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Opinion: Challenges of taming COVID-19 in Nigeria



Opinion: Challenges of taming COVID-19 in Nigeria

Muhammadu Buhari

By Kayode Abdulazeez 

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus and currently ravaging almost all the countries of the world with serious efforts by experts to come up with acceptable vaccine to quelled the deadly virus.

That highly transmitted disease, which originated from Wuhan, China but eventually spread across many states in country and imported to other countries of the world by uninformed travellers and turned to become a global pandemic.

It is pathetic to see the rate at which the virus spread so fast across continents of the world after it was confirmed by an experts that the virus itself is immobile, its spread rests absolutely in the hand of human being. The virus as disease can only be transferred to a fellow human being through an infected person.

Ordinarily, the above research work and generally acceptable fact that the virus is immobile is enough for us to be careful about spreading of the virus through unnecessary movement from one point to the others at this critical period. But lack of proactiveness on the part of the government before it get its way into Nigeria and uncooperative attitudes of citizens towards efforts of government in curtailing the spread of the virus was not impressive and as a result, the virus eventually penetrated into many communities.

Although, lack of cooperation on the part of citizens towards stay at home orders of the Federal and some State Governments could not be separated from the level of poverty in the country because the excuse on the lips of many people for disobeying the order was that they were feeding from their daily earnings and life would be more hard for them if they don’t go out on daily basis to find what to eat.

Perhaps, that lamentation alone was responsible for distribution of palliatives measures by the governments, corporate organisations and many individuals to the vulnerable people in the country before government now started forceful enforcement of stay at home order by the Federal and some State governments.

No doubt, the country failure to tame the virus was largely caused by the government at the center due to how they failed to shutdown all the international Airports and major land Borders in the country after they have been informed about the existence of the Coronavirus in almost all the developed countries they used to travel to and how fast the virus can be in terms of spreading through any of the infected human being to anyone they have close physical contact with and yet they decided not to shutdown the county entry points due to reason best know to them until the virus eventually imported into the country.

Accepted, the mistakes have been made. What remains is the way forward to prevent catastrophe of the mistakes for the interest of the commoners that could be heavily hit if the virus eventually get to their midst. Minding the poor conditions of the country health sector.

Finally, Coronavirus got its way into many communities in the country, among the vulnerable Nigerians and was spreading faster than many people could imagine, most especially within Almajiris people in the Northern part of the country

This category of people “Almajiris” are known to be nomadic “mobile” in nature. They are ignorant of laws and orders in the country, they are not selective in terms of settlement place, what determined where many of them settled “state or town” is largely based on accommodating attitudes of citizens of that town and their deep pocket in terms of giving alms.

After all, Nigeria Governors need not to be told at this critical time, that fighting the Coronavirus pandemic in the country should be collective efforts, as an educated fellows that have been informed about the rate and manner in which the virus travels, considering the unrestricted movement of people from one state to the other if not until now that such movement was pronounced illegal due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus in the country. In reality, we all know that it can not be totally stopped due to porous entry points into many states.

Opinion: Challenges of taming COVID-19 in Nigeria

In truth, some states expected to show more concerns and be more proactive in fighting the pandemic due to the level of illiteracy and rate of poverty in their lands. Northern State Governors are in mind, it is expected that they talk to theirselves and realise that deportation of Almajiris from their residential states to their so-called state of origin was not the right way to fight the Coronavirus pandemic and instead they should have looked inward to other means of keeping all residents in their various states safe and prevent communities spread of the virus.

Now, the side effect of their action and inaction is fast showing and causing more devastation to the fight against the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic in the country.

In recent time, Police, Navy, Civil defence and other security agencies have been intercepting lorries, trucks loaded with hundreds of suspected Almajiris across various state borders in the country, most especially South/West and South/East States trying to crossover for greener pasture, running away from victimisation as a result of operation deportation of Almajiris to their state of origin.

For instance; Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu was on 5th of May 2020, in a video that went viral intercepted a truck loaded with Cows with young people, that said could not speak other language than Hausa hiding at back of those Cows to beat security agencies on the road to crossover to Abia state.

According to the head of Abia State Homeland Security, Mr. Dan Okoli, said The intercepted truck loaded with Cows and young people, including the truck driver, could not speak any language other than Hausa, so it was difficult for them to be interrogated and they were turned back to where they were coming from and only allowed Cows to pass”

He, further explained that, he received a report from his officials that another of such truck with about 30 youth inside was prevented from entering the state at a night before that particular day.

We could recalled that Osun State government recently lamented about influx of Almajiris of Hausa extraction into that state and vow to deport them back into their various states.

In a similar development, on Thursday 7, May 2020, the Spokesperson of the Kwara State Technical Committee on COVID-19 pandemic, Rafiu Ajakaye while announcing fresh five positive cases of Coronavirus, confirmed that those people came from quarantined travellers alleged to be coming from Sokoto/Kebbi axis and intercepted by security personnel on the expressway.

According to him “We are sad to note that these five new cases came from the 28 travellers from Sokoto/Kebbi axis that were intercepted by the DSS at Oko Olowo area (Ilorin) and were instantly quarantined before they could mix with the population. Going forward, anyone who crosses the border to Kwara State in defiance of the inter-state lockdown directive would be turned back to wherever they were coming from, no matter at what time of the day.”

No enmity! Many of those state governors that were seen to be outspoken about the influx of “Almajiris” into their states and territories were doing so in order to protect their citizens against contacting the virus and largely to keep it at controllable level in the case of those that already have it.

The above and many more unreported similar stories should be enough for Norther Governors to look inward  and intensify efforts on sensitisation campaigns against Coronavirus pandemic and educate Almajiris on the danger which the virus poses in local languages and further develop a strategy to empower those category of people with decent work so as to make them valuable members of the society.

Kayode Abdulazeez is a practising journalist.

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