The Kogi State government on Tuesday said it would not watch and allow the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 create panic in the state and scare away investors.
The government said it may be forced to take legal action against the PTF and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) if these bodies continue to harass and de-market the state against genuine investors.
It also said reports that Governor Yahaya Bello was doing nothing about fighting COVID-19 because it believed it didn’t exist were false.
Kingsley Fanwo, the Kogi State Commissioner for Information and Communications, who disclosed this to Daily Independent, said the PTF – in concert with the NCDC – were desperate to create a picture of health crisis in the state.
The PTF had on Monday declared Kogi State a ‘high risk state’ for allegedly refusing to acknowledge the existence of COVID-19, not reporting testing, and not having isolation centres. It also warned Nigerians to be wary of visiting the state.
But speaking with Daily Independent, Fanwo said the statement by the PTF was an attack on the people of Kogi State by attempting to infect the state with fear, a situation which, he said, the government would not accept.
He said having emerged the investment destination in Nigeria in the third quarter of 2020, based on the report by the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), the PTF was desperate to cripple the economy of Kogi State by raising false alarm that it had a high risk of COVID-19 cases.
“We very much believe their intent was to ensure investors are scared from coming to the state.
“Despite their unreliable figures, Kogi emerged the investment destination of Nigeria in the last quarter of 2020.
“They felt embarrassed and the best way to hit back is to create a picture of health crisis in the state.”
On efforts being made by the state government to fight the disease, Fanwo said Kogi State was the first to procure thousands of face masks which it distributed free of charge to residents of the state.
He also said Kogi State had done more sensitisation on the disease more than any other state across the country.
“We were the first state to procure face masks in thousands and distribute to all the LGAs.
“We were the first state to set up a Squadron Team to combat the spread of the pandemic. We set up isolation centres with state-of-the-art equipment.
“We have done sensitisation more than any other state. So, if we don’t believe COVID-19 exists, we won’t be doing all we are doing to ensure it doesn’t ravage our state.
“What we said and are still saying is that COVID-19 is not worth all the marketing going on just for a few to make billions.
“That we do not have to suffer innocent Nigerians while a few smile to the banks, that we can’t afford a deeper recession as a country.
“The cases reported in Kogi were fraudulent. So, how do we believe the NCDC?
“They have given us every reason to see them as people not working in the interest of public good. Their data is unreliable and they are inconsistent.
“We are fine in Kogi and do not accept their scaremongering. It was an attempt to intimidate our state, scare investors away and cause unnecessary panic.
“It is an attack on the good people of Kogi State and we will defend our people against the merchants of fear and despair.
“We won’t submit the lives and psychology of our people to those who have turned COVID-19 to business.
“The governor had advised a robust synergy between science and common sense; medicine and governance, in order to combat the pandemic.
“Politicians have hijacked the process for their selfish gains. We shouldn’t play politics with it.
“We won’t sit by and watch the enemies of Nigeria infect Kogi with their fear and marketing.
“We will not hesitate to seek legal redress against them. Kogi is safe. Investors are coming in. We are improving our infrastructure and doing more for the people.
“What we won’t do is to join hands with them to push our people into pain and poverty. Enough is enough. We should stop punishing the poor and defenceless unnecessarily.
“Governor Yahaya Bello will not change his position on this. Why must you change from the lane of truth and integrity?
“They are the people battling with their conscience. They should know that poverty is dangerous.
“They should desist from oppressing the people of this country. They should stop destroying the good intentions of Mr. President.
“Anyone can aspire to be vice president, but we must not use our position to misrepresent facts and de-market our nation.
“Kogi dey kampe and unmoved by their reckless, irresponsible, and unscientific claims. Nigerians do not believe the NCDC anymore.
“They have closed feed back avenue on their Twitter. They are afraid of the truth.
“The samples they collected from Kogi, where are they? They are deceiving this nation. We won’t join that, even in the face of threat and intimidation,” the commissioner said.