By: Christian Alpha Conte
The Federal Government of Nigeria through the presidential steering committee has announced that effective December this year no civil servant will be allowed into their offices until and unless they can provide evidence of vaccination or a COVID-19 negative test a statement dated Wednesday, October 13, 2021read.
All tests it further notes must be taken within 72 hours and will apply to Nigeria’s foreign embassies as well as offices.
The African country joins other nations around the world whose governments are mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for civil servants.
Just last week, Canada’s Justin Trudeau, announced that civil servants who are not fully vaccinated by the end of October would be placed on unpaid leave.
Similarly, the US has also ordered all its federal workforce to be vaccinated or face sanctions.
Professor Marycelin Baba is a Medical Virologist at Nigeria’s University of Maiduguri. He said the directive was a positive step in preventing the disease from spreading further.
Speaking to the Nigerian news site PUNCH, she said: “For the first time, the federal government is right. This is a welcome development. Starting with the civil servants is commendable. From there, let them move to private organizations. This is a pandemic, and it is not just any type of outbreak,” Professor Baba said.
She added that “It is not just about one person, but the whole world. Some individuals cannot endanger our lives. Nigerians only understand the language of enforcement.”
On the contrary Olumide Akintayo, Joint Health Sector Union spokesperson said the new rules overlook the government’s failure to produce enough vaccines to cover the national population.
“How is it even possible to compel people to go for compulsory vaccination when the government has yet to make available the requisite doses?” Olumide told PUNCH.
“Whoever is coming up with this kind of policy must have a rethink. By the time you compel a group of people or all Nigerians to be vaccinated, where are you going to get all the doses needed?” Olumide asked.
Mustapha, chair of the presidential steering committee on COVID-19, had previously stated that compulsory vaccination would apply to civil servants because many are required to travel on behalf of the federal government.
Dr. Osagie Ehanire is Nigeria’s Minister of Health. He said that new coronavirus mutations in some countries meant the government would continue to monitor and respond appropriately to changes.
Nigeria currently has more than 200,000 confirmed infections and almost 3,000 deaths attributable to COVID-19. Just 2.2% of the population has received the vaccine so far, though the country continues to administer Moderna and AstraZeneca doses provided through the COVAX scheme, the country has also been slow to test for COVID-19.
According to the African news site AllAfrica, the government estimates that around 3.1 million Nigerian citizens have been tested since the first outbreak of the virus in 2020, which is less than 2% of the population.