From Adetutu Folasade-Koyi, Abuja

The Federal Government has assured that the 2023 general elections will be held as scheduled on February 25 and March 11 this year.

It dismissed the concerns by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that security challenges across the country could lead to the cancellation or postponement of the polls.

Information and Culture Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, gave the assurance in Abuja, yesterday, at the 17th edition of the PMB scorecard series (2015-2023).

The minister said INEC was working with security agencies to ensure peaceful conduct of the polls and that there was no cause for alarm.

He said: “Let me seize this opportunity to respond to inquiries from the media over a widely-circulated report credited to an INEC official, that the 2023 general election face a serious threat of cancellation due to insecurity. The position of the Federal Government remains that the 2023 elections will be held as planned. Nothing has happened to change that position. We are aware that INEC is working with the security agencies to ensure that the elections are successfully held across the country.

“The security agencies have also continued to assure Nigerians that they are working tirelessly to ensure that the elections are held in a peaceful atmosphere. Therefore, there is no cause for alarm.”

Meanwhile , Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, in his presentation said with the resurgence of COVID-19, government has concluded plans to vaccinate unvaccinated travellers entering Nigeria at the airports.

He, however, acknowledged that the OMICRON variant has been in Nigeria since 2021 and dismissed fears of new variants of COVID-19 virus in the country.

On the migration of medical doctors and skilled workers in the health sector from Nigeria, Ehanire described it as a global issue that affects even developed countries, citing Ghana, Gambia, Egypt, Turkey, UK as some of the countries losing medical doctors and others in the medical field.

He said: “The high workforce mobility of health workers is global. Doctors are moving, nurses are moving everywhere…It’s market forces working globally; even in Egypt, Turkey, they are losing doctors. This movement is global. Secondly, we are doing everything we can to improve the conditions of service, to stop them entirely is not going to work because it’s a global issue…”

On vaccination of visitors into Nigeria, who have not been vaccinated against Corona virus, officials of the Health ministry at the event said: “The variants abroad are also here but we are monitoring We are paying attention to what is happening elsewhere. However, in terms of the OMICRON variant circulating in Nigeria, it’s been circulating in other parts of the world and even in Nigeria, since 2021.

“Cases have gone up in the America’s and Europe, due to winter. We’re keeping an eye on OMICRON sub-variants but what we know that in many of the countries we’ve looked at; South Africa, Kenya, Ethiopia because Nigerians pass through these countries, frequently, there’s no increase in COVID cases…If you’ve gotten your second dose, go and get the booster. You are protected if you’ve got the required number of COVID vaccinations.”