There is rising fear in Nigeria over the COVID-19 spike as leaders at different levels intensified effort at curbing the disturbing trend.
As at Wednesday night, the COVID-19 cases in Nigeria had risen to 38, 344 with 15,815 recovering and 805 deaths. 813 have died so far.
The development is coming amid concerns over the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) and Ekiti state Governor Kayode Fayemi was Wednesday confirmed positive to the pandemic.
Fayemi, had at one time tested negative a couple of months ago when he voluntarily tested following his contact with former Chief of Staff to the President Abba Kyari, prior to the latter’s demise.
On the positive note however, Abia state Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, who recently tested positive to the virus, has turned negative, even as the House of Representatives Wednesday mandated theNigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to test Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Multichoice Nigeria John Ugbe for COVID-19, and provide the result in four days.
Other governors who have tested positive in the last four months include Oyo state Governor Seyi Makinde, Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi state and his Kaduna counterpart, Malam Nasir el-Rufai.
The rest are Ebonyi state Governor Dave Umahi; Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State and his Ondo counterpart, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu.
Coming after some of his colleagues who had earlier tested positive, Governor Fayemi announced his status after the third clinical test was carried out on him.
Announcing this via his official twitter handle @kfayemi, the governor said he had gone into self-isolation and delegated critical tasks to the Deputy Governor, Otunba Bisi Egbeyemi. Fayemi said he would henceforth perform routine duties from home.
The NGF chair tweeted: “I took my third COVID-19 test yesterday and it came back positive.
“I’m generally ok and I’m already self isolating at home and receiving the best of care from my medical team.
“I’m delegating critical tasks to my Deputy but will continue routine duty from home.”
Confirming the development, Fayemi’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr Yinka Oyebode, said his principal had proceeded on self-isolation.
He disclosed that the governor’s wife, Erelu Bisi Fayemi and all his personal aides had also gone for COVID-19 tests.
“The wife of the governor, Erelu Bisi Fayemi being the closest to the governor and members of the State Executive Council, including myself as well as personal aides of His Excellency, have submitted ourselves for COVID-19 tests.
“Samples have been taken and we are now expecting the results. But none of us is symptomatic as of now, so no cause for alarm,” Oyebode said.
The development has generated some tension among the governor’s aides over what could be their fate when the result is out.
But on a positive note, the Governor Ikpeazu’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr Onyebuchi Ememanka, has said his principal returned to the state after weeks in isolation for testing positive to coronavirus.
He stated this Wednesday in a press statement made available to Blueprint in Umuahia.
He said after a period of isolation, treatment and recovery from COVID-19, the governor is back, hale and hearty.
The release stated that the governor along with his wife, his two daughters and a few of his aides went straight to the Seventh Day Adventist Church, Umuobiakwa in Obingwa local government of Abia state for a brief thanksgiving service presided over by the President of the East Nigeria Union Conference of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, Nigeria, Pastor Bassey Udoh.
Ememanka said the governor expressed his deep and profound appreciation to the Almighty God whose grace and loving kindness kept him throughout the difficult period.
The governor also thanked the team of doctors and other medical personnel who attended to him and praised them for their dedication and professionalism.
The statement further quoted the governor as commending his Deputy Governor, Ude Oko Chukwu, “for courageously holding the forte during his period of absence and commended him for his statesmanship in the running of the affairs of the state.
“Governor Ikpeazu sent his appreciation to Speaker of the Abia state House of Assembly, Chinedum Orji and all members of the for their display of patriotism during the period.”
Kano on Eid-el-Kabir
Also, as part of efforts to consolidate on the successes achieved in the fight against COVID-9 and the relaxation of lockdown in many states of the federation, Kano state Executive Council Wednesday ordered the cancelation of traditional Sallah festivities to celebrate to Eid-el-Kabir in the state.
The council, after deliberations at its weekly meeting held at the Government House, Kano, however, granted the conduct of Eid congregational prayers across the state under strict observance of safety protocols, which are also to be supervised by government officials.
Briefing newsmen on the outcome of the meeting, the state Commissioner for Information, Malam Muhammad Garba, said all the five emirs in the state would go to the Eid prayer ground in their respective domains in motor vehicles while there would be no visit to Shettima House, gathering for Hawan Daushe, Hawan Nassarawa and other traditional outings in the emirates.
