The novel COVID-19 pandemic may have bared its fangs on Ondo state whose governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, and his wife, Betty, tested positive Wednesday.
And just 24 hours after, the state’s Commissioner for Health, Dr. Abdulwahab Adegbenro died of the virus Thursday, a day the Chief Medical Director, Medical Sciences Teaching Hospital Akure, Dr Oluwole Ige, was also said to have tested positive.
The sad development, coupled with rising cases resulting from the pandemic, the state government admitted, were causing the state some sleepless nights.
But in all of this, Kogi state Governor Yahaya Bello insisted COVID-19 is a game and warned leaders to avoid playing with the lives of Nigerians.
Although details of causes of his death were still sketchy as at the time of this report, the commissioner’s death resulted from COVID-19 infections.
A source at the state infectious disease hospital said, Adegbenro was up and doing early in the day and even attended to some patients within the hospital, after which he slumped and eventually died.
The late commissioner who hailed from Ilara-Mokin, Ifedore local government of the state, was said to be in his late 60’s.
Reacting to Adegbenro’s demise, the All Progressives Congress (APC), Ondo state chapter, described his passage as shocking, deflating and traumatic.
The state’s Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Alex Kalajaiye, said the deceased was at the forefront of government efforts at curtailing the spread of the pandemic in the state.
“His demise collides violently with this patriotic assignment. He was a party man to the core, readily accessible, humble and dependable. His commitment to the general wellbeing of people within and outside his circle was unparalleled. Dr. Adegbenro led a rancour-free lifestyle.
“The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ondo State, and Ifedore local government area in particular, would find it difficult to replace this committed and pragmatic leader.
“Although, the party is deeply traumatised by this huge loss, we pray God to console his immediate family, the people of Ifedore, and the Government of Ondo State. We also pray that his soul will find peace with his creator,” the statement said.
Also, CMD University of Medical Sciences Teaching Hospital, Akure, Dr Ige, has tested positive for COVID- 19.
Announcing this in a statement Thursday on behalf of the CMD, Mr. Adeeyo Babatunde, said Ige was responding to treatment.
Babatunde said there was no cause for alarm and advised staff members to go about their normal duties while they adhere strictly to universal precautions against the pandemic.
“This is to inform the members of staff of University of Medical Sciences Teaching Hospital and the general public that the Chief Medical Director was positive to COVID-19 test conducted on him after he exhibited symptoms relating to Corona virus disease.
“However, the CMD is currently being treated and he is responding to the treatment positively.
“All members of staff of the Teaching Hospital and the general public are hereby advised to go about their normal duties and continue to observe universal precautions against the COVID-19 pandemic, as we also wish the CMD quick recovery,” the statement said.
Amidst the concerns, the special adviser to Governor Akeredolu on health, Dr Jibayo Adeyeye, Thursday said the nonchalant attitude towards the COVID-19 protocol was giving government sleepless nights.
At a meeting with leaders of market associations in Akure South local government area held in Akure, the governor’s aide said one of the solutions proffered by expert to prevent the spread of the virus was the use of nose mask but the people refused to comply.
“Markets were permitted to open on specified days for the good of the people but they have refused to obey, and continue opening at every blessed day.
“Transporters are not helping matters either, as they are picking more than the stipulated passengers and are not putting on nose masks either. This recalcitrant attitude of residents is responsible for the spike and alarming upsurge in the confirmed cases in the state and this in his words is worrisome and life threatening,” he said.
He charged the different associations represented to set up taskforce to ensure compliance to COVID-19 rules, saying markets would be reopened for daily sales if they were organised and adherence to government directives.
In their responses, Messrs Gabriel Onuma and Ozota Sunday, chairman and vice-chairman petty traders association respectively, said their members were complying with government directives.
They however said their challenge had to do with those non-members, particularly the hawkers who operated by the roadside.
They therefore called on government to move against this category of traders to safeguard the people’s health.
Similarly, Mrs. Bolarinwa Temidayo and Elizabeth Okoro, both Iyaloja of Isikan and Isolo markets respectively, begged government to be firm with the enforcement of the use of nose masks and other COVID-19 protocols in the interest of the generality of the people.
Also speaking, Mr. Bayode Olugbenga of the National Union Transport Workers (NURTW), promised the union would do more sensitisation among its members and enforce compliance with government directives.
Meanwhile, National Coordinator Presidential Task Force on Control of COVID-19, Dr Sani Aliyu has expressed concerns that the country’s coronavirus laboratories were under-utilised because of inadequate testing of samples.
At a press briefing in Abuja Thursday, Aliyu said: “A lot of our labs are underutilised; their capacity far exceeds what they’re getting in terms of samples for testing. Every State has an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) for COVID-19. Most States have hotlines that you can call to report symptoms and to get advice on how you can be tested.
“As you’re aware the PTF has been intensifying efforts to increase COVID-19 testing throughout the country. From zero Labs providing testing in early February, we’ve moved to about a handful of labs in March and we now just over 30 laboratories throughout the country.
