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Governor Wike explains rationale behind his secret COVID-19 vaccination

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By Amaechi Okonkwo, Port Harcourt

Against the backdrop of wide-ranging condemnation against him for avoiding to take the Covid-19 vaccine governor of Rivers state, Nyesom Wike, has confirmed taking the COVID-19 vaccination.

Speaking on Saturday when he received Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 delegation led by the national incident manager, Dr Mukhtar Muhammad, paid him a courtesy in Port Harcourt on Saturday, the governor disclosed that he had taken the COVID-19 jab.

He said ahead of resumption of international flights at the Port Harcourt Airport, the state government will dissolve the tribunal set up to prosecute violators of COVID-19 protocol if federal authorities try to influence outcome of cases.

According to Wike; “Some people said that I did not take my vaccine. I did, but am not into public show. Taking vaccine is not undertaking any project for anybody to see that you have taken vaccine. It has turned to politics. Assuming what am taking is not the vaccine? Yes, I can pretend and then they will put it on the news that I have taken the vaccine.

He warned that the State will not hesitate to dissolve the tribunal if federal authorities attend to influence outcome of any given case before the tribunal.

The governor lauded the PTF Chairman, Mr. Boss Mustapha and members of his team for the good job they have done in containing the spread of COVID-19 that has kept the world on its toes. He explained that the one billion naira given to Rivers state by the PTF is managed by the commissioner for health and the state government is prepared to account for the fund.

“We are not people who collect money from the Task Force and divert it. We are not a party to that. We are ready to give account any day, anytime because that money is public fund.”

The governor directed the state commissioner of transport to give the PTF a 40-seater luxurious bus to convene passengers from the airport to quarantine centre. He announced that work would immediately commence on the VIP lounge of the Port Harcourt International Airport and the job is expected to be completed within six months.

PTF National Incident Manager, Dr Mukhtar Muhammad applauded Governor Wike for tackling the pandemic head-on right from the first index case in the State. “Rivers State is one of the states that has been consistent in terms of testing. Many of the States that started testing have fallen back and we see different projections. They will test this week, next week they will go down, but Rivers have been very consistent in terms of testing.

“As of last week, Rivers has tested about 140,000 persons. You have diagnosed almost 7,000 cases of COVID-19 and the good thing is that over 92 percent of those who were COVID-19 positive have all recovered from the illness.”

Muhammad explained that ahead of the planned resumption of international flights at the Port Harcourt airport, the PTF has to visit the State to ensure all COVID-19 protocol measures are in place. He enjoined the state government to arrange for a hotel that will be used as health facility and negotiate for rate that should be affordable for any passenger to pay.

“We need to identify a health facility which is a hotel where people who do not comply with the protocol will be kept for a period of about eight days pending which they will be tested for COVID-19 and if they are negative, they will be allowed to go, but if they are positive, we will keep them in isolation facility.”

The PTF requested the state government to help beef up security at the airport and quarantine facility so that any person of concern do not escape and endanger the health of the public.

Citing the recent Health Protection Regulation order signed by President Muhammad Buhari which empowers state government authorities and security agencies to arrest and prosecute people who violate the COVID-19 protocol, the PTF urged Governor Wike to set up a tribunal that will handle cases of persons who jump quarantine.

“COVID 19 is something that we are all determined to work hard to limit the spread and also the infection and ensure many people in our states receive vaccination and develop immune to resist the disease.”

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