SPEECH BY BOSS MUSTAPHA, SECRETARY TO GOVERNMENT OF THE FEDERATION AND CHAIRMAN PRESIDENTIAL TASK FORCE ON COVID-19 AT CEREMONY MARKING THE ARRIVAL OF ASTRAZENECA COVID-19 VACCINE IN NIGERIA AT NNAMDI AZIKIWE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT ABUJA ON TUESDAY 2ND MARCH 2021
The arrival of the Astra-Zeneca vaccines today, marks a significant milestone in the National Response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria. For over one year, humanity has remained under the siege of a virus that has impacted on lives, livelihood, destroyed economies, governance systems, medical services, socio-economic systems, etc.
- Nations around the world have deployed enormous resources to tackle the virus which has seen a first wave and more virulent second wave. As at date, it has claimed over 2.5 million lives world wide and we are still counting.
- The successful development of vaccines and the accelerated process for emergency authorisation has brought hope to humanity all over the world. Its arrival in Nigeria today has been made possible through purposeful leadership by His Excellency, the President, collaboration with domestic stakeholders, the international community and pain staking technical efforts to ensure that what we are offering Nigerians is safe and efficacious.
- Prior to the vaccines phase, we had introduced and promoted the non-pharmaceutical interventions. These remain very valid measures to take under the Infection Prevention and Control Policy. I therefore urge all Nigerians to continue to comply with these measures even as we roll out the vaccines administration plan which is expected to reach 70% 0f our population between 2021 and 2022. Under the circumstances, it must continue to be NPIs + Vaccines.
- Although this consignment of vaccines is just 3.924m doses of the expected 16m doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the COVAX Facility, we are indeed grateful to the coalition that has made this possible for us to receive it.
- The administration of the vaccines to the last mile will be prioritized in a strategically planned manner to meet out peculiar needs, cover our heroic health care workers who have sacrificed their all, including their lives, in the cause of caring for the rest of us. The PTF, working with the FMoH/NPHCDA, shall also ensure transparency, efficiency and economy under the process. It is therefore important to assure all Nigerians that their turns for receiving the jab will come.
- Ahead of the full roll out in the coming days, we urge all stakeholders (traditional rulers, religious leaders, Civil Societies, respectable Nigerians, the media, etc) to carry the message on the significance of being vaccinated to the grass roots and all segments of the society. This is a fight for everyone.
- On behalf of His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, and the good people of our dear country Nigeria, I hereby receive the first batch of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and hand it over to the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, to ensure all frontline health workers are vaccinated against COVID-19.
- Your Excellencies, distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, I thank you very much for listening.