The COVID-19 journey so far, Kano a case study

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By Abdulmumin Giwa

The case of an Italian man that tested positive of COVID-19 in Nigeria pushed the government into action in the fight against the global pandemic eating up and devastating lives and economy.

A presidential taskforce was immediately inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari to design and implement modules of eradicating the spread of the deadly virus in Nigeria.

Soon after the deadly virus made its way to other states in Nigeria, the federal government’s module was replicated by the affected states and Taskforce were formed at the states levels, Kano state inclusive.

Since the pandemic began taking a toll on Kano, which has come to ‘mysteriously’ be tagged as the ‘epicenter’ of COVID-19 in Nigeria, I picked interest in reviewing how the fight against COVID-19 is taking place in Kano.

State governors and other elites, especially in the FCT, Abuja have not only despised the measures Kano is taking in its fight against COVID-19 but have also stigmatized the public, such that anybody from Kano is seen as a potential carrier of the Coronavirus, a negative thing to do during a pandemic.

Video clips have gone viral showing officials of some states publicly announcing that returnees from Kano submit themselves for isolation. We have also seen governors, especially the Kaduna state governor, Nasiru Elrufai, for reasons best known to him, depicting a worse scenario of stigmatization against Kano, claiming that some of the Almajirai evacuated from Kano to Kaduna based on the Northern Governors Forum, NGF’s resolution, were COVID-19 positive. This is even as he had earlier announced testing positive to Corona virus on March 28, 2020 even before the evacuation reached its peak.

These negativities and insinuations against Kano state have also been attributed to the perceived lack of proactive stance of the state government by the same elites. All these and many more necessitated the making of Kano a case study in this submission.

Going by the population of the state, placed at 15 million, all the talk going on about the Virus is officially on less than 1% (one percent) of the entire state’s population. Out of the 4,641 cases confirmed in Nigeria by the National Commission for Disease Control, NCDC, 666 are from Kano as at May 12, 2020 as tests continue. But logically the spread of the virus in Kano could be said to be reciprocal to the size of the population, which is also vulnerable.

It begs the question, what has Kano state done since the outbreak in Nigeria?

-Locking of all state boarders:

As at Friday 27th of March 2020, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje had announced closure of all entry points to the state, including the domestic wing of the Aminu Kano International Airport, where visitors were warned that they would be forced to remain at the airport if they violate the instruction as they would be denied entrance into the state. This is to stop spread of the novel Corona virus to the state. Several truck loads of returnees from affected areas like Lagos and Abuja were reported by the media to have illegally entered the state. The governor himself while on an inspection tour stumbled on defaulters at the Kano-Kaduna boarder and ordered them to turn back.

-Inauguration of a Taskforce Committee:

As fate would have it, the COVID-19 made its way to Kano. The state government promptly inaugurated a Taskforce Committee against COVID-19 in Kano to be chaired by the Deputy Governor Nasiru Gawuna and cochaired by a professor of infectious and tropical diseases Abdulrazak Garba.

-Forming of a Fund Raising Committee:

The state government also inaugurated a Fund Raising Committee to be chaired by the Vice Chancellor of Bayero University Kano Prof Muhammad Yahuza Bello. The committee has a subcommittee tasked with the duty of providing palliatives to 300,000 poorest of the poor households in the state to cushion the effects of the lockdown order. It has since reached out to 50,000 households within the eight local governments in the metropolis.

-Creation of Test Centres:

Initially test centres for Corona virus were only in Abuja and Lagos before one was later established in Kano. Since then the state government made ways for the establishment of more test centres such that more people could be tested, with the governor aiming at having a mass testing facility in the state.

-Isolation Centres:

So far six isolation centre have been created in the state since the pandemic.

-Imposition of Lockdown:

Even before the presidential imposition of a two weeks total lockdown in Kano, the state government had started on the same footing by closing down all commercial activities in the state through a lockdown that commenced on Thurs April 16 2020.

-Inauguration of Mobile Courts:

To enforce the lockdown, the Kano government also inaugurated 10 mobile courts on April 25, 2020 to prosecute violators of the lockdown in the state. The courts have prosecuted over 400 violators in just about a week after the inauguration.

-Mobilization of the public using the media:

The general public were kept abreast on issues concerning COVID-19 in the state through the broadcast media in the state, especially the radio. The state government also embarked on frequent briefing on the fight against COVID-19 in the state, usually broadcast live and widely reported by the media.

-The Public Complaint and Anti Corruption Commission, PCACC watching over:

A lot of natural and unnatural economic forces are hammering on the public as a result of the lockdown in particular. These include incessant inflation most of which are artificial, and diversion of palliatives. The PCACC has been instructed by the state Governor to deal with the situation which has led to the arrest of some Local government chairmen, closure of some stores, seizure of hoarded food items and creation of sales channels from producers to retailers directly to curb unnecessary inflation.

-Security and Enforcement:

The state government also mobilized the police and all other paramilitary forces towards providing security and enforcement of the sit at home order. This was necessitated by the low manpower of the police in the state, a general phenomenon in the country. The NCDC, NRSC, KAROTA, HIZBAH, VIGILANTE, volunteers from religious groups and the police were all put to use in the state to ensure compliance.

These are some of the measures taken by the state government in its effort to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the state. Amidst these, several other measures were also taken that include imposition of spacing in public transport, compulsory wearing of facemasks, closure of mega markets and allowing only supermarkets to operate to ease the implementation of safety protocols like social distancing, hygiene, use of the facemasks and others.

More so, all these were as a result of the state government’s initiatives and logistics amidst financial constrains. Not even states that have been funded by the federal government might have done any better in this clime.

Yes there can be defiance and refusal to comply by some members of the public for reasons best known to them. Even with the level of lack of compliance from some sections of the populace, I don’t think any state government fighting the plight of COVID-19 has done any better.

Not even Lagos state, with its strong economic capacity or Ogun state, that is about three times less than Kano in population, and all funded by the Federal Government might be said to have done anything better than these.

Although more needs to be done in the general fight against COVID-19 in Nigeria, Kano as a case study has set a good precedence worthy of emulation by other states in the country as an effective case study.

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