National Sports Festival: Why Kogi may not participate

National Sports Festival: Why Kogi may not participate

Wednesday, March 24, 2021 12:15 pm

Governor Yahaya Bello

Richard Elesho/ Lokoja

The official position of the Kogi State Government on the Coronavirus disease pandemic and its vaccination may rub the State of her chance to participate in the 20th edition of the Nigeria Sports Festival. Tagged Edo 2021, the festival is scheduled to start on Friday April 2nd in Benin city.

The states refusal to take delivery of its consignment of the Astrazenneca vaccine let alone administering it and Federal Government’s insistence that all athletes must take the vaccine has fuelled the fear of the state’s exclusion from the festival.

It would be recalled that Edo State Deputy Governor Philip Shaibu, who doubles as the Chairman of the Local Organising Committee of the sports festival, said athletes must take COVID-19 vaccines before arrival for the event.

“All athletes/officials are to take COVID-19 vaccines at least 12 days before arrival for the tournament,” Shaibu said in a statement.

Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, however, said he won’t take the COVID-19 vaccine and would also not encourage residents of the state to take it.

“If the Federal Government is gracious enough and gives us COVID-19 vaccines, we will equally sensitise our people. People who wish to take can come and take, but I am not going to subject the people of Kogi State to vaccines or vaccination, and I will not make them the guinea pigs,” Bello told Channels TV on March 5.

According to the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr Fiasal Shuaib, all states, except Kogi, have taken delivery of the COVID-19 Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines.

The Punch reports when its correspondent contacted the Kogi State Commissioner for Youth and Sports Development, Idris Musa, he said he wouldn’t take the vaccine, adding that the state won’t make provisions for athletes to take the vaccine.

He said he would step aside from participating in the sports festival if he was not allowed in.

“I think the Edo State Government or the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development will agree with us that we are going to do our test to get a certificate that all of us are okay, but in terms of the vaccine, there is nothing I can say now because the Federal Government and the state are still in dialogue.

Up till now, the vaccines are not even enough for some states that have agreed to take them, so, our case should not be a yardstick,” Musa ssid

“If they say I can’t participate because I haven’t taken the vaccine, then I have to step down, I will not take it.

“We are not encouraging anybody to take it, it is an individual opinion. If you think you have COVID-19 and you want to take a vaccine, go ahead and take it, but some of us are healthy, we don’t have COVID-19. How can I go ahead to take something that the producer did not take? We don’t have the vaccines in Kogi.”

Reacting, the Special Assistant on Media to the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, John Joshua-Akanji, said COVID-19 vaccination was compulsory for athletes to be admitted into the festival.

“All athletes must be vaccinated,” Akanji said.

The News reports that other states have made arrangements for their respective teams to be vaccinated against the Covid-19 pandemic.

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