The Christian Association of Nigeria-CAN on Friday urged residents of Kogi State to accept the reality of COVID-19 and take the vaccine, saying it is safe.
Chairman of the body in state, Bishop Dr. John Ibenu, gave the advice in Lokoja when officials of Kogi State Ministry of Health and Kogi Primary Health Care Development Agency paid him an advocacy visit preparatory to receiving COVID-19 vaccines in the state.
He said a stakeholders meeting between CAN National President, Dr Ikupoluyi Samson Ayokunle, the Minister of Health, the OSGF (Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation) Food and drug regulator NAFDAC and others came to the conclusion that COVID-19 is real.
He said the meeting also concluded that it was safe to take the vaccine.
“We listened to many presentations by professionals and we carried out our own investigation and concluded that the vaccine is beneficial to mankind and that everyone should accept it.
He assured Nigerians that CAN would be the number one body to stand against anything that could harm anyone.
He stressed that it was against international standard and health practice to introduce anything that would be harmful to humanity, saying, “CAN will never be part of anything that will be harmful to humanity.
“The COVID-19 vaccine is safe; there is no trick in it; please let us not be left behind.’’
Mr Ibenu noted that it was not compulsory to take the vaccine and that those who did not want it could stay away.
“It is for the benefit of humanity and we certify it to be okay for everybody,’’ he stressed.
The cleric thanked the Kogi State government under the leadership of Governor Alhaji Yahaya Bello, for all it had done to save lives in the state since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The bishop commended the Ministry of Health and the governor in particular for being very open and practical in handling the issue of COVID-19 from the onset.
“As far as COVID-19 is concerned, the Kogi government has taken the most pragmatic approach in addressing the situation from Day One of the virus,’’ Mr Ibenu said.
The cleric’s adulation of the Kogi government however sounds ironic. State governor Yahaya Bello has been vociferous in his rejection of COVID-19 and vaccines. He also, without any scientific basis, asked Nigerians to reject the vaccines, claiming it was unsafe.
Kogi also did not allow testing for the contagion with authorities claiming many conspiracy theories about the virus. The government only soft-pedaled on its anti-COVID stance of recent.
Earlier, Acheku Yusuf, Kogi State Health Promotion Officer, said the visit was on the mandate of the Kogi government to seek CAN’s support on COVID-19 vaccination.
He said that Kogi was expected to receive COVID-19 vaccines very soon, and CAN would be needed as one of the critical stakeholders to educate the people.
“We want your support in educating people in Kogi to accept the vaccine, but we must not force anybody to take it,’’ Mr Yusuf said.