OPINION

Re: Nasiru El-Rufai’s Lockdown And The Spoilers At The Door, By Salihu Tanko Yakasai

I was highly surprised when I came across a piece with the above caption that appeared in the online edition of the Vanguard newspaper of Wednesday 3rd June 2020 pseudonymously penned by Rotimi Fasan.

Apart from the blatant misrepresentation and misinformation contained therein, the article is pregnant with sheer blame-game, opprobrium and aspersions against Kano State, its government and its good people aimed solely at hoodwinking the unsuspecting reading public.

What is more painful is that in all intents and purposes, the 19-paragraph article is an exercise in futility aimed at politicizing a serious health issue, it also shows lack of in-depth factual knowledge of the realities on the ground.

The “writer’s” politicization of the already uncoordinated fight against the Covid-19 pandemic is a clear disservice to the nation.

While Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano State has been making efforts to contain the pandemic without making any public fuss and is averse to apportioning any blame to others, others have resorted to using the pandemic to cast Kano State and his person in poor light in order to score a cheap political goal as if their future political success hinges on this. To say the least, this is unjustifiable, indefensible and arrantly unjust!

Why the “writer” has singled out Kano State out of the other 34 states and the FCT as a spoiler has baffled every discerning and unbiased reader to the core. In short, this article is a public relations stunt that has clearly failed to hit the target and this rejoinder is not aimed at paying the “writer” in the same coin but to clear his misrepresentation and misinformation for the sake of the present and posterity.

Before I address some of the issues raised in the article, it is very apropos to highlight that the Covid-19 virus surfaced in Kaduna State on 28th March 2020 before the index case was recorded in Kano State on 11th April 2020, an interval of two weeks, and the state government did not blame any state or individual for the spread of the virus.

Just as the index case in Kaduna contracted the disease elsewhere, so also the index case of Kano, along with the majority of the cases in Kano. As Muslims, we consign our affairs to the Almighty Allah Who decrees whatever will happen to His servants.

The “writer” should have been dispassionate enough to have consulted his friends in Kano (if he has any) in order to get firsthand information on the numerous measures taken by the state government to curtail the spread of the virus even before the first index case was recorded in the state after the patient had visited Lagos State and Abuja.

In Kano State, the government had taken all necessary measures to prevent the spread of the disease in the state even before the index case was recorded which included the closure of all public schools, establishment of a Taskforce Committee on Covid-19 under the chairmanship of the Deputy Governor, Alhaji Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna, the Appeal Fund Committee (the first State to do so) headed by the Vice-Chancellor of Bayero University, Kano to assist the victims and provide relief to the poor, the closure of all public offices, closure of all schools, the banning of passenger buses coming to the state even before the federal government banned inter-state travels, the 1-week lock-down of the state which was subsequently extended many a time, the provision of isolation centres for the quarantine and treatment of the patients, the closure of markets and banning of religious congregations in mosques and churches, the setting up of several mobile courts to prosecute violators, among others.

Even before the federal government took additional strict measures including the banning of inter-state travels, Gov. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje personally spearheaded the interception of some vehicles with passengers coming into the state including, from Kaduna State.

How did these vehicles pass through the state in broad daylight or did they emanated from the skies to land at the borders of Kano? Do they expect Gov. Ganduje to go to Kaduna or any neighbouring State to enforce the ban?

In fact, tens of vehicles laden with passengers were intercepted at Kano State borders and many were turned back or later fined by the many mobile courts established by the state government to prosecute the violators of the lockdown order. Is Ganduje expected to police all the borders of other neighbouring States as well? If as the ‘writer’ claims that Ganduje has failed to enforce the lockdown in Kano preventing people from going out or coming in, is Ganduje also expected to go to Kaduna and other neighbouring States to prevent people from going in or coming out of those States?

The “writer” should have done his homework well to have realized that the violation of the lockdown order is a nation-wide phenomenon in view of the nature of our society and interstate borders. I have seen many crowds of people in Lagos, Abuja and other states in violation of the lockdown, but they were not castigated by the “writer.” It seems what is good for the goose is not good for the gander! The football match in Kano state mentioned by the “writer” was a one-time thing, neither organized nor sanctioned by the state government but by some youth and security agents promptly arrested some people for the violation of the lockdown.

On the issue of almajirai, the “writer” was also off the mark by a wide margin. It should be recalled that the 19 northern state governors agreed to ban street begging especially by almajirai and to repatriate them to their respective states of origin.

It may interest the “writer” to know that Kaduna State is the first to repatriate 30,000 almajirai to their states of origin and it did so without adherence to protocol, neither were they tested for Covid-19. For example, Kaduna State did not officially hand over any almajirai to Kano State government officials but dumped them at motor parks and out of the almajirai dumped in Kano State some later tested positive of the coronavirus.

However, Kano State government did not publicly blame Kaduna State government over this which shows the maturity, decorum and foresight of Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje.

Unlike Kaduna State, Kano State officially hands over all repatriated almajirai to the officials of their states of origin after making sure that they do not have any Covid-19 symptoms. In fact, the would-be repatriated almajiris are usually camped, fed and treated for any diagnosed ailment before they are repatriated to their states of origin. So the argument that Kano State government intentionally or knowingly repatriates almajirai infected with Covid-19 virus does not hold water a bit.

Why should Kano State play the role of a spoiler as alluded by the “writer” still beats my imagination for in what way will we profit from this.

Harming any fellow human being especially a neighbour is against the injunctions of all divine religions and His Excellency, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje will be the last person to intentionally sanction the spread of a debilitating disease like Covid-19.

It is pathetic that despite all the measures taken by the federal and 36 state governments, the Covid-19 cases have increased to about 11,166 cases as at 4th June 2020 with Lagos State, Kano State and FCT Abuja having 5,440, 970 and 763 cases respectively while Kaduna State occupies 7th position with 297 cases.

If Kano State or any other state for that matter had been a spoiler as wrongly alleged by the “writer”, the Kaduna State figure might have been much higher. In this respect, His Excellency, Malam Nasir El Rufai deserves our commendation for his efforts to curtail the spread of the virus in Kaduna State.

Lifting of the ban by Kano State government on religious gatherings was not arbitrary but after due consultations with stakeholders and the state was not the first in the country to lift the ban. Even in countries like the US, Italy, Spain, Britain and Brazil, to mention but a few, where the highest number of cases and mortalities due to coronavirus are being recorded, the strict lockdown and banning of social gatherings, the authorities in these countries have to relax these restrictions.

So, to blame Kano state for not enforcing full restrictions on religious or social gatherings is not only mischievous but unfounded, because for the duration of the lockdown in the State, almost all the mosques and churches suspended holding religious gatherings.

What the country needs at this trying period is not passing the buck and politicization of serious issues like the current pandemic but concerted and coordinated efforts to save humanity from this serious health challenge.

If we did not blame the Italian citizen who was the first to bring the virus to our shores or Ogun State, does not blame its neighbourly sister, Lagos State, for the spread of the disease, then there is no basis to accuse anybody or government of being a spoiler for this is an unnecessary diversion which will not augur well for the country. This unwarranted and unnecessary blame-game needs to cease forthwith for the sake of humanity. Let me end this piece with a quote by George Washington Carver who says “Ninety-nine percent of all failures come from people who have a habit of making excuses.”

Salihu Tanko Yakasai is the Special Adviser on Media to the Governor of Kano State.

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