Anxiety has continued to mount over Kano State, especially its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, believed to be responsible for the growing number of deaths recorded daily in the state.
People of the state are now living in fear of the unknown, many have started to leave the ancient city in droves and may be inadvertently spreading the virus to neighbouring states.
Relatedly, yesterday the federal government escalated its containment efforts by opening additional three mobile testing centres to strengthen the war against the virus in the state.
Curiously however, Governor Abdulahi Ganduje, has despite the disturbing situation in the state, relaxed the lockdown order for Ramadan purposes, with increased deaths in the last 24 hours, including the passing of the Emir of Rano, Alhaji Tafida Abubakar Ila and the state’s Head of Communications, UNICEF, Malam Rabiu Musa. These have further heightened fear of residents. Particularly worrisome many of the almajiris who have left the city have tested positive to the coronavirus.
Also, in obedience to Islamic injunctions, which prescribe immediate burial for Muslims, the cause of a majority of the deaths have been largely unknown, fuelling speculations between some unknown and unverified illness and the ravaging COVID-19 because testing is not being done.
But the Chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, yesterday, said the current spate of community spread of COVID-19 could have been averted had the country shut down its borders earlier than it did in late March.
Fayemi, who said the situation has though not affected the commendable response of the Nigerian governments at all levels to the challenge posed by the pandemic, however hinted that the numbers would not stop climbing until sometime in June or July, when the curve would begin to flatten.
COVID-19: The State of States’ Response (1)
Yesterday night at 11. 55pm NCDC disclosed that 220 new cases had been confirmed bringing the total cases so far to 2388, while those discharged stood at 385 and deaths so far stood at 85. Lagos top yesterday confirmed cases with 62 new cases, followed be FCT with 52 cases, Kaduna 31, Sokoto 13, Kebbi 10, Yobe 9, Borno 6, Edo 5, Bauchi 5, Gombe 4, Enugu 4, Oyo 4, Zamfara 3, Nasarawa 2, Osun 2, Ebonyi 2, Kwara 2, Kano 2, Plateau 2.
This notwithstanding, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha has said the battle against COVID-19 was winnable but with the full cooperation and support of the Nigerian people by adhering to all the safety rules and protocols.
In the same spirit, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, yesterday, while participating in an annual event, The Platform, hosted by Pastor Poju Oyemade and which held its first online edition in lieu of the COVID-19 challenge, said Nigeria and Nigerians would get through this phase together, much stronger economically and as a people because of their resilience.
Not unexpectedly, however, President Muhammadu Buhari, while celebrating the World Press Freedom Day today, recognised and commended the Nigerian media “for the good work they have done, and are still doing,” as the country intensifies the fight against COVID-19.
But commenting on the state of the nation as far as the battle against the virus is concerned, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Saturday, drew attention of the nation to the situation in Kano, which he referred to as a litmus test in the concerted efforts to defeat Covid-19.
Also, in a move that showed increasing capacity in the fight against Coronavirus, the Edo State government claimed it had screened over 40,000 persons in the state for Covid-19, albeit leveraging a strategic partnership with private hospitals, clinics and pharmacies to complement the screening exercise ongoing across designated government centres.
The governor also assured the public that the more they abide by the lockdown order, the more the government would be relaxing the directive as it monitors the situation.
Unfortunately, the governor is believed not to have paid deserving attention to the increasing number of deaths in the state, which observers believed were caused by COVID-19, even though the state refused to admit it was true.
The Emir of Rano, who died yesterday at a hospital in the state, passed away at the age of 74.
Turakin Rano and House of Representatives Member of Rano, Kibiya and Bunkure, Alhaji Kabir Alhassan Rururm, confirmed the death
Rururm said the late emir, who was survived by 17 children and two wives, would be buried this evening (yesterday) in the emirate.
Son of the Kaduna State governor, Bello El-Rufai, took to his Twitter handle @B_El-RUFAI to mourn the late monarch, when he wrote: “May the gentle soul of the Emir of Rano, Alhaji Tafida Abubakar, rest in peace. May Allah SWT grant his family the fortitude to bear this loss. It’s tragic news everywhere we turn.”
The UNICEF representative, also away at the age of 60 and his death was confirmed, according NAN, by his son, Musa Rabiu.
“My dad died at about 3.am on Saturday, after battling sickness for a few days. Although we noticed symptoms we suspected to be of Coronavirus, the result of the test conducted is not out yet.
“A week ago, he complained of a sore throat and malaria, but after a few days, of medication, he became normal. A few days later, he complained that he was finding it difficult to breathe.
“He also complained that no matter how short he walked, he lost his breath. So, he was taken to the National Orthopaedic Hospital in Dala, on Friday, where he gave up.”
He was immediately buried according to Islamic rites.
Shedding more light on what the country could have done differently, to stem the climbing numbers, Fayemi explained that, “We could have shut down earlier. Everything that came in came from abroad. We didn’t get Coronavirus here.
“So, if we had shut down, say like March 1, the situation could have been different. Malawi that is said to have the best record now in terms of Covid-19 shut down since February.
“So, between February 27 and March 29 is a pretty long time of traffic into Nigeria across all the airlines. And by the time we shut down the borders, we already had too many in,” he explained, insisting the government wasn’t doing badly still in the management of the situation.
Fayemi’s views, however, tallied with those of his Lagos State counterpart, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who said days ago that the delayed closure of the country’s borders, seaport, and airports, including the failure of returnees to self-isolate, caused the spread of COVID-19. He spoke this during an Instalive interview with CNN on Wednesday.
Apart from shutting down the borders a bit late, another factor Fayemi reckoned could have accounted for the high number of new cases was the testing capacity of the country, which made it difficult to ascertain the number of carriers and non-carriers.
“After that, our testing capacity is also limited. We have five testing centres across the country. There are two in Lagos; one in Abuja; one in Ede in Osun and one in Irua, Edo. That’s all. But that also affected, because we couldn’t tell who had it or did not.”
Importantly, the Ekiti governor said, evidence suggested that, “The number is still on the upswing and will continue till June/July. That’s why the inter-state boundary shutdown is more important as against the intra-state approach.”
Fayemi said it was the same thinking that informed NGF’s suggestions to the president before his last address to the nation on the things that needed to be done, noting that the president bought into all their ideas and adopted them.
On his part, the SGF, Mustapha, while soliciting cooperation with the confidence that the battle was winnable said, “We’re not losing the battle and doing all we can. But the battle is not certain. However, as long as we have the cooperation and support of the Nigerian people, we’ll flatten the curve.
“And what do we need to flatten the curve? Observing physical distancing, wearing facemasks and staying safe at home except it is an essential trip that needs to be made. We must understand that this is an uncharted terrain and there’s nothing other than taking it a step at a time.
“We’ll get on top of this. I have no doubt. The prediction is that it would continue for a long time until we find a vaccine or able to build immunity. But, for now, let’s join hands together. There’s been a major disruption in our lives and we must cooperate to defeat Covid-19.”