Sultan wants Nigerians to query COVID-19 vaccines before they arrive the country
The Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, on Wednesday called on Nigerians to ask questions about COVID-19 vaccines before the government brings them into the country.
According to the Sultan, who spoke at a sensitisation programme on COVID-19 vaccines for Muslim scholars and Imams in Abuja, such questions would help authorities provide answers.
He said: “What we will take away from this interactive session is so important, because it will help us convince the people of the need to take the COVID-19 vaccine or not. I believe we cannot force people to take vaccines.
“For us as Muslims, we know that knowledge is very important, and we know that Islam was founded on knowledge. The vaccines are not yet in Nigeria but it is an opportunity to bring up questions and fears about the vaccines so that the authorities will offer answers and solutions.”
The Sultan, who noted that the coordination and partnership of northern traditional and religious leaders helped to overcome polio, noted that the same partnership would also help with COVID-19.
He said further: “When the Almighty Allah brought me to this position in 2006, we had very serious cases of polio in Nigeria.
“The then Minister of Health, Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin, approached me that he wants to use traditional rulers to sensitise the people. I said, ‘It’s okay… we want to see healthy communities.
“That was how we picked a senior traditional ruler from each of the 19 Northern states and the FCT, and set up the Northern Traditional Rulers Committee on Polio. It was the work of that committee that was able to give us the polio-free certification after 13 years.
“Such is the importance of traditional leaders. But traditional rulers cannot do much without religious leaders. Any monarch who is not close to religious leaders is not a good leader. A collaboration between the traditional and religious institutions gave us the victory over polio not coercion.”
According to him, the emergence of COVID-19 vaccine was trailed by negative conspiracy theories, stressing that truth and adequate knowledge were necessary to dispel the lies and half-truths.
“People talk of conspiracy theories such as that the COVID-19 vaccine is meant to kill us. But my take is that if a vaccine was meant to kill us, will anybody wait for the COVID-19 vaccine before killing us? We have been consuming soft drinks and other medicines that are imported into the country. If any foreigner wants to kill us, there are more than a million ways to do so.
“The vaccines are free. You are not going to pay for it. But to take it is your choice. How? You have to find out the truth about the vaccine yourself. How do you find out the truth? By seeking knowledge. How? By communicating with the right people”, he said.
In his own contribution at the event, the Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, revealed that any COVID-19 vaccine that would be brought into the country must be certified by the National Agency for Food Administration and Control (NAFDAC) before administration.