Monday, January 18, 2021

Nigeria government dismisses allegations of bribes for COVID-19 test

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The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Mr. Boss Mustapha, yesterday disclosed that the allegation that some officials of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) were charging N35,000 to collect samples for COVID-19 test is not true.

Fielding questions during the task force’s media briefing in Abuja, Mustapha said journalists should not take such stories seriously.

According to him, there are not many Nigerians who could afford such a sum for COVID-19 test, stressing that the claim could be depressing for the NCDC workers who continue to risk their lives.

“The truth about it– I know what it does to somebody who is working inside out, going around exposing himself collecting samples. That’s one of the most dangerous activities in the management of COVID-19,” he said.

“With an established patient, you already know his status, but those you are going to collect samples from, you don’t know their status. So, it calls for absolute diligence, you must be prepared and trained for it and you are just out there in the warfront not knowing what will happen to you. And some people will take delight in saying that you demand for N35,000, how many Nigerians can afford N35, 000 to take a sample?

“If it were even N1,000 or N2,000, we understand. So, next time let’s verify these stories because it does a lot of damage to the morale of the people that are out there working to keep us safe to help us navigate this very difficult process in which we have found ourselves.

“It would do us a lot of good if we find out, do a double-check to the veracity of that kind of allegation. And if you establish that it is not true, don’t even bother to ask of it, because they are in their homes now, some of them getting ready to start their night duties, some of them are currently at work and watching this. And I know as a human being what will be going on in their mind; I will leave my family, expose myself to this danger, and all I get is an allegation that I am asking for N35,000. What is N35,000 compared to the risk that they are taking?

“Mine is a passionate appeal that we are all together in this and truly today I’m a little bit sober because of the dangers that I see ahead and I refer to it in my speech.”

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