Nigeria to ban unvaccinated civil servants from their offices

By on 15/10/2021 | Updated on 27/01/2022
Unvaccinated civil servants in Nigeria will be denied access to federal government offices from December this year. Photo by Kabusa16 via Wikimedia Commons

Civil servants in Nigeria will not be allowed into their offices unless they can prove they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19 or show a negative test for the disease, the country’s presidential steering committee announced this week.

The new rules take effect from December this year. All tests must be taken within 72 hours and will apply to Nigeria’s foreign embassies as well as offices.

Nigeria joins a growing number of countries around the world whose governments are mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for civil servants. Last week, the Canadian government, led by Justin Trudeau, announced that civil servants who are not fully vaccinated by the end of October would be placed on unpaid leave. The US has also ordered all its federal workforce to be vaccinated or face sanctions.

Professor Marycelin Baba, a medical virologist at Nigeria’s University of Maiduguri, said the directive was a positive step in preventing the disease spreading further.

Speaking to the Nigerian news site PUNCH, she said: “For the first time, the federal government is right. This is a welcome development. Starting with the civil servants is commendable. From there, let them move to private organizations.”

“This is a pandemic, and it is not just any type of outbreak,” she added. “It is not just about one person, but the whole world. Some individuals cannot endanger our lives. Nigerians only understand the language of enforcement.”

Slow progress

Nigeria currently has more than 200,000 confirmed infections and almost 3,000 deaths attributable to COVID-19. Just 2.2% of the population has received the vaccine so far, though the country continues to administer Moderna and AstraZeneca doses provided through the COVAX scheme.

The country has also been slow to test for COVID-19. According to the African news site AllAfrica, the government estimates that around 3.1 million Nigerian citizens have been tested since the first outbreak of the virus in 2020, which is less than 2% of the population.

Joint Health Sector Union spokesperson Olumide Akintayo, said the new rules overlook the government’s failure to produce enough vaccines to cover the national population.

“How is it even possible to compel people to go for compulsory vaccination when the government has yet to make available the requisite doses?” he told PUNCH.

“Whoever is coming up with this kind of policy must have a rethink. By the time you compel a group of people or all Nigerians to be vaccinated, where are you going to get all the doses needed?”

Boss Mustapha, chair of the presidential steering committee on COVID-19, had previously stated that compulsory vaccination would apply to civil servants because many are required to travel on behalf of the federal government.

“An appropriate service wide advisory/circular will be issued to guide the process,” he said in a statement reported by Reuters.  

Nigeria’s minister of health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, added that new coronavirus mutations in some countries meant the government would continue to monitor and respond appropriately to changes.

About Jack Aldane

Jack is a British journalist, cartoonist and podcaster. He graduated from Heythrop College London in 2009 with a BA in philosophy, before living and working in China for three years as a freelance reporter. After training in financial journalism at City University from 2013 to 2014, Jack worked at Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters before moving into editing magazines on global trade and development finance. Shortly after editing opinion writing for UnHerd, he joined the independent think tank ResPublica, where he led a media campaign to change the health and safety requirements around asbestos in UK public buildings. As host and producer of The Booking Club podcast – a conversation series featuring prominent authors and commentators at their favourite restaurants – Jack continues to engage today’s most distinguished thinkers on the biggest problems pertaining to ideology and power in the 21st century. He joined Global Government Forum as its Senior Staff Writer and Community Co-ordinator in 2021.

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