By Kabiru Musa
It’s apparent that, the outbreak of the coronavirus, or Covid-19, in Wuhan, China in December 2019 and its ravaging effects on countries in Asia and Europe, particularly Italy, Spain and Britain as well as the giant United States of America, had compelled the World Health Organisation to designate the disease as a global pandemic.
In fact, if America sneezes, the whole of Africa catches cold. And if the COVID-19 will hit great economies like American with these severe fatalities, what will be the fate of the third world nations like Nigeria?
It has, therefore sent a scary signal to larger Africa nay Nigeria and the urgent need for proactive approach.
Statistically, as at today, Friday, May 22, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases globally stands at 5,234,109, with 2,112,080 recoveries while 335,730 people have died due to this disease.
In Nigeria, there are 7,016 confirmed cases in virtually all the states excluding Kogi and Cross River with 211 fatalities. Lagos state remains the epicenter with 3,093 the confirmed cases followed by Kano and Katsina with 875 and 446 cases respectively. This unfortunate occurrence has forced the federal government and many other states in the country to put in place certain measures including lockdown to contain the disease and provision of palliatives to cushion the effects of the stay at home directives imposed by many states.
It is instructive to note that the remarkable and proactive measures taken by the Kebbi State Governor, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, had gone a long way to prevent the spread of the disease to Kebbi state.
Although, Kebbi state has at as today, Friday, May 22 recorded 32 confirmed cases, 11 active cases, 17 patients have been discharged while 4 people have unfortunately died.
Even before the state record a single case of the pandemic, the governor did not spare any effort to ensure that the state maintained if not zero but minimum Covid-19 status.
No sooner than the disease had hit Nigeria, particularly Lagos state, that the Bagudu administration swung into action to prevent its occurrence in the state. First, Governor Bagudu constituted the state Emergency Preparedness and Response Committee which announced a number measures against the spread of the coronavirus. While addressing a press conference in Birnin Kebbi, the state capital, the Commissioner for Health, Hon. Jafar Muhammad, said even though the state did not record any suspected case of coronavirus, the state Emergency Preparedness and Response Committee has taken drastic measures to prevent the importation of coronavirus infection into the state.
He said the measures include instituting screening of all travellers coming into the state through air and land borders in collaboration with Port Health Division of the Federal Ministry of Health. An isolation camp was also set up for quarantine of all suspected cases identified through surveillance system which was intensified at all levels.
The commissioner said community sensitization to create awareness on measures to be taken to prevent the disease transmission was ongoing alongside search of possible suspects. He called on the members of the public to individually and collectively support the government, remain calm, focused and cooperate with health providers on adherence to infection preventive measures such as positive health behaviour through practice of high standard of personal hygiene, use of protective devices such as nose mask, covering of mouth or nose during coughing or sneezing, use of alcohol-based hand rubs or soaps. The commissioner thanked Governor Bagudu for his support and commitment to healthcare service delivery in Kebbi state.
Similarly, the Kebbi state government has directed the immediate closure of all public and private schools in the state following the coronavirus pandemic.
Governor Bagudu also constituted an advisory committee to offer suggestions on how Kebbi state could manage the affairs of the state and meet its financial obligations in view of the economic impact Covid-19 is likely to have on the state. He said there was urgent need for stakeholders to advance options on the payment of salary in subsequent months if federation allocation continues to fall.
At a meeting with stakeholders, the governor expressed worry that the pandemic had already taken its toll on the world economy, especially on the oil rich countries thereby affecting Nigeria’s crude sales which would have negative impact on the state economy. Bagudu said the federal government has equally taking proactive measures over the pandemic and its effects on the economy.
He expressed delight with the measures so far taken by the State Ministry of Health to curb the menace of the pandemic. “I have been fully briefed about the measures so far taken by the Ministry of Health and I am highly convinced.
“I must therefore commend all the health workers and all stakeholders in the state because they have done an incredible job, which would be sustained,” the governor said.
Bagudu expressed happiness that people of the state have so far heeded to all the directives and health advice given to them by the health workers, saying, “they have heeded to the calls to reduce large gathering to the barest minimum.”
The Speaker, Kebbi State House of Assembly, Alhaji Samaila Abdulmumin Kamba, said the legislature would remain proactive in upholding the interest and wellbeing of the people of the state. He said the legislature would be ready for any bill from the executive for adjustment of the state budget. Cross section of the participants offered suggestions on how best the state government can reduce its running cost, cut the salary of political office holders and civil servants, diversify the state economy to reduce over dependence on federal allocation and improve tax collection, among others.
It is noteworthy that the Kebbi state government introduced e-learning programme to keep the students active rather than an outright shut down of schools as witnessed in many states. The Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education, Alhaji Magawata Aliero, said the e-learning programme was aimed at assisting the students staying at home to receive lessons on Mathematics, English Language, Physics, Civic Education, Agricultural Science and Economics. From the foregoing proactive steps to keep Kebbi safe from Covid-19, it is crystal clear that Governor Bagudu is committed to deliver the dividends of democracy to the good people of Kebbi state.
Governor Bagudu also approved the sum of N2.4 billion for the payment of gratuities to retirees.
It also underscores the fact that the electorate made a wise choice by returning Governor Bagudu for a second term which will put Kebbi state on the global map of accelerated socio-economic and political development.
Musa writes from Birnin Kebbi
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