By Abdulmumin Giwa
Prior to the index case of the Corona Virus pandemic in Kano state, the state governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, had instituted the expected preventive measures as a means of curbing its spread, lest it makes its way to the state. He established and is establishing isolation centres in advance of the index COVID-19 case in the state and mobilised health experts and placed then on a ready to act position. Even on Thursday 11th of June Governor Ganduje commissioned two more testing centres with the capacity of 390 daily. The result of these actions is a diary with a difference, a diary that sets a historic benchmark and reference for future generations.
Governor Ganduje was the first to take the lead in shutting down state boarders as a means of curbing an interstate spread of COVID-19 in the country. He announced the closure from midnight of 27th of March 2020 issuing a warning two days earlier that “Even if somebody comes to the state through the domestic wing, he would remain in the airport without being allowed to get into the city. Or go back to where he comes from.”
He announced the preventive protocols of the COVID-19 to the public and tasked them to be responsible as citizens.
For enforcement and security, on the 25th of March 2020, the Kano state Governor had engaged the the services of the Police, KAROTA, HIZBAH, NCDC, NRSC and Vigilante groups in all parts of the state.
Kano being a renowned commercial hub in West Africa, it is certainly oblivious to presume that the said pandemic will not find its way to the state. Alas, fifty days ago the index case, a 75 year old former Ambassador was officially announced on 11th of April 2020 when the victim willingly submitted himself to the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, NCDC.
Earlier, on the 23rd of March, 2020, Governor Ganduje was quick to present a 3-point agenda in his planned battle with the disease in the most populous and indeed the most vulnerable state in Nigeria. The 3-point agenda is to tackle preventive, curative and palliative measures of curbing the spread of the pandemic in the state. He immediately constituted the Taskforce Committee on COVID-19 headed by the Deputy Governor, Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna and Co-chaired by a renowned professor and expert on the fight against communicable diseases, Prof Abdulrazaq Garba Habib, Head of Infectious Disease Department of Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital. Other members also include state coordinators of both the World Health Organization, WHO, UNICEF, and other professionals thereby giving it a serious face.
By 28th March 2020, Governor Ganduje had started fumigating all public places including markets and hospitals, an operation that took place on last Saturdays of every month, the Sanitation Day.
More so, with the hardships envisaged in some of the very necessary steps to be taken in the fight against COVID-19, a Fund Raising Committee was also inaugurated on Tuesday 28th of March 2020 to source for funds and other items to not only fight against the spread of COVID-19 in the state, but to also cushion the effects of the necessary stay at home order imposed by the state government on the populace. This committee is headed by the Vice Chancellor of Bayero University Kano, Prof Yahuza Bello.
The committee was able to identify 300,000 poorest of the poor households across the state, especially the metropolis to benefit from palliatives distributed. The distribution is planned in phases of 50,000 households each of which it is about to engage in the 3rd phase already.
Preparatory to the preventive and curative measures being taken by the state government, ‘sons of the soil’ were also drawn in to take responsibility and play roles in the life saving activity. The richest man in Africa Aliko Dangote promised to convert the Sani Abach Township Stadium into a 600-beds Isolation Centre, in addition to mobile laboratories he had donated.
Aware of the reality that spiritual intervention was equally necessary even as physical actions are put in place, Governor Ganduje thanked the people of the state for observing fast on Monday 30th of March 2020 to seeks God’s intervention in the plight that had befallen the state and indeed the nation at large. Indeed, the spiritual intervention worked as witnessed in the mild way the pandemic was surging.
Groups and individuals were convinced by the commitment of the state Governor and the seriousness with which he was administering the state in the fight against the spread of COVID-19 that they wanted to be part of it. The Lebanese Community on the 4th of April donated food items worth N100m, Banks, Chinese Community, Igbo Community, Aminu Dantata, BUA, Dangote, and others too numerous to mention donated vehicles, food, cash, facemasks, test kits and several other items to support the ever working Governor.
Governor Ganduje set out to mobilise health workers, the front liners in the battle against the global pandemic, and offered them a special package as a show of appreciation to the services they render to humanity. As other states are busy cutting health workers pay, Governor Ganduje on 11th of April announced that he was arranging a package for doctors, nurses and laboratory technicians in the front line. He also announced that they are going to be provided sufficient Personal Protective Equipments, PPEs to help them stay safe as they save the lives of the populace.
