Covid-19: Impact of FCT minister





In the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), we will remember 2020 as a year when we were hit like many other global cities by the novel Covid-19 pandemic. Like the rest of the world, we have paid a huge price. As of May 15, 2020, many people have lost their lives having tested positive to Covid-19.
Any of those deaths is a tragedy for families and friends. Children have lost mothers and fathers, parents have lost sons and daughters before their time.The Minister of the FCT, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, is pained by this tragedy and number of casualties and pays tributes to those who have died and their loved ones who remained.

The minister of the FCT, being mindful of the fact that Abuja is one of epicentre of the coronavirus crisis because of the nature of the city itself being the capital city of the nation and, of course, the seat of government, put in place a robust, pragmatic and systematic programmes that have effectively checked the spread of the coronavirus and brought hope to those already infected.
 Abuja is an international hub tightly packed with people from all over the country and indeed the world. What makes Abuja unique has also rendered it vulnerable to a coronavirus pandemic that is ruthless and deadly.
 The minister, because of his love for the people, made Abuja to be under strict stay at home order. This was not made as a punitive action but because of the need to keep the people safe from the coronavirus pandemic. The lockdown ordered by the minister is painful but understandable. Agreed that at the initial period of imposing the stay at home order, there were still many issues unknown about the coronavirus.The minister took urgent steps and adopted strategies to reduce the spread of the coronavirus as hospitals and health care workers were urgently equipped and hospital spaces were urgently created and equipped for the quarantining of infected persons.
The FCT minister did not relent in his efforts to expand hospital capacity, adding more hospital beds, budgeting for more ventilators, as the hospitals need them urgently even for people who are expected to be infected with the coronavirus. The minister was vigilant to the fact that as it was expected at the initial period that as the number of cases rose, so also would the death rate. He quickly made sure that the number of city mogues were increased also making sure that in satellite towns refrigerated trucks were provided in front of hospitals to take care of the surge in requests for mortuaries.

 As the city’s statistics became staggering, the minister made sure that the enlightenment department of the ministry was equipped urgently too, so that the residents would have a grasp of the rate of the impending crisis. Abuja has led the nation in the rate of testing as the FCT authorities under the minister urgently recruited thousands of ad-hoc qualified hospital and clinical staff to help in the testing of residents.This is an example to the rest of authorities all  over the country.The minister made sure that in Abuja, there was no cause for surprise-this is expected to become the creed in Abuja.
The minister has shown leadership at this time when the spread of the coronavirus took the world by surprise dislocating communities, disrupting social cohesion among the people and above all tasking the government at all levels to innovate in finding ways and measures to save the lives of its people by keeping them safe. In the midst of fear, tension and anxiety, the Minister of the FCT Musa  Bello Mohammed took up the gauntlet in managing the situation and this has been commended by all across political and religious lines. The urgent but pragmatic and systematic manner he took up this task which succeeded in lowering the rate of person to person infections and the provision of the needed support infrastructure to help stabilise the situation can be described as one of the greatest lessons of leadership in an emergent situation.
The administration immediately, the virus situation became apparent and put in place proactive measures such as the closures of mass gathering places like churches, mosques, cinemas, night clubs, conference centres and sports centres, etc. The staggering of market days in the FCT also helped in keeping people safe from the deadly Covid-19.
 The urgent composition and constituting of a strong task force to help in the enforcement of the protective measures and achieve the aim of keeping residents safe at this period was a good one by the minister.The task force has not disappointed as the minister has painstakingly been up and doing, monitoring and evaluating its activities and in the process keeping them on their toes.
In addition, the minister embarked on a weekly appraisal of workability of the measures and protocols as rolled out by the World Health Organization and the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), so that he would close any gap which may militate against its implementations in the FCT and offering all the needed support to health workers and the security personnel involved in its implementation.
The Expert Advisory Council set up by the minister to study the day to day impact of the measures and protocol on ground and to always advice him on its workability while also propose new measures helped. Kudos must be given to the minister in believing that he is not a master of all.
Musa writes from Abuja

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