All 41 athletes and 35 officials from Kogi State in the 20th National Sports Festival have tested negative to COVID-19.
Kogi State government had persistently maintained that the state is COVID-19 free despite reports by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) that it had some cases.
The state contingent, who arrived at the festival on Saturday, got their COVID-19 test results early Sunday.
They were reportedly subjected to a lengthy wait under the elements.
Observers noted that the suspicion from the NCDC officials was high and not unconnected with Kogi State’s official stance on the coronavirus disease, which has killed millions around the world and 2, 058 in Nigeria.
Recall that in the early days of the pandemic when panic measures were taken by many world leaders, the Kogi Governor, Yahaya Bello, was caught on video declaring, “We ain’t got no COVID.”
He dismissed reports that he either had the disease or that it had reached his state.
The video, which subsequently went viral, was said to have set the pace for the governor’s controversial positions on the disease over the next year.
Governor Bello also refused to institute a universal mask mandate and would not join in the lengthy lockdowns adopted by his colleagues at the NCDC’s insistence.
He kept his state and economy open throughout and this set him on a collision course severally with the NCDC, the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19, and other bodies in the coalition managing the disease for the country.
A top health official at the sports fiesta in Benin City said it was against this background that the closer-than-usual spotlight was put on the Kogi State contingent.
“The 100 per cent negative COVID-19 result for Kogi contingents in the ongoing sports festival in Benin is now raising questions. Could Governor Yahaya Bello have been right all along? Should we have listened more to him?” she queried.