Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio has disclosed that the Federal Government will partner with the French Government to set up Virology Centres across the Niger Delta region to address and tackle the spread of infectious diseases.


Akpabio made this known when he received the French Ambassador to Nigeria, Jerome Pasquier, on a courtesy visit to his office in Abuja.


According to the Minister, “the importance and usefulness of the Virology Centre cannot be emphasized, considering the prevalent situation presently experienced in the country and globally”.


While commending the efforts and commitment of the Federal Government is rolling out measures to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, he extended his sympathy to the French Ambassador and his country for their loss during the pandemic.


He told the French Envoy that the Niger Delta Ministry is currently seeking to engage the services of consultants who would merge the Regional and National Plan to produce a concise Master Plan that will address the infrastructural deficit, youth restiveness and socio-economic challenges in the region.


Akpabio also stressed the need to engage Soil Remediation experts to help in restoring the soil to its natural pollution-free state, which will enhance soil usefulness and prevent endemic poverty in the region, adding that the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has demonstrated its readiness to expend N90 billion for the 9 States of the Niger Delta region in its integrated Agricultural Programme to train youths in Fishery, Rabbitry, Piggery, etc.


He further assured the Ambassador that the Ministry would be prudent and transparent in any financial assistance offered by the French Government.


Responding, the French Ambassador, who commended the efforts of the Government in putting in place effective measures to control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, called for the development of home-grown vaccines that will take care of COVID-19, malaria, and any other infectious disease.


He indicated the readiness of France to co-operate with Nigeria in the production of the vaccine, suggesting that Nigeria should also collaborate with other African countries to make the COVID-19 vaccine production a reality.

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