Kwakwanso Writes Buhari, Seeks Urgent Action to Stop Kano from Becoming Epicenter of COVID-19 in Africa

Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso

*Wants FG to take over rapid response on coronavirus

*Says state govt has failed to provide required leadership needed at this time

*Demands proper state taskforce on Covid-19 based on professionalism, competence

*Calls for additional test and sample collection centres

Former Governor of Kano State, Senator Rabiu Musa Kakwanso, has written a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari on the spike in the number of unexplained deaths in Kano and called on the President to urgently intervene before the state becomes the epicenter of Covid-19 on the continent.

In the four-page letter addressed to the President, the former governor warned that with the population of Kano, if the situation was not handled properly and urgently, Kano would become the epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic in Africa.

“Kano is the most populous state in the country and Kano is one of the biggest in Africa. Experts have expressed concern that if the Kano situation is not handled professionally, sincerely, efficiently and competently, we have the tendency of becoming the epicenter of this disease in Africa in a matter of months. Every sincere leader should be concerned about this. Everything that ought to have been in place: from advocacy and awareness campaign to sensitize the public, to the provision of support (material, medical and emotional) to the citizens is conspicuously absent in Kano”, he warned.

Listing five reasons for writing the letter, Kwakwanso said: “Mr. President, I feel obliged to write this letter to you for five reasons: one is the very scary rise in the number of people that are mysterious dying in Kano every day since the commencement of the fight against Covid-19 and the eventual lockdown of the state.; two is the uncoordinated and unprofessional manner in which the fight against the disease in Kano state is being waged and the attendant and unprecedented mistrust of the government by the governed; three is the near absence of cooperation and coordination between the state and the federal government on the Covid-19 response; four is the frightening reality of the tendency of the present health emergency (which has already placed unbearable financial burden on both the citizens and the nation) to metamorphose into a security emergency, and five, is to offer some suggestions in the overall interest of the good people of Kano State and the success of the national effort against the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Permit me Mr. President to draw your attention to the spike in mystery deaths among the aged population in Kano State in the last couple of weeks.

“Hundreds of funerals have been recorded in all the cemeteries of the eight metropolitan local governments alone. Looking at the pattern elsewhere in the world where senior citizens with preexisting conditions were the main fatalities of the novel coronavirus, we are concerned that the inability to conduct tests in the state to determine the status of these senior citizens might be responsible for the death. We are even more concerned that if sincere and efficient machinery is not urgently put in place to understand and mitigate against this, more lives of innocent senior citizens will be lost.”

Noting that the state has practically no Covid-19 response committee, he said “what was hitherto working as a Covid-19 committee was a contraption of cronies that are both unqualified and incompetent.”

He said the committee, which kowtowed to the whims of politicians without any regards to professional healthcare considerations, “technically disbanded” itself when majority of the members were tested positive for Covid-19.

Kwakwanso said since the announcement of the positive test results of the committee members, no test had been conducted in the entire state.

“This is very frightening as neither asymptomatic nor active cases are being identified and isolated, as such carriers of this dreaded virus are all about and spreading it and causing untimely deaths of especially our senior citizens,” he said.

According to him, “The stoppage of the tests coupled with series of revelations from within the isolation centre in Kano together with the state persistence in asking for financial assistance from the central government has deepened the already existing mistrust of the government by the governed. This lack of trust seriously jeopardizes the battle against coronavirus especially if it were to be led by the state.”

Kwakwaso said that in times of crisis such as this, a robust and unifying leadership that will assure the citizens that it understands and shares its concerns was needed.

He however noted that it was unfortunate that the state government was even denying that there was an unusual surge in the number of deaths in the state.

Noting that the lack of trust seriously jeopardises the battle against coronavirus especially if it were to be led by the state, the former governor said the state government had also failed to provide the required leadership needed at a critical time like this.

He accused the state government of engaging in a tug-of-war with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, the federal agency vested with the responsibility of coordinating the fight against the disease, right from the time the index case was recorded in the state.

“This is very counterproductive to the people of the state and a serious impediment to the success of the nation in the fight against the disease. Especially given the fact that as at today, the NCDC Covid-19 test center at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH) has closed down “due to lack of reagents”.

Suggesting the way forward, Kwakwanso called on the Federal Government to take over the rapid response on coronavirus in Kano because the state government had failed to provide required leadership needed at this time.

He also demanded that the state should be compelled to constitute a proper taskforce on Covid-19 based on professionalism, competence.

He advised that the Taskforce should designate trained medical personnel in all cemeteries across the state that will collect records of all deaths, while another team of medical personnel follow up with inquiry of the cause of death.

“Furthermore, those that attended to the sick and those prepared the dead body for burial should also be identified, isolated and contact traced for testing,” he added.

Kwalkwanso said that since it was undeniable that there was a spike in the number of death, the state government and the citizens should treat and consider all deaths as if it were caused by the virus.

“Therefore all protocols as advised by medical experts be observed whenever death occurs,” he advised.

The former governor also called for at least additional five test centres and 10 sample collection centres in the state.

He also called for an independent Federal Government team of experts to investigate the rise in cases of death in the elderly population across the state.

On the issue of palliatives, Kwakwanso advised that such should be generous and general as the virus did not belong to any political party just as hunger and poverty were not partisan.