From Maduabuchi Nmeribeh, Kano
Indeed, the resurgence of Corona Virus pandemic, christened the “the Second Wave of COVID-19” took the world by the storm. The reckless ravage of the new pandemic which broke out in Nigeria by mid-january, 2021, dashed the hope of many, killing joy, as Nigerians in their hundreds, have suddenly been infected by the virus, with deaths rising geometrically.
Usually, Kano being very peculiar, with its population might, has been in the eyes of the storm. Interestingly, however, the Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje’s administration, very aware and on alert of the situation, took the Bull by the horn, early enough, as it began to take drastic measures in curbing the spread of the deadly pandemic.
One of the finest initiatives moulded and executed by Ganduje and his team, was the convocation of a series of Stakeholders’ Sensitization Meeting on the Second Wave of the COVID-19 held at Africa House, Government House, between Wednesday, January, 20 to Sunday, January, 24, 2021.
For five consecutive days, Ganduje; his Deputy, Dr. Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna who doubles as the chairman, Kano State Taskforce on Covid-19; Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Alhaji Usman Alhaji; the Chief-of-Staff, Ali Makoda; Commissioner for Information, Malam Muhammad Garba; Commissioner for Health, Aminu Ibrahim Tsanyawa; Commissioner for Education, Mohammed Kiru; heads of security agencies and the Para-military, held interactive sessions with different stakeholders, seeking their opinions and views, as well as, briefing them on actions being taken by the government to curb the pandemic. The meetings also served as a forum where the public were informed on the intention of the state government to enforce the strict adherence to all COVID-19 protocols, with the inauguration of COVID-19 Marshals and Mobile Courts.
During the meeting with 44 Local Government Chairmen, Traditional Rulers including the five First Class Emirs across the five Emirates in the state, Ulamas, Chief Imams and other religious heads, on Wednesday, January 20, Ganduje stressed the need to inaugurate COVID-19 Committees at all local cadres so as to penetrate the nooks and crannies of the state with adequate sensitization of the people about the character, symptoms and preventive measures of thebpandemic.
Ganduje who commended his guests for their unrelenting efforts in helping government to reaching out to residents across the nooks and crannies of the state, said the fight against COVID-19 must be taken seriously by all stakeholders. He tasked them to tackle the COVID-19 menace with vigour and absolute commitment.
He directed them to raise Committees at Local Government and Ward levels against COVID-19, which, according to him, would help in taming the pandemic from all fronts, insisting that, “this is absolutely necessary.” While calling on them to engage security agents in the herculean task of combating COVID-19, he said, “we have produced and secured millions of face masks you will all be given for distribution to your people. All hands must be on deck,” pointing out that, “it is our responsibility as leaders to always see to the safety of our people at all levels. We still need to do more in all areas of the fight against COVID-19 pandemic.”
On Thursday, January 21, Ganduje addressed leaders of National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Amalgamated Commercial Tricycles and Motorcycle Owners, Repairs and Ridders Association, heads of major markets in the state.He harped on the need to ensure strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols at motor parks, markets and other public places.
Friday, January 22 was the day Ganduje gathered heads of tertiary institutions, heads of academic and non-academic unions, Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), selected head teachers of primary and secondary schools. He ruled out immediate closure of schools, reasoning that it might pose a big threat as students may take home the virus.
He, however, insisted on strict compliance to COVID-19 protocols, pointing out that teachers in the state were included as essential workers so that they will be able to perform their civic responsibilities of impacting knowledge and ensure adequate education of the students.
“School closure poses another danger of setback amid COVID-19,” Ganduje insisted, pointing out that closure of schools amid COVID-19 prevalence, in the second wave, could cause another tragedy of taking the society back again, while the devastating virus keeps following students and pupils to their homes. According to him, “though there is a dire need to fight the pandemic using all available avenues, we should clearly understand repercussions of certain actions in the process. The issue is not that of closing schools. When you close schools, it is another tragedy also, because if you close schools with the intent that you take students away from COVID-19, the same pandemic is capable of following them into their respective homes.”
He further stated that the closure of schools would take students and the system of education back again, “it is because of this that we exempted teachers from staying at home, unlike other civil servants, whom we ordered must not come to work, but stay at home.” He warned that, COVID-19 protocols must be complied with, saying, “we must comply with all the protocols as provided by our able health workers. This is absolutely necessary.” He assured the teachers of government’s commitment in the free, compulsory primary and secondary education policy, and urged parents to help teachers and government in making sure that their children always comply with the protocols of COVID-19.
