The Department of Virology, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, on Thursday, affirmed the support of the Oyo State government to the COVID-19 Laboratory in the Department, noting that to date, the Virology Department has been supported by the state to the tune of N86.9 million.
A letter affirming the support, which was signed by Professor of Virology, Prof. David O. Olaleye, affirmed the receipt of various levels of support to the tune of $200,000 (N86.9m).
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Seyi Makinde, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, affirmed that the Department was appreciative of the support of Oyo State government in the COVID-19 containment efforts.
The statement also indicated that besides the support extended to the Department of Virology, which is being acknowledged by the Department, the state government has equally supported the University College Hospital(UCH) to the tune of N32 million.
“This brings the total support extended to the two institutions of the Federal Government to N118.9million,” the statement added.
The statement indicated that the letter dated 25 June, 2020, read: “I write to affirm the support of the Oyo State Government to the COVID-19 Laboratory in the Department of Virology, College of Medicine, UCH, Ibadan for the first six months of the emergency response to the problem.
“The approved amount totalling Eight-Six Million Naira, nine hundred thousand pairs (N86.9m) i.e $200,000 to date, channelled through the Ministry of Health, is to cover funding gaps to purchase an auto-extractor, computer for data entry, supplemental real-time PCR testing reagents, consumables, payment of Adhoc staff and allowance for some other staff, diesel, freezers for storage of specimens and courier shipment of some reagents from Europe.”
The statement also indicated that the letter cleared the air on the needless controversy emanating from the University College Hospital, Ibadan and the College of Medicine over the N118 million support provided to the UCH and the Department of Virology by the Oyo State government.
This was as the state government reiterated its earlier position that aside the N86.9 million support to the Virology Department’s COVID-19 Laboratory, it has directly supported the UCH with some medical supplies to the tune of N2 million and a N5 million revolving fund provision for treatment of Oyo State residents with COVID-19, while another N25 million worth of medical supplies have been procured and are in the process of being delivered to the Hospital by the supplier.
According to the letter, the Department of Virology, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan has been the Clinical Virology Department of the University College Hospital, Ibadan since its establishment as a Virus Research Laboratory in 1963/1964.
It will be recalled that Oyo State government had, on Wednesday, issued a statement noting that attempt to disown the Department of Virology by the UCH was self-serving, adding that the contributions of the state to support the Department was because it was directly in charge of the diagnostic aspect of the ongoing COVID-19 challenge.
Similarly, the Head of the Department of Virology, Professor Georgina Odaibo, had also on Wednesday, confirmed that the state government’s support has really helped the Department in the works on COVID-19, adding that the Department has never gone out of stock because of the support by the state.
The letter further read: “The Laboratory is one of the NCDC-certified COVID-19 diagnostic centres in the country and it is situated in the Avian Influenza Laboratory supported by the Federal Ministry of Health.
“It is also pertinent to state that the Department of Virology has been the Clinical Virology Department of the University College Hospital, Ibadan since its establishment as a Virus Research Laboratory since 1963/1964 session and later full-fledged department of the University of ibadan. Furthermore, the Department had continued to play a significant role in the area of virus surveillance and control of virus outbreaks in Nigeria.
“Specifically, the Department had worked with the Oyo State during the Yellow fever epidemics in 1986-1988 and 1991-1994 Avian Influenza 2006-2008 Pandemic HINI influenza (2009), Ebola disease (2014) and Lassa fever since 1969 to date.
“Please, let me close by thanking the Executive Governor of Oyo State. His Excellency, Governor Seyi Makinde, for his great commitment on the control of COVID-19 in the country and support to this department.
“With the best assurance and commitment of staff of the Department of Virology in the global response against COVID-19.”
Adisa maintained that while the government would want to believe that the denials by the UCH and the College of Medicine that they did not get N118 million was to set the records straight that there was no cash transaction between them and the government, it was ill-advised to try to rubbish the support of the government to the Virology Department, which belongs to both University of Ibadan and the UCH.
He said: “The Oyo State government under the leadership of Governor Makinde is always ready to partner with agencies, organisations of the Federal Government on areas that can be of assistance to the people of the state.
“We do not understand the need for the back and forth on the N118 million support provided by the state government to the UCH and the Department of Virology, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, but we would like to believe that the institutions are trying to clarify that no cash transaction took place.
“The state government has not, at any point, indicated that it transferred funds to UCH or College of Medicine; we have made it clear that the support provided were in medical supplies, equipment and in some cases funds for specific purposes. If anyone is not clear about this, it is best that such a person asks questions rather than raise unnecessary dust that can cause disaffection between the government and the people of the state.
“We will also like to state that the Oyo State government does not like to be dragged into internal politics and horse-trading within the institutions. So, to this end, we believe that the affirmation by the Department of Virology will put an end to the needless controversy on this matter, so that the state government and all its partners in the fight against COVID-19 in the state can remain focused on the important development.”