With an upsurge in the number of those infected by the novel Corona Virus in Kano, the state Governor had no choice but to announce the harsh but necessary measure of total lockdown for a week on Thursday, 16th April, 2020. Also considering the population and vulnerability of the state, Governor Ganduje went ahead to call on the Director General of the NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu to establish a test center in Kano to shun the Lagos and Abuja monopoly, while on a visit to the state. Observant of the hard work in place in Kano, Dr Ihekweazu commended the state as having the best machinery in place to fight COVID-19 in the country. He was highly impressed.
Governor Ganduje further established a technical response team on 21st of April 2020 to ease reach out to victims of the the virus and to reduce community transmission. He appointed Dr Tijjani Hussain, the Executive Director Primary Healthcare Management Board as the Coordinator of the Technical Response Team.
On the other hand, the Federal Government could not stand out in the successes being achieved by Kano state especially as it had not contributed financially to the state as it did to Lagos and Ogun states even as Kano was its polls support base. On Tuesday 28th of April, 2020, a Ministerial Task Team headed by Dr Sani Gwarzo was sent in and given a marching order by the Federal Government to be in Kano and find out what the state needs in ousting the COVID-19 pandemic. On the Task Team was also Prof Abdusalam Nasidi, the first pioneer Director General NCDC, an expert in Infectious Diseases Control.
By Saturday, 16 May 2020, the Ministerial Task Team had declared Kano the North’s Centre for Manpower Training in the fight against COVID-19. It was disclosed by Dr Gwarzo, the head of the team after the days experience he had working with the state Governor and could not but commend the selflessness and commitment of the Governor.
As a commercial community affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is only natural that business will not be as usual. There was an outcry on the unprecedented inflation in the prices of essential commodities in the state. This was adding to the hardship of the populace under the pandemic and the Governor Ganduje could not look the other way. On Thursday 30th of April 2020, he summoned a meeting with market leaders in the state to rectify the situation. He made them understand that there was no need for price increase or hoarding of products. To ensure that the populace was protected from opportunity seekers to get rich quick Governor Ganduje further announced that the State Anti-graft Commission will go after violators. He saved the populace from the unprecedented inflation and prices were controlled.
On 10th May 2020, Governor Ganduje had announced that the state had 5000 volunteer health workers ready to join the front line in the fight against COVID-19. The state, targeting 600 well trained manpower against COVID-19 pandemic, trained 300 on techniques of fighting the pandemic. Amongst those trained were 119 doctors and nurses. The Governor had earlier on Friday 8th May 2020 donated PPEs to private hospitals across the state to encourage them against absconding from their services for fear of contracting the virus due to its essential nature. He was at Mecca Specialist Hospital, Nuhu Bamalli Hospital, Dala Orthopedic and others by himself to present the donations of the PPEs.
As an advocate of the protocols against the spread of COVID-19, Governor Ganduje took a step forward to not only make the wearing of facemask compulsory in the state but to also launch a campaign to that effect. On 12 March 2020, he flagged off the distribution of two million facemasks across the state. Government officials were directly involved in the scheme at all levels for efficiency and outreach.
Governor Ganduje clearly understood the need for community healthcare engagement and involvement in the success of the fight against COVID-19. This made the Governor to bring together the traditional leaders made up of the five Emirs in the state along with the District, Village and Ward leaders on the 12th of April 2020 to spell out their roles for them and how to achieve them.
With six isolation centres in the state, the state Governor also hearken to popular demands in the state by establishing the one and only all female isolation centre in the country. This was opened at Nasarawa Local Government and named Daula Female Isolation Centre on 14th May 2020. Earlier on 19th of March 2020 a Zonal Sample Collection Centre had been commissioned in Rano also to hearken to public demands.
Governor Ganduje had taken the fight against COVID-19 to Kano Correctional Centre when he freed 294 inmates on Sunday 25th March 2020 to depopulate the centre and reduce risk of transmission of the virus there.
Corona Virus Disease had not only threatened lives but has also threatened economy by projecting a scary vision of the post pandemic situation. Unemployment will rise to the maximum as a lot of jobs have been lost lost to the pandemic. Governor Ganduje was quick to commence the implementation of strategies to ease the situation afore hand. On the 8th of June 2020, Governor Ganduje met with industrialists in the state to mull strategies to face recession after the pandemic. He tasked them to evolve working and scientific strategies to face the eventualities that would crop up after the pandemic. The Governor went further to allow youth employers to enjoy the relaxed lockdown in the state by opening Viewing Centres. He insisted that it would not be business as usual because all the preventive protocols must be implemented in those centres as a condition to which they agreed.
This is indeed is a benchmark set by Governor Ganduje and a historic reference of how to fight any pandemic any time in history. It is a display of not only commitment and dedication to the public but also excellent skills of administration in which result yielding steps are taken by those in authority.