He revealed plans for strict enforcement of all COVID-19 protocols in Kano, urging residents to take full responsibility. Ganduje said President Muhammadu Buhari is constantly briefed on the situation in Kano over the new wave of the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic. According to him, Kano state government always seek the opinion, advise and recommendations from the Presidency on the best measures being taken in curbing the latest devastating menace of Corona Virus in the state. “We link up with Presidency over certain measures,” Ganduje said, adding that, “there is no time to waste in the fight against COVID-19.”
He further stated that some recommendations were sent to President Muhammadu Buhari, over certain measures in strategizing the fight against the pandemic. “We gave some recommendations to President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, on our approach in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic.When those recommendations got President’s nod, some measures would be taken in the state, to most quickly tame the pandemic as done in the first experience,” he said.
Ganduje, however, lamented, “how some people chose to play politics with efforts by government in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic. Very soon, measures will be introduced. We must tighten our belts in this effort. Ours is to save people’s lives.” He further revealed that, “enforcement for observing COVID-19 protocols would soon come up in the state. People should comply for the health of the citizenry and communities. With Allah’s intervention during the first wave of the pandemic, after taking all the necessary measures, Kano was neither leading from the front nor from the rear. Though we are the most populated state in the country. We must therefore be up and doing during the second wave also. “
Ganduje, however, commended the Managements of Higher Institutions in the state for complying with the protocols, pointing out that, “our tertiary institutions did well and are still doing very well in the fight against the pandemic in the state. We are very happy that you are cooperating with the state government in this fight. We invited you for this stakeholders not because you are ignorant of the situation, but because of emphasis and advocacy reasons. As an academic community, we are sure of your capacity of differentiating between science and fiction.”
Ganduje also hailed the idea of introducing virtual lectures, adding that, “we are mindful and very much aware about your efforts in coming up with some technology-based interventions in the fight against the pandemic. We will do our best to support you. And we are calling on the business community to also come to your aid.”
During interactive sessions with proprietors of private hospitals, non governmental organizations (NGOs), Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) on Saturday, January 23, the Coordinator of Kano COVID-19 Technical Response Team, Dr. Tijjani Hussaini, hinted that Kano state government has managed over 1260 COVID-19 patients through Home-base care since the outbreak of the second wave of the dreaded pandemic. He added that increasing number of Corona Virus patients in the state are undergoing treatment through the Home-base Care initiative adopted and developed by Kano state government. He said Kano is the only state across the federation using the Home-base Care formula, which he described as very effective. According to him, to effectively curb the second wave devastation of the deadly virus, “we rolled out Home Base care management of confirmed COVID-19 cases across the state.”
He further stated that, “Kano is experiencing the gradual increase in COVID-19 cases with the new variant of the virus. From 22 November, 2020 to 22 January, 2021, additional 957 new COVID-19 cases were diagnosed thus bringing the total cases in Kano to 2, 730. Over the last few weeks, the sample positivity rate increased to 12.7 per cent compared to the overall positivity of 4.2 per cent. Number of cases on admission both home based care and hospital admission stands at 325.” He said a total of 19 deaths were recorded between December, 2020 and January 2021 of which 47.3 per cent were partly managed by private facilities.
For effective management of the second wave of the pandemic, he said Kano state government engaged in aggressive surveillance, infection prevention control, increased sample collection and laboratory tests, as well as adequate care management. Dr. Tijjani further hinted that Kano state government also made available enough Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), established sample collection sites across primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare facilities, conducts community sample collection across seven selected Local Government Areas and also established dedicated state call centre with 24 hours toll free HOLINESS. According to him, over 1500 Health care providers have been trained on IPCs skills, while IPC materials were adequately produced and distributed across the state. He further stated that the response team has also continued targeted sample collection in 73 Wards across identified 19 Local Government Areas of the state. He, however, decried poor compliance to use of face masks and observance of physical distancing by the public as major challenges, adding that denial of the existence of the disease and misconception of the COVID-19 vaccine pose a great danger.
In his remarks, Ganduje, who warned Kano residents that COVID-19 is real, announced plans to introduce COVID-19 Marshals who will work in collaboration with all security agencies and the para-military in the state to ensure strict compliance of all COVID-19 protocols. According to him, “we have find ourselves where we have to educate and inform our people on the need to strictly observe all COVID-19 protocols.
