The current fight against the deadly Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) is a global battle that has assumed multi-faceted approach. There are those medical experts and researchers who are exploring the possibility of a preventive vaccine that can be used to safe-guard people from being infected by the virus in the first instance. And there are also those of them who are developing a curative drug that can heal those people already infected. Another set of scientists are sniffing the viral world to ascertain the origin of the disease so as to provide a scientific platform for the development of both preventive and curative drugs and vaccines.
While the rest of the world is busy looking for more immediate solutions, the Nigerian National Assembly is said to be rushing a Bill through the Lower House on making a law that will make it compulsory for all Nigerians to be vaccinated against the COVID-19. The Guardian newspaper reported on its online platform on 5th May, 2020, that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila presented the Bill on the floor of the House.
The question all well-meaning Nigerians should be asking our legislators is: what is of immediate concern to the Legislators? The quest for solutions or the making of anticipatory laws? Is there any known vaccine for COVID-19 as of today? Who developed it? Where was it tested and approved for human use? To make a law for vaccines not yet developed is akin to putting the cart before the horse. That is the way our leaders act most of the time. That is the Nigerian factor even in critical global issues such as COVID-19.
Nigerians are speaking against the bill and we wish to add our own voice to it. Investigation into the issue has revealed that the proposed law will violate Article 6 of the UNESCO 2005 Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights, which proclaimed that no one should be vaccinated against their consent. In another publication by a UK-based Nigerian, Mr. Arinze Ekwem, he stated categorically that what is even proposed to be coming is not really a conventional vaccine but that “the technology being used to create a vaccine for Corona Virus will not bring a weakened form of the virus to the vaccine recipient. It will bring a piece of genetic code (mRNA) which will insert itself into recipient's cells and hijack the cells to produce antibodies or what else it is programmed to express in the same way a virus hijacks the cell to replicate itself. But this pathway has the potential of tampering with the human being in a fundamental way. It raises the issue of tampering with the genetic infrastructure of the human race”.
Nobody should go to sleep over any vaccine being brought into the country under controversial and questionable circumstances.
In sum, we are worried like most Nigerians are, that there may be something more than meets the eye in this rush to tie the hands of hapless Nigerians before a questionable and controversial COVID-19 vaccine is finally brought into Nigeria. The writer of the Guardian article quoted above had asked “In whose interest is Gbajabiamila working?” We will equally like to ask, is this all about getting COVID-19 support dollars? Nigerian lives cannot be sacrificed on the altar of dollars. Each of our lives is given by God, not by Government. We refused to be traded like commercial commodities.
By Raymond Manu Lamai and
For: CSMN Media Team
15th May, 2020