It is no longer news that the novel coronavirus that broke out around December, 2019 in Wuhan, a city in modern day China has affected almost all nations of the world with its debilitating effects with few countries as exception.
Exactly on 27th of February, 2020, Nigeria recorded her first case of the COVID-19 who was Italian expatriate that had travel history with an epicenter. This marked the genesis and subsequent explosion of the disease in the country.
As at today, 34 states of the federation had recorded its case(s) including the FCT with the exception of Kogi and Cross River states. A situation which has called for concern for the duo states because of the predicted absence of testing kits and the presumed state conspiracy of outrightly denounce the existence of patients with the said virus in the state.
With the growing concerns and an admission of holistic approach to flatten the curve of the novel Coronavirus, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Presidential Task Force (PTF) paid Kogi State a visit to ascertain the level of preparedness of the state in the fight against Corona virus and in a way provide technical support through expert engagement. Though, the State is yet to officially record COVID-19 case.
According to statement signed by Kogi State government Chief Press Secretary, our visitors came from the epicenter and from the daily briefing we receive from the NCDC and PTF we were made to know that a lot of their officials and doctors have been infected by the virus.
The government argued that, “Since they have come now, we are going to work with them but after observing their own rules. So it’s either they go into the quarantine for fourteen days to ascertain their status, we are Covid-19 free in the state and anyone coming to help us, the status must be known”.
The statement read in part: “Why are we doing this to our people, is it a crime that Mr. President want the country to be self sufficient (food production)? People can no longer go to farm. We have a rice mill here but can’t get the paddy anymore to process. All rice Mills in Nigeria are shutdown because of lack of paddy. We are lockdown and when it is over what will happen? Our people can’t afford three square meals anymore because the price of food has gone up and at the end of the pandemic our borders would be forced to open for all kinds of food to come in. Nigeria will become dumping ground for all products again.
“Why are we doing all these to ourselves? People can no longer even visit the hospitals because doctors are being reported to be dying, health workers are getting scared, people are scared to go to the hospital as there are nobody to treat them which might result to death, not as a result of Covid-19 but fear. People are developing high blood pressure.
“Where are we headed? why are we causing hardship to our people, we were elected to serve the people we should be courageous enough to tell COVID-19 to return back to where it came from, that it has no place in our country.
“I hear that you will make money if your state have COVID-19, if that is true I am not interested in making money with the life of my people, I am elected to protect”.
Bello’s disposition, as succinctly demonstrated, speak volume of Nigeria COVID-19 case. The stance provoked question like; is there COVID-19 as rightly claimed by many states? If they are, are they all genuine and deviod of political manipulation?
Mr Bello said: “I hear that you will make money if your State have”. He also lamented that people are using it to frustrate Mr. President efforts. An allegation that requires a thorough investigation to determine the validity or otherwise of the claim.
In spite of the above premise that have necessitated array of questions earlier, does Kogi State maintain financial buoyancy, IGR and statutory allocation that weigh higher and better than her Lagos, Kano and River state counterparts? Emphatically No. These aforementioned States are economic hub of the country. Are they happy to shut down their economies activities and order their people to remain indoor all in the name of a purported amounts that might not be up to their IGR? No.
If we are to agree with the Kogi State Governor, why is President Muhammadu Buhari doing enough to ensure every living in Nigeria is well fed? Why did he mandated Minister of Humanitarian and Disaster Control to distribute palliatives across the 36 states and FCT? This project alone worth trillions of naira, are they saying Federal government is carving a niche for parochial usage from our common patrimony?
It is pertinent to painstakingly state here, that, Kogites hardly come to terms with the reality and neither have a sober reflection of the dire situation they found themselves. Your Governor arrogantly made such a fictitious allegations and despotically rebuked the team sent to provide technical services, and the best reaction we could ascribe to the unfortunate scenario was to throng on social media to make a villain a hero, praising and commending him as if he has transformed the state to a mini paradise or constructed the ever looted ‘Ganaja flyover road’.
But, before captaining your train of celebration further, remember what happened to Kano and Nasarawa States. They were once boastful with such statement and recalcitrant to lockdown orders in their respective domain. Today, they are running helplessly to NCDC and PTF for substantial aid, but they are not given commensurate attention like what is obtainable in Lagos and Kaduna States.
How sure are you that Kogi State is COVID-19 free? Do they have testing kits? Have they conducted any test? How do you know that Confluence State is COVID-19 free? Our earnest prayer is to God to spare Kogi State from this virus and the impending catastrophe. This is because a little strike from Coronavirus will be disastrous as we live in an interlocking and interwoven society, where families are largely interconnected.
Ideally, it is erroneous at this critical time to celebrate the Governor’s reaction who technically sent NCDC and PTF out of State. If you do not believe the veracity of the existence of COVID-19, why do you lock your State down at the first pronouncement? Why don’t you leave your border porous up till this moment? Why following their guidelines as a measures to curtail the spread of Corona virus in the state?
Kogi State government has to make a hay while the sun shine. The ugly trends in Kano and other core Northern states should not be duplicated in the state. Our people has suffered years of bad governance that has culminated into economic stampede with its debilitating effects of poverty and starvation, sometime suicide on patriots that has loose hope in the promise of the state. The unhindered coming of Coronavirus to Kogi State will be a deliberate annihilation of the masses.
Let’s take heed when necessary.
– Ojimaojo Y. Abubakar is an indigene of Kogi State.