There have been criticisms and speculations in Zamfara State that the federal government intends to make the vaccination compulsory considering its effort to inoculate the population against COVID-19 using the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Although the Zamfara State government has not made any official statement regarding the exercise, there are insinuations among residents as many bluntly refuse to be vaccinated
It was reported that the exercise has begun in many parts of the state especially in the state capital but many say they were forced to participate in the exercise against their will.
A businesswoman named Mary said she operates her business in a plaza owned by the federal government and it was made compulsory for everyone there to be vaccinated.
“I want to tell you now that the whole plaza was put under lock and key so that everyone must participate in the exercise” she lamented.
“Everyone that owns a shop there was forced to pay the sum of N2,000 each. They only gave us face masks and receipts to acknowledge our payments”
Mary informed that the officials threatened to lock the shops of those who refused to participate in the vaccination exercise or pay the levied N2,000, pointing out that the exercise should be free of charge if the government actually wants to help.
“The federal government was quick to initiate the Oxford-Astra Zeneca vaccine but they could not initiate vaccine against banditry that bedevils the entire state” She criticised
According to her, it became compulsory because if one refuses to abide by their rule he or she would lose his or her shop and would be jobless.
“Actually I did not want to participate but it has become very compulsory. There are so many people doing their businesses without tension because they have their own shops or that they are operating in shops that belong to private individuals”
But when contacted, a public commentator, Alhaji Ahmed Bakare said the federal government took a very wrong decision of making the vaccination compulsory instead of educating people on the advantages.
Ahmed explained that many Muslims believe that the vaccination was against Islamic tenets, saying that the federal government ought to convince them of the importance of the vaccination rather than forcing it against their will or religion.
“The Federal Government did not make extensive public enlightenment campaign before telling people to participate, knowing fully well that many people are unlettered”
It is not clear though if the money collected from the shop owners was payment for receiving the vaccine or for other purposes as there were no government officials readily available to clarify that.