Kano: 70 days of the fight against coronavirus

Kano’s 70 days of a fierce and unrelenting fight against the novel coronavirus is a sweet-bitter tale of struggles and successes – true to that famous mantra “man jadda wa jadda” (whosoever strives shall succeed).

Until recently when the intensity of the virus assumed a gradual decrease, coronavirus has taken the world hostage and disrupted the global economy leaving behind a trail of human and material damage. Kano state is not an exception; it has its own share of the losses.

The fight against coronavirus is an all-important war that every country, let alone a state, needs to be focused on and resolute to win it, considering how the scourge is overwhelming even the so-called developed with all their medical advancement.

A novel virus that was first detected in the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province of China in December 20219, has spilled over to more than 100 countries, affecting more than seven million people and killing 200,000 plus worldwide thereby bringing the world economy almost to its knees.

In Nigeria, the health ministry confirmed the index case of Covid-19 on January 25, 2020, in an Italian who was in Lagos State for a brief business visit. As early as January, the Kano state government placed a team of experts on alert and began a plan to guard the state against the scourge.

Of course, the fight against the dreaded disease in Kano state is almost a won war. The state government has taken the fight with all seriousness and now things are falling into place.

For Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje’s decisive step, Covid-19 would have been Kano’s Marco Butus. The scourge of the virus infiltrated through the boundaries of Kano state amidst the unprecedented transformation and fine-tuning of the projects and programmes the Ganduje administration had started.

The administration has executed various infrastructural and human development projects that the state’s 2020 fiscal document had been termed “Budget of Sustainable Development”.

On one hand, civil service has been invigorated, primary health care facilities across the 44 LGAs of the state are being rehabilitated and equipped with the state-of-the-art medical equipment, a multi-billion naira skills acquisition centre has been completed and, most importantly, the traditional institution has been reformed to bring government closer to the people.

On the other, the governor was making consultations with relevant stakeholders, with a view to finding a reliable political blueprint for the state. In short, the Ganduje administration has been so committed in its transformation agenda through innovative measures. The administration wants to bring the dividend of democracy to the door step of the people of the state.

The Ganduje administration is so proactive that it has always given security of lives and property a top priority. Even before Kano state recorded its index case of Covid-19, the Ganduje administration had mapped out a three-point agenda for the fight against coronavirus which include preventive, curative and palliative measures. Governor Ganduje is a silent achiever who acts more and speaks less.

To begin with, vigorous awareness campaigns to educate individuals on the preventive measures against the Covid-19 disease were in the pipeline. Thousands of health workers were trained and personal protection equipment distributed and resources mobilised.

When the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu urged Governor Ganduje to take a rest for being always on the field, I was not surprised. The governor has been as busy as a bee. His slogan is “I want to save lives. I want to preserve Kano state.”

He has been oscillating from one isolation centre to another, from one boundary to another (to ensure total compliance with the boundary closure directives) and from one palliative distribution centre to another; and or meetings with traditional and religious leaders.

The battle has begun. First there was a twin awareness campaign: one is the sensitisation programme to create awareness among the public on the preventive measures against the Covid-19 pandemic aired on various media platforms and the other is a series of weekly broadcast by the governor to brief the public of the current situation.

This was followed by the setting up of three well equipped and functional treatment and isolation centres in accordance with the three stages of the infection. Later the 350-bed capacity Sani Abacha Stadium isolation centre donated by Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Buhari Specialist Hospital Giginyu, Abubakar Imam Urology Centre came in as a backup.

The Kano state government cannot relent in its zeal and commitment. The governor was mindful of the size, preponderant population and complex setting of the state. On March 23, 2020, the government suspended all social gatherings, closed event centres and urged traditional and religious institutions to regulate places of worship.

As Nigeria continued to record more cases of Covid-19, the closure of schools and state boundaries was one of the stiffest measures taken to prevent the disease from spreading into the state. The directive of the closure temporarily put an embargo on the inflow and outflow of people, as well as the domestic wing of Malam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA).

Days after setting up the Covid-19 Emergency Response Committee, on March 20, 2020, the governor inaugurated the state task force on Covid-19, chaired by the Deputy Governor, Dr Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna, and co-chaired by Prof. Abdul-Razaq Garba Habib, Head of the Infectious Diseases Unit, Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Kano.

The task of the committee include but not limited to assessing the situation and coordinating the state’s response to the threat posed by the pandemic, through multi-disciplinary approach and inter-sectoral collaboration; and to also advise the government on necessary steps and decisions to combat the threat.

April 11, 2020, coronavirus came knocking. Kano dtate had recorded its index case of coronavirus. A new leaf was turned as the state now had to turn its attention to the curtailment measures, the most difficult aspect of the fight.

Kano state government with its vastly reformed traditional institution swung into action. The state had already been on spiritual mode. Fasting days had been declared and prayers intensified.

One very critical decision Governor Ganduje had taken was to ask retired health workers to come out of retirement to join the fight. Thanks to Alhaji Aliko Dangote and Abdussamad Isyaka Rabiu, the chairman of BUA Foundation that came to the aid of the state government which was hitherto a loner in the fight against the virus. Imagine the resources injected!

The government also embarked on an all-round fumigation of public places: hospitals, markets, roads, mosques churches, etc, as part of the proactive measures to stop the spread. The government was fighting the pandemic nail and tooth. 

With the total lockdown in effect, boundaries, markets, among other public places, shut down, many people were fast losing their means of livelihood. The need to cushion the sufferings of the vulnerable propped up.

On March 29, 2020, the governor set up a 30-man fund raising committee. Part of the responsibilities of the committee was to seek for donations from organisations and individuals, identify the needy to whom the donations will be distributed and to design the mode of the distribution exercise.    

The committee has turned out to be a huge success. As Ganduje launched the first batch of the state’s palliative distribution, beginning with eight metropolitan local government areas of the state, over 50,000 poor households received food items and cash to ease the hardship brought about by the total lockdown imposed on the state. The second batch was twice as big as the first one.

Even though Kano state now accounts for the third largest number of Covid-19 cases in the country, the sleepless night and heroic struggles have paid up. The number of the cases is on the decline. The state is opening up its economy through gradually. 

True to the assertion of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, Kano state has identified its problems and come up with the right solutions. The state has already started recording successes. This cannot be unconnected with the Ganduje administration’s total commitment and political will to end the virus in the state. 

One major debilitating economic impact of Covid-19 Nigeria had to grappling with as the coronavirus throttled global economy leading to slump in oil prices is revenue shortfall.

Despite the trimmed statutory allocation and decrease in internally generated revenue, resulting from the measures taken to stem the spread of the disease, the Ganduje administration is so committed to revamping the state economy.  

At last, as the gradual easing of the lockdown in the state comes into effect, the state government in conjunction with relevant stakeholders is coming up with viable modalities to open up the state’s economy as well as scientific strategy to face any eventuality.  The governor has engaged the private sector and experts. May Kano state emerge stronger! Ameen

Abdulhamid writes via [email protected]  

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