Kano’s COVID-19 Mess – 2: Dangerous Missteps of Ganduje

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By Femi Akintunde-Johnson

My people have a saying: the one who steals the hen of the miserable, has become the star character in vicious tales of attrition that will flood the community. Serves him right, doesn’t it? That scenario has been chiselled in bold relief with the devastating news coming out of the sprawling ancient city of Kano, and outlying communities.

We have, from last week, been exploring the eloquent allegations of one Kano medical practioner, Dr. Abdullahi Mohammed (we suspect that it is a num de plum, a fake name to.deflect official sanction or peer harassment). The article should have enjoyed more “virality” when we consider the weighty projections and ungarnished condemnations of the initial processes and clinical procedures adopted by the Kano State government, led by the uncharismatic Abdullahi Ganduje – and the Presidential Task Form of Boss Mustapha.

The good doctor’s prognostications have proven so uncannily accurate in his calamitous expectations that one is now seriously worried about the competence, or lack of it, in some states where cavalier handling and slipshod preemptive measures make it clear that some states governments grossly underestimated the virulence of this pandemic, or God forbid, some still harbour a childish insistence that the Coronavirus disease is possibly not as frightening as it has been made to appear. Kogi, Jigawa, Katsina, and other fringe states come to mind.

Sadly, the consequences for the fool-hardiness of state actors, and the criminal immaturity elaborately disguised as preventive and remedial measures would only end in the sufferings, pains and deaths of their citizens. Worryingly, there is nothing we have seen so far to indicate that they would be seriously aggrieved or sanctioned when the statistics of deaths and positive cases soar exponentially.

It is with such trepidation that we recall Dr. Mohammed’s posers and suggestions, and hope people and process indicted or fingered in the Covid-19 mess in Kano State, and other floundering states, would move beyond pettiness and self-serving posturing, and make prompt and penetrating amends.

“Worthy of note is that the Kano COVID-19 team was badly structured with sheer nepotism and packaged with less qualified folks. Those who should matter are not involved, probably for political reasons. The daughter of the Governor Ganduje (involvement) is (being) silly and overbearing and in consequence running down the activities of the committee. For inexplicable reasons too, KNSG is not in any form of synergy with the AKTH which is the highest medical facility in Kano. KNSG chose to deal with NCDC directly which has no bearing on the outcome profile of the patients load presenting to AKTH in particular and states health facilities.

This of course is because even at federal level, attention is more on the isolation centres without recourse to scenarios that will dangerously play out in the hospitals, Federal and states owned.”

(While one is not in a position to highlight the quality and accomplishments of the Kano Covid-19 Task Force, it is clear that the list is better balanced and intrinsic to the peculiarities of the matter than the federal PTF: chaired by the deputy governor, Dr. Nasiru Gawuna, who has a background in biochemistry; co-chaired by the Head of Infectious Diseases unit of Bayero University’s AKTH, Prof. Abdul-Razaq Habib; Kano’s Health Commissioner, Dr. Aminu Ibrahim Tsanyawa, and also Dr. Imam Wada Bello, the director of Public Health and Disease Control, who acts as the Secretary of the Task Force. Other members are Prof. Isa Sadiq Abubakar and Dr. Amina Abdullahi Ganduje (both from BUK); Dr Shehu Abdullahi, Director Medical Services, State Ministry of Health; Dr. Bashir Abba, State Coordinator, World Health Organisation (WHO); Dr Shamsuddeen Sani (from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation); Maulid Warfa, Chief of Field Office, UNICEF; and Dr Mustapha Tukur, State Lead, CDC/NSTOP. As it is the case of politically motivated social interventions, there are folks from here and there: representatives of all security agencies, of the Emirate Council, District Head of Ajingi, Secretary of the Red Cross and Director from the state Ministry of Information, Inuwa Idris Yakasai; among other stakeholders. The above motley crew would have caught the ire of the writer, especially the bare-faced inclusion of Ms Ganduje into what ought to be a high-powered, sensitive and expeditious technical assignment involving the lives and welfare of millions of Kano people. Such nuances cavalierly administered by the Abdullahi Umar Ganduje government deserves opprobrium from all and sundry, more so with the recent statistics of “unexplainable” deaths, and more tragic statistics from the state).

“Above all, as it stands now, we are in dire situation that warrants going back to the designing table not later than immediately! We must treat our situation as national emergency. Mr.

President and Governors are not doing enough and must sit up. All hands must be on deck 24/7, if we must defeat this war against coronavirus and avoid drifting into an extremely calamitous stage.

“The PTF COVID-19 should be re-jigged and synchronized with states COVID-19 committees and RRTs (Rapid Response Teams) with efficient lines and channels of communications. Professional bodies and experts should be more involved. A staged operational template that (with) clearly assigned roles for federal, states and private health care facilities be quickly designed and holistically implemented.

(Now, to solutions…the essence of discussions and recriminations…and then more specific suggestions, though edited, in the light of recent actions of government).
‘’Based on our local peculiarities, the following measures should be looked into, refined and implemented.

(1. Stop interstate travels. 2. Provide and make use of face masks mandatory to all residents in all the states, outside homes. 3. Make provisions (in) public places for hand washing with soaps and sanitisers. 4. Ban all forms of gatherings, including social and religious.)

5. Do extensive public health education and enlightenment on the behavior of the coronavirus… (including the) use of media and local jingles.

6. Mass testing to check community transmission in heavily hit states. More testing centres in states of the federation is needed.

7. And lastly, governments: federal and states should shut down other government activities/programs for now and in the interim concentrate on the survival and welfare of the citizens by providing far reaching palliatives.

(Though some of these suggestions have been activated, however belated, yet we encourage that those concerned swallow the better pill of laser-guided criticisms, and do the urgent and needful, for the sake of future generations in danger of being blighted by the scourge of Covid-19).