From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Ooni of Ife, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, and Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, have commended the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) and several other stakeholders for the dedication and commitment that culminated in the great success recorded on the fight against COVID-19 particularly as it concerns vaccination.
Similarly, the Executive Director, NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, also appreciated the doggedness and sacrifices of health workers and the support of donor agencies who contributed, financially and otherwise, to the significant successes achieved.
In their separate remarks at an event to celebrate the milestone achievements in COVID-19 vaccination in Abuja, on Friday, the traditional leaders, said the success as evident in the data was a shock and surprise to the world as Nigeria was hitherto included in the list of countries that would fail in the fight against COVID-19.
Ooni of Ife said: “for me, this success is under celebrated. People often thought that nothing good can ever come out of Nigeria, but we disappointed them this period. We all stood up during the challenges of COVID-19, hence the success being celebrated today. We were written off but we surprised the world.”
The Sultan of Sokoto who was represented by Emir of Argungu, Alhaji Samaila Muhammed Mera, appreciated the leadership style of the Presidential Steering Committee led by the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, which led to the success achieved.
The SGF, Boss Mustapha, who was represented by the Minister of State for Health, Joseph Ekumankama, said the improved data for vaccination was an indication that deaths from COVID-19 has reduced drastically in Nigeria.
He reminded the gathering that Federal Government had lifted all the restrictions regarding COVID-19, but advised that people should take personal responsibility regarding their health.
NPHCDA Executive Director, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, in his remarks, appreciated the support received from the US government in terms of vaccine provisions and other support.
However, Dr. Faisal had earlier disclosed that Nigeria had exceeded the expectations and the target it set for itself regarding COVID-19 vaccination.
He said: “At the beginning of the exercise, we told Nigerians that by December 2022, we would have covered 70 per cent of the eligible population. Now, we are at the point where we have fully vaccinated about 53 per cent of the eligible population, and 63 per cent of population with first dose.
“Going by the available figure, we are doing very well. We never expected that we would achieve the feat we did given the fact that we have issues of infrastructures and inadequate manpower. We have reached 54 million Nigerians with full vaccination and over 60 million people with the first shot of the vaccine.
“However, the success we recorded was as a result of the support we enjoyed from the President and other stakeholders, notably, traditional, religious leaders including the media.”
US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, in her speech, disclosed that over the period, the US government supported Nigeria with millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccines to assist its vaccination drive.
She promised that US government will continue to work with NPHCDA and other stakeholders to improve the health and wellbeing of Nigerians.