a report on June 30, 2020, alleged that COVID-19 is an artificial creation aimed at causing fear and panic among people. 

Bello made this statement as he spoke at the third-day prayers for the state Chief Judge, Justice Nasir Ajana. The governor further claimed that the chief judge did not die of coronavirus. 

He advised citizens “not to give in to fear and evil of the issues of COVID-19”, adding that “it is a disease that has been imported, propagated and forced on the people for no just cause”.

“Whether medical experts and scientists, believe it or not, COVID-19 is out to shorten the lifestyle of the people, it is a disease propagated by force for Nigerians to accept,” he said. 

…Rejects N1.1bn support fund from World Bank

Bello said his government rejected N1.1bn support fund from the World Bank because of his belief that COVID-19 is a “glorified malaria”. 

The governor also described the World Bank’s Memorandum of Understanding for the fund as “a one-sided agreement”.

He said, “I rejected the World Bank fund because I do not believe in COVID-19. Even the five cases reported in Kogi State is an NCDC creation.

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“Go and check records; Kogi State is the only state that refused to sign that document for N1.1bn because I don’t believe in COVID. N500m has been disbursed, Kogi State did not receive and I refused to receive and I rejected it.”

…Refuses COVID-19 vaccines

Earlier this year, Bello discouraged the use of COVID-19 vaccine,  stating that the jabs are meant to kill people. 

The Federal Government had announced that Nigerians will receive the vaccine by January 2021, adding that a technical working group in the Ministry of Health is working on which vaccine will best suit Nigeria.

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But in a viral video, the Kogi governor condemned the use of the vaccine, saying it is meant to kill people.

“These vaccines are being produced in less than one year of COVID-19. There is no vaccine yet for HIV, malaria, cancer, and for several diseases that are killing us… We should draw our minds back to what happened in Kano during the polio vaccines that crippled and killed our children. We have learned our lessons.

“If they say they are taking the vaccines in the public allow them take their vaccines. Don’t say I said you should not take it but if you want to take it open your eyes before you take the vaccines,” the governor had said.

…Refuses to respond to COVID-19 second wave with ‘mass hysteria’

During his January 1, 2021 broadcast, the first citizen of Kogi State announced that his government will not respond to the second wave of COVID-19 with panic. 

He said, “As before, we remain determined as a government not to respond to the highly controversial second wave with mass hysteria. While reiterating that our primary objective is keeping Kogi state Coronavirus-free as it is as of today, we will continue to respond to developments with reason informed by knowledge.

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“Of course, it would be irresponsible as a government to allow COVID-19 to be the sole definer of our 2020. In fact, in many aspects, it proved to be an opportunity for us in many sectors.”

Fails to wear facemask at public gatherings

When Bello attended the funeral of Flying Officer, Tolulope Arotile, in Abuja, he failed to wear a mask, which was a breach of the COVID-19 guidelines.

For the event, Bello, who represented Arotile’s home state, Kogi, was clad in a white Agbada and cap but without a face mask. However, his wife who sat next to him wore a face mask.

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In several photos posted on social media, the Governor has been seen exchanging pleasantries with VIPs without wearing a mask. This is because he has constantly denied the existence of COVID-19 in Kogi State despite being confronted with evidence by federal health officials.

Nigeria Governors Forum dissociates itself from Bello’s comments on COVID-19

The Nigeria Governors Forum has dissociated itself from a statement by a member and Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, about Coronavirus conspiracy theories.

It also set up a committee of experts headed by Prof. Oyewole Tomori to advise members on the procurement and administration of Coronavirus vaccines expected to arrive in Nigeria in February.

The decision was taken after the NGF received briefings from three medical experts, including Tomori, a leading virologist and former Vice-Chancellor of Redeemer’s University of Nigeria; Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr Faisal Shuaib; and the founder/Managing Director of Synlab Nigeria, Dr Pamela Ajayi, among others.

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The Chairman of the NGF/Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, said this in a communiqué he signed after a virtual meeting of the forum on Wednesday, which was made public on Thursday.

It read in part, “Following the presentations, the Forum set up a team of experts, led by Prof Oyewale Tomori, to advice state governors on the procurement and administration of coronavirus vaccines in the country.

“On the ill-fated pronouncement made by a member of the Forum regarding the COVID-19 vaccine in a national daily, the Forum totally and categorically dissociated itself from the statement, emphasising that the Forum will continue to be informed and guided by science and will ensure that every decision it takes retains public and professional trust and is not compromised by conflicts of interest.”

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