“But what we have realized is that there is clearly a lack of demand, a lot of these laboratories are under-utilized, their capacity far exceeds what they’re getting in terms of samples.
“So, today I’ll be emphasizing the symptoms and how to get tested. The symptoms of COVID-19 infection include fever, which is found in the majority of cases, a cough and shortness of breath, but it may also include sore throat, a loss of smell or taste, chest pain and occasionally even more severe symptoms including collapse.
“Early detection of these symptoms, taking the appropriate testing steps and adequate monitoring and treatment is the only way to protect yourself and your loved ones.
“It’s therefore important if you have come in contact with a COVID possessive case or have related symptoms please take appropriate steps for testing.
“So how would you go about if you want to get tested, so throughout the country every state has a state emergency Operation Center, most states will have a state hotline, you can get the details of the helpline, the telephone number from the NCDC website.
“Or if your state does not have a helpline, you can call the NCDC helpline directly to provide you with additional information and on the next steps to take.
“Some states also have websites and they provide information on the numbers, in terms of jingles, on the radio, social media as well as TV adverts.
“Once you call, you will be asked for your address and either of two things could happen if you’re not very symptomatic, you’ll be asked to go to a testing center.
“Today in the FCT, the Honorable Minister of Health had a meeting with NCDC and members of the FCT health department and in Abuja alone we are opening up seven new collection centers to enable people to be able to go straight to a testing center if they need to have a sample taken, sample testing centre.
“This approach will be expanded across the country so that there will be more and more sample collection centers in local governments throughout the country and we will definitely be prioritizing this for the hotspot local governments that we will be targeting in the coming weeks.
“So after you’ve had your sample taken, you will be asked to self isolate if you’re having symptoms until you receive your result. By self-isolation, we mean keeping away from the public as well as a household members where possible, wearing a face mask properly to cover both your nose and mouth, maintaining physical distancing, avoiding mass gatherings and frequently disinfecting your hands with soap and water or a disinfectant as well as disinfecting any surfaces that you may have worked on.
“You’ll be contacted with your results, if your results are positive and you have mild symptoms you will be asked to isolate, if you have severe symptoms, you will be taken into Hospital set up otherwise the isolation Center may not necessarily be a hot Hospital set up depending on the arrangements in your state. Some states have a home isolation, such as Lagos if you do not have symptoms.
“It is important that if you have moderate to severe symptoms to report to hospital immediately for urgent care.
“Please work with us to stop the spread of a COVID action now if you feel you have symptoms, or you have been in contact with someone with the virus and remember for the vast majority of cases, COVID-19 is not a death sentence, many people are recovering as we can see and continuing on with their daily lives but what is important is if you have symptoms to be able to access a centre for sampling to have your tests done and to know what your result is so that you can protect yourself and your loved ones and you can make sure you’ve taken the appropriate steps to ensure a healthy living and survival.”
Stop playing game–Bello
However, amidst these rising concerns, Kogi state Governor Bello is accusing leaders at different levels of playing games with the COVID-19 pandemic, saying this must stop.
The governor spoke Thursday while receiving in audience members Board of Trustees (BoT) of Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Foundation when they paid him a courtesy visit at the Government House Lokoja.
He said: “Let us stop this game. Nigerians are suffering. Instead of the lockdown with its attendant negative effects on the people, why can’t we turn it into employment opportunities; providing clothes for face masks to be exported to those countries who have the disease?
“COVID-19 is not a new disease in our clime. We have our own way of treating it and that is what we should be exploiting, rather than subjecting our people to hardship, hunger and starvation through lockdown.”
The governor who insisted the death of the state’s Chief Judge, Justice Nasir Ajanah was not COVID-19 related, further said: “We know his medical history; he was my brother. We know we have been managing him since 2016, but this time, he was completely isolated; no one was allowed to even speak to him until he passed away. We cannot afford to be playing games with the lives of Nigerians, This must stop.”
On the legacies of the late Sardauna of Sokoto, the governor called on northern leaders to emulate the virtues of the northern premier in order to take the region to the next level of development.
The governor lamented that despite producing numerous leaders and billionaires, the North remained backward in terms of development.
He therefore called on the current northern leaders to imbibe the virtues of honesty, transparency, sincerity and accountability that the late Bello was known for while holding sway as the leader of the Northern Nigeria.
Bello said his administration had exemplified those virtues of Sardauna in its activities, noting that in Kogi state, there is no segregation among the ethnic groups.
“The late Ahmadu Bello practiced equity, fairness, all-inclusive and transparency in governance. That was why he recorded tremendous achievements for the northern people during his time as leader of the North.
“Ironically, today, lack of sincerity among leaders in the region has become a major problem that hindered the development of the region and the only way to tackle this challenge is when we decide to continually emulate the virtues of the late Sardauna of Sokoto who detested religion and tribal sentiments,” he said.
A major highlight of the visit was the presentation of 30,000 nose masks to the government and people of the state as well as flag-off of public awareness advocacy against rape and other forms of gender-based violence in Nigeria by the team leader, Senator Ibrahim Shekarau.