The federal government’s effort to support Kogi State in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic has failed, the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, said on Friday.
Mr Ehanire, while speaking at the daily Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 briefing, said the team sent to the state returned to Abuja without accomplishing its mission.
He said new efforts will be made to engage Kogi authorities for a resolution of differences.
“We tried to send a team of the Ministry of Health and the NCDC into Kogi yesterday but there were some differences there to processes,” he said. “This will mean that we need to re-engage the state governor again and work with him and his team to create the conditions to which the Ministry of Health and the NCDC can complete their job.”
Kogi is one of the two states yet to confirm any case of the virus since the country recorded its index case in February. The other state is Cross River. Both states are believed to be discouraging tests for people with symptoms of COVID-19.
On Thursday, a delegation comprising officials of NCDC and the Department of Hospital Services of the Federal Ministry of Health had to flee the state for fear of being quarantined by the Kogi State Government.
The delegation, which set out on the mission to ascertain the claim by the state to be COVID-19 free and to boost its testing capacity, was reportedly not received with open arms.
The Kogi State Government earlier alleged that there is a plot by unnamed persons to ensure Kogi records cases of the virus
The North-central state, surrounded by states with confirmed cases of the virus, is engrossed in battle of wits with federal officials over its claim of having no case of the virus.
The state government, in an earlier statement, said it will not manufacture cases to satisfy the expectations of the unnamed health officials.
The doctors’ association in the state expressed concern over the refusal to test suspected cases of the virus.
As of Thursday night, Nigeria has recorded 3526 cases of the virus in 34 states and the FCT. Of these, 601 have recovered and discharged and 107 deaths recorded.
Mr Ehanire said an agreement was reached with the state governor before sending in the delegations.
“The agreement we had with them after discussions with the Governors (Kogi and Cross River) is that we should send a delegation to the states just to validate the facts,” he said. “Of course, we need that for our national records and to be able to report to the world what the situation is in our country because by now the whole world knows that we do not have any record from these two states.”
He noted that the delegation will be sent to Cross River next week for the same purpose.
Meanwhile, the Director-General of the NCDC, Chikwe Ihekweazu, said the assistance rendered to the state was not appreciated.
“You can only offer help where the help is wanted. Yesterday we offered that help but it wasn’t in a place where the help could be accepted.
“Unfortunately, that is what happened last night. The reality is that we have had a great relationship with Kogi.
“We have supported Kogi State in every possible way. It is one of the first states that has an Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) supported by the NCDC.
“I think in the long term, the purpose of our existence is to support the states. They have the primary responsibility of the health security in their state,” he said.