He explained that government would assist in the provision of safety materials that included face masks and hand sanitisers as well as ensure strict observance of social distancing at the praying grounds.
The commissioner also announced council’s approval to institute measures for the realisation of government’s plan to transform the headquarters of the new emirates to smaller cities through the construction of road networks with a view to ensuring even development, and directed the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure with its relevant parastatals to inform the council on the level of progress in that direction.
Garba revealed that the council also requested for progress report on the execution of the 400-bed capacity hospital projects in the new emirates which are to have additional clinics such as Eye, Dental, Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) being upgraded to reduce pressure on health facilities in Kano.
Remain home –Niger
In a related development, Niger state Governor Abubakar Sani-Bello has directed school children and workers in the state to remain at home with continued closure of schools and offices till further notice.
The decision followed the increasing cases of COVID-19 pandemic in the state.
The governor stated this Wednesday at a press briefing after meeting with the state COVID-19 Taskforce led by Ibrabim Matane.
He expressed dismay that the ease of lockdown in the state had resulted in a situation where many residents no longer adhere or observe precautionary measures put in place by government and health officials.
“Government has noticed with dismay that people no longer follow laid down protocol on curbing the spread of COVID-19. Therefore, there should be a reinvigoration of the curfew earlier imposed in the state from 10pm to 4am daily. Also students are to remain at home till further notice,” Sani-Bello said.
The governor also directed security agencies to strictly enforce compulsory wearing of face masks, adding that those who disobey COVID-19 precautionary rules should be prosecuted in mobile courts.
He said all deaths must now be reported for proper medical inquiries before burial to check dangers posed by those who died of COVID-19 ailment unidentified, adding that, “all social gathering remain banned.”
He regretted that the state recorded nine deaths out of 166 cases while 113 others were discharged.
Also, some 64 almajiri kids who tested positive to COVID-19 in the state have fully recovered and reunited with their families, the state Commissioner for Health and Hospital Services, Dr. Mohamned Makusidi has said.
The commissioner stated this Wednesday in Minna while answering questions from journalists.
He said: “As we have said earlier, the has so far gotten 166 positive COVID-19 cases including almajirai. 1075 almajirai were tested out of which 64 returned positive. However, the good news is that they have all recovered and are now reunited with their families.”
Makusidi said government had returned those of them who were not from the state to their home states.
Reps on Multichoice boss
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has asked the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to test the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Multichoice Nigeria, Mr. John Ugbe for COVID-19, and provide the result in four days.
The directive came Wednesday through the Ad-hoc committee investigating the non-implementation of Pay-As-You-Go Tariff Plan pay TV satellite providers in Nigeria, as the case in many other countries.
When the committee was told that CEO of Multichoice wrote to explain that he was sick and could attend the hearing, a member from Delta state, Hon. Julius Podi, came up with a motion that Ugbe be tested for the dreaded coronavirus and same was unanimously adopted by the panel.
Ugbe was to appear and explain reasons for the non-implementation of the Pay-As-You-Go, as well as the recent hike in DSTV/GOTV tariff platforms under Multichoice operations.
But in his letter signed on his behalf by the Head of Regulatory Affairs of Multichoice Nigeria, Mr. Gozie Onumonon, dated July 22, 2020, he said: “We regret to inform the Committee that we would be unable to appear before it today due to a sudden illness of our Chief Executive Officer, after arriving in Abuja yesterday for this meeting.
“Because of the abundance of caution needed to be taken in line with the current pandemic, we believe it is necessary that the meeting be deferred until he has regained his health and is cleared by his medical doctor.
“In the meantime, we will submit written submissions to the Committee to assist the Committee in its investigations.
“We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused to the Committee and please be assured of our best efforts at all times.”
Chairman of the Ad-hoc Committee, Hon Unyime Idem, who read the letter however lamented that Ugbe had requested the postponement of the meeting earlier scheduled for July 17, citing pre-scheduled engagements with its shareholders, and so could not be available.
“We are here this morning pursuant to the resolution of the House of Representatives, mandating this Committee on the 17th March, 2020, to investigate DSTV and other Cables TV in Nigeria on the non-implementation of the Pay-As-You-Go “, he recalled with reference to specific directive of the House to ask Multichoice certain questions.
Ruling on the motion after several contributions by members, the chairman directed the Clerk to communicate the decision to the NCDC Director General Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu to locate Ugbe and test him for COVID-19 and trace his contacts.