“COVID-19 is a reality and it is a fight that we must win and I believe we are succeeding. The vehicle of transmission is the proximity between one person and another.
The major challenge we are facing is the non-compliance of the COVID-19 Protocols by members of the public. We have engaged in public enlightenment, but government must take formal measures—using security agencies and the COVID-19 Marshals to ensure full compliance of all the Protocols,” he stated.
Ganduje also provided 2,000 Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and 100,000 face masks to private hospitals across the state, as part of efforts to combat the dreaded Corona Virus second wave. According to him, “we are providing you with this 2,000 PPEs and 100,000 face masks so that you can take good care of your frontline health workers who always see patients day in day out.” Ganduje added that, “those patients asking for face masks when they visit those facilities could easily have access to them. Your frontline health workers are extremely important to all of us. So, their personal protection means a lot to all of us.” He also urged them to help government in promoting compliance with the protocols, as it relates to use of face mask, hand washing, social distancing and use of sanitizer.
On Sunday, January 24, Ganduje hosted Super Market operators and representatives of the Student Union Government (SUG). He urged Kano students to constitute students’ COVID-19 Marshals to help enforce strict observance of Corona Virus Protocols in higher institutions across the state. He said, “for us to effectively fight this COVID-19 pandemic, it is absolutely necessary for us to include you from the scratch. Your participation means alot in fighting the virus. We decided to take many measures so that we can be able to maximize impact from all angles. We consider strategies like sensitisation, as we are in now, among many others. We use this to provide our people with the technical explanation about the pandemic.”
Ganduje, however, tasked the students to go back to their respective campuses and educate other students on the devastating effect of the second wave of Corona Virus, and enlighten them on the need to obey all its protocols. He added that, “we urge you to also go back and form Students Voluntary Marshals Against COVID-19 in your respective schools. I am extremely delighted that you all promised to take this fight head on.” Ganduje who donated 100,000 face masks to the students appealed to them to, “make sure that you also call the attention of your school mates on complying with the COVID-19 protocol.”
Prior to the engagement of various stakeholders, Ganduje had directed civil servants to stay at home for now, while all viewing and event centres in the state remain closed. In a Statement by the state Commissioner for Information, Malam Muhammad Garba, Ganduje said the measures were taken in order to save lives and ensure that residents in the state are protected from contracting the dreaded virus.
The Statement also lamented increasing COVID-19 cases, while urging residents to adhere to all COVID-19 protocols, and take full responsibility in the collective fight against Corona Virus. He said that all civil servants in the state have been directed to stay at home pending further instruction.
Malam Garba, however, explained that workers on essential services such as the healthcare service providers, fire service, water board, teaching staff, security guards and the media are exempted from the ban.
The Commissioner reaffirmed government’s commitment to working with relevant stakeholders that included the Ulama to ensuring strict compliance with the COVID-19 protocols.He also warned that security agents who were part of the stakeholders meeting would not hesitate to take stern measures to ensure compliance with the directive. According to Malam Garba, night clubs, street parties, parties and all other forms of social gathering have also been banned in the state pending when the COVID-19 wave would wind off.
Ganduje also took into cognizance, the safety of journalists as the state government distributed Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to media organizations in the state. Presenting the equipment, the state Deputy Governor and Chairman, Kano state Taskforce on Covid 19, Dr. Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna said hand senitizers and facemasks were distributed to media practitioners as part of protective messures against the deadly Corona virus. The Deputy Governor, who was represented by the state Commissioner for Information, Malam Muhammad Garba stressed the need for media practitioners and the general public to abide by the Covid 19 protocols.
He charged media organizations in the state to complement the effort of the state government in sensitising the public on Covid 19 personal protection protocols. Gawuna added that government held a series of meetings with the stakeholders as part of it’s commitment to the enhancement of health and general well-being of the people in the state.
With the launching of the COVID-19 Marshals at Kano Government House on Sunday, January 31, 2021, there is no gainsaying the fact that Ganduje’s government means business in protecting the lives of residents of Kano state. Though many are still doubting the existence of the virus and think less of observing the protocols, now that the Kano COVID-19 Marshals who operate with the full backing of all security agencies and the Mobile Court, there is no doubt that residents of the most populous state in Nigeria will be forced to strictly comply to the COVID-19 protocols, thereby, saving lives and stabilising Kano’s health system. On this note, analysts have continued to hail Ganduje’s strategic approach in curbing the Second Wave of the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic.