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COVID-19: When will the lockdown end?

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COVID-19

By: Nura Garba

Many people around the world have continued to ask several questions with regard to the lockdown being experienced which has kept them away from daily activities. The prominent of which is when will the lockdown end in the face of coronavirus?

It is no longer news that the spread of coronavirus has infected over 2.2 million people with more than 156,000 deaths, increasing concern over the continuous spread and fatalities in the coming weeks.

With over 33,000 deaths in America, the Vice President, Mike Pence projected 130,000 deaths in the country. This has sparked more fears and apprehension despite the fact that President Donald Trump has started mapping out plans for reopening of the country’s economy in phases. But experts warn against doing that now.

Since the directive of the two-week lockdown of three states of Abuja, Lagos and Ogun as part of the roll out plans to contain the spread of the virus by the President on 30th March, 2020, the virus has continued to rear its ugly head. This forced the President to add another two-week lockdown in the three states through a national broadcast on 11th April, 2020.

As it stands on Saturday, 18th April, 2020, 493 people have been tested positive in Nigeria and 17 people were confirmed dead. This further raises more concern especially with the rapid increase in positive cases and fatalities.

One area of concern is that 20 states in the country have been affected and stakeholders have projected that in few coming weeks all states would be affected.

Many Nigerian states have followed suits with the lockdown directives because experts argued that it is the best way to contain the spread of the virus.

Testing

Nigeria’s policy is one of targeted testing. This involves identifying those who are most likely to be infected, namely those who have just come back from other countries and those they have been in contact with.

In terms of contact tracing, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has identified between six and seven thousand contacts cumulatively. The focus of last week was to improve the level of contract tracing, made easier by the lockdown.

With contact tracing, each new case tends to have about 30-40 contacts to follow up. Every contact is followed up with for 14 days. To date, about 30% of all the cases in the country have been found via contact tracing.

Even though, we cannot compare our healthcare facilities with that of US, the rate at which people are tested is alarming. This is because only a little over 5,000 people were tested and the United States has rolled out plans to test 120,000 people daily. This is one area that Nigeria should expedite action in order to establish laboratories in all states of the federation.

In South Africa, in the face of increasing local transmission—and the threat of Covid-19 spreading to the majority of the country, who are not able to afford private healthcare or testing—the National Health Laboratory Service has said that by the end of April, it will be able to process approximately 36,000 tests in 24 hours.

Africa now has more than 1,000 deaths from COVID-19, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Saturday, with Nigeria currently has nearly 500 cases of the virus.

The World Health Organization noted a 51% increase in cases in Africa and a 60% jump in deaths in the past week. But the WHO chief warned that because of a shortage of testing “it’s likely the real numbers are higher than reported.”

The Honorable Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire  two days ago said that there are 12 functional COVID- 19 testing laboratories in Nigeria with a capacity to test 1,500 samples daily. This is quite unfortunate looking at the mass population. Nigeria 2020 population is estimated at 206,139,589 million people at mid -year according to United Nation data. Nigeria population is equivalent to 2.64% of the total world population. In view of this, how can we know the exact number of people with positive cases? That is why we still have somewhat inaccurate cases of covid 19 because of lack of testing laboratories.

For instance, with the population of South East and the nature of their people who usually travel outside the country and within the country especially Lagos and Abuja has far less cases of the virus compared to a single state of Kano with 27.  Does it mean they conceal their people from being tested or simply put it that there are no testing facilities in the region?

This is a critical time when the country must scale up testing samples in order to identify the positive cases with a view to containing them. If care is not taken Nigeria may face one of the biggest health challenges in history.

Abba Kyari’s Death

Nigeria recorded its first high profile death on Friday, 17th April, 2020, when the Chief of Staff to the President Muhammadu Buhari, Abba Kyari died of coronavirus complications. His death has triggered more concerns in the country to the danger associated with the virus and its deadly consequences.

Abba Kyari had earlier been tested positive following a trip to Germany and Egypt, according to Nigerian media. So, too, have at least three of his staffers. Nigerian media described Kyari as “very sick,” and that he had been removed from Abuja to an infectious disease treatment center in Lagos. Kyari reportedly began coughing heavily during a meeting that included, among others, the president and vice president.

The Progressive Governors Forum has described the death of the Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari, as a call for united action against the spread of COVID-19.

Chairman of the forum and Governor of Kebbi State, Abubakar Bagudu, said this in a statement he signed and made available to newsmen in Abuja, via email, on Saturday.

Bagudu said, “The death of Mallam Abba is a further call on all Nigerians to be united in the fight against the spread of COVID-19.

“As Progressive Governors, we, on this sad day, hereby re-affirm our unconditional support to the laudable initiatives of the President Buhari-led Federal Government.”

The forum said it received news of the death of the presidential aide with heavy heart and gratitude to Allah (SWT) for a life well blessed.

The statement further read, “We, the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), join the family, President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR and the nation to pray for the repose of the soul of our dear and beloved Mallam Abba Kyari. His death is a loss to the nation and the Nigerian progressive community.

“We pray to God Almighty to grant the family the fortitude to bear this heavy loss. May Allah reward all the good work of Mallam Abba, forgive his limitations and bless what he left behind.

“We call on all Nigerians, irrespective of our political, religious, ethnic, social status or any other differences, to support the Federal Government in the fight against this deadly virus.

Many Nigerians have prayed for the repose of the deceased and the family to have the fortitude to bear the loss.

Will the lockdown be relaxed?

As it is globally, many countries are extending the lockdown directive due to the rising cases of the pandemic as the situation is becoming beyond their control.

In Nigeria, with the demise of Abba Kyari and the increase in the cases to almost 500, it is unlikely that the lockdown will be relaxed. Some states are yet to record the covid-19 cases but implemented the lockdown measure. Other states with that have not taken measures should do so to contain the virus before it spreads.

Nigerians should continue to stay at home and observe social distancing as a way of precautionary measures to contain the spread of the virus. “I know the difficulties Nigerians have been facing through the lockdown,” said Mr. President in his second national broadcast last week.

The Director Centre Centre for Infectious Diseases Research (CIDR), Bayero University, Kano, Professor Isa Abubakar warned states against relaxing the lockdown, saying that it is too early and risky to do that at least for now.

In an interview with the Daily Trust Newspaper, Prof Abubakar stated that “that is categorically a very wrong step to take because we are watching what is happening across the globe. The pandemic is ravaging developed countries, many are being infected every second, and many are still dying with the disease. I do not know what informed the decision of the state governors to start relaxing the lockdown. That is ill advised,” he argued.

From the way things are going, the two-week lockdown extension given by the President Buhari on three states and similar directive imposed by some state governors in the country may be extended. Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa has extended the lockdown indefinitely.

The Kano State Governor, Dr. Abdullahi Ganduje has imposed a one-week lockdown in the state. The state has now recorded 27 cases with one death and according to health experts many cases are on the offing due to negligence and attitude of the people. “Some people in Kano still do not believe that the corona virus exists, health expert in the state said.

“This is a serious issue that must be given serious attention. We have taken drastic measures to curtail the spread of the virus,” said Governor Abdullahi Ganduje.

Palliatives to the Rescue

This is the time that the government, legislators and philanthropic individuals should be up to the task by supporting the people because no one knows when the lockdown will end.

Government should consider its masses especially in northern Nigeria where most people live from hand to mouth because there will come a time when people may not understand the stay at home measures if they don’t have what to eat.

But for now, people must respect the government’s directives to stay at home, observe social distancing and wash hands regularly with sanitizers and water to avoid contracting the virus.

Only God knows when the lockdown will end, but we should pray fervently and seek Allah’s intervention to bring this pandemic to an end.

Nura Garba writes from Bayero University, Kano.

You can reach him via garbanbuk@gmail.com

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Opinion

Childhood killer diseases: NGO gets $29m grants to reach 1m caregivers

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An International Non-Governmental Organization, New Incentive, said it has received a grant of $29 million under it project – All Babies Are Equal targeted to reach over one million caregivers and immunize their infants against childhood killer diseases in four Northwest States .

Kano Focus reports that the four Northern states are Katsina, Jigawa, Zamfara and Sokoto.

These childhood killer diseases include, tuberculosis, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B, Haemophilus influenzae type B, pneumococcal disease and measles.

The Stakeholder Relations Director, of the NGO Nura Muhammad disclosed this at a stakeholders meeting with the benefiting states held in Kano.

Muhammad said the grant would be disbursed as conditional cash transfer to support the caregivers to ensure they avail their infants for the Immunization.

He said, “New Incentive – All Babies Are Equal, NI-ABAE has received commitments of over $29 million of funding over the next 3 years to reach over 1 million caregivers and their infants in Jigawa, Katsina, Zamfara, and Sokoto States.

This covers expansion to 35 LGAs with continued operations through Dec 2023.

“The organization aims to reduce child mortality through cost-effective and evidence-based health interventions.

In Nigeria, the organization operates as the All Babies Are Equal Initiative and implements the conditional cash transfers (CCT) for routine immunization (CCTs for RI) program.

“The flagship CCTs for RI program operated by ABAE disburses cash incentives to caregivers conditional on infants receiving four vaccines: BCG (against tuberculosis), PENTA (against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type b), PCV (against pneumococcal disease), and MCV (against measles).

These vaccinations are part of the routine schedule for infant immunizations in Nigeria and are provided at no cost to the caregiver through government-supported clinics.

Upon confirmation of their infant receiving a vaccine, the caregiver receives ₦500 for the first four routine immunization visits and ₦2,000 for the fifth visit.

“The cash transfers compensate for transport, lost trading income, and waiting time while creating behavioural change through awareness of routine immunizations.

“The CCTs for RI Program has been implemented in the states of Katsina, Zamfara, 2017 while Jigawa in 2018.

To date, the program has enrolled over 390,000 infants whose caregivers have received over 1 billion naira in conditional cash transfers.

An independent impact assessment of NI-ABAE’s CCTs for RI program (2017 – 2020) found that the program increases the likelihood that children would be fully immunized by 27 percentage points, and increases rates of individual vaccinations by 14 to 21 percentage points.

Beyond vaccination, the assessment found that the program contributed to improved knowledge about vaccination among caregivers in the catchment areas served by the program.

“Immunization is one of the most effective public health interventions, saving 2 to 3 million lives yearly (WHO) and there is evidence that suggests a 27 percentage points increase in the likelihood that children would be fully immunized by a conditional cash transfers for routine immunization program (NI-ABAE RCT Impact Assessment 2017-2020),” the Stakeholder Relations Director, Nura Muhammad however said.

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Opinion

Meet Abdul: The most talented Dabo Babies player of all time

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Picking out the footballing stars of the future is a tricky task.

There are so many factors which could hinder the progression of even the most professional of teenagers.

But some do seem destined to reach the top, while others display a work ethic that’s even greater than the natural talent at their disposal.

The second paragraph could be the case with Dabo Babies talented, 19-year-old forward Abdul Attacker.

He burst onto the scene when he was playing for a local club, Golden Bullet and was snapped up by famous Dabo Babes FC after the departure of former Nigeria U-20 star, Nazifi Yahaya.

And has since caught the attention of football enthusiast across the country with his brilliant display for Dabo Babes.

Abdul tormented four-time Nigeria Professional Football League Champions, Kano Pillars FC after he scored twice against the Sai Masu Gida in a friendly match before the kickoff of the second stanza of the just concluded 2020/2021 Nigeria Professional Football League season (NPFL).

He was the catalyst to Dabo Babes good run to the Kano state Tofa Premier League title driving the famous academy from game to game until they reach the final.

The dazzling forward produces mouthwatering display to earn himself accolades from the Pen Profession who could not hide their love for the next Super Star during the Tofa Premier League final.

He likes his game to that of Real Madrid forward, Karim Benzema and Bayern Munich deadly striker, Robert Lewandowski.

The 19-year-old’s talent and versatility has some people wondering whether he could be a bolster for the Nigeria National U-20 team, the Flying Eagles for their upcoming assignments.

As preparations for the 2020/21 Nigeria Professional Football League season gearing towards climax, many top clubs are interested in snapping him to bolster their squad as well as few other European top teams.

He has scored 55 goals and provided further 22 assists for Dabo Babes in less than three and a half years.

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Opinion

Lamido, Jega celebrate NEPU @ 71 

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Aminu Kano

Dr. Nuruddeen Muhammad 

Yesterday, Sunday, the 8th of August, 2021, I accompanied His Excellency Dr Sule Lamido  (CON) who was the speaker at a symposium organised by the Aminu Kano Centre for Democratic Studies, Bayero University Kano (Mambayya House) to commemorate the 71st anniversary of the founding of the Northern Elements Progressives Union (NEPU), with the theme; ‘Politics of Principles and the Phenomenon of Political Party Defections in Nigeria’.

Sule Lamido

The event which held under the distinguished chairmanship of the cerebral Dr. Tijjani Muhammad Naniya, also had the ebullient Dr. Auwalu Anwar as the sole discussant. While Professor Attahiru Jega, Professor Dandatti Abdulkadir, Dr. Akilu Sani Indabawa, Professor Hafiz Abubakar, Professor Sule Bello, Dr. Nasir Fagge, former NEPU/PRP regional, federal and state parliamentarians, women and youth leaders from across the country, notably Kano, Jigawa, Katsina and Kaduna States all ran incisive commentaries.

Prof. Dandatti Abdulkadir

The cacophony of voices were as fierce as they were sharply different in tone, content and delivery. But by far, that which stood out and generated most responses was Dr Lamido’s lead assertion that the raison d’etre for the NEPU/PRP ideological and political initiatives was to liberate the common folks (the Talakawas), first from the clutches of the combined reppression of the colonial overloads and their willing surrogates in the Native Authority establishments in Northern Nigeria, and the restrictions placed on them in political participation, aspirations and freedoms.

He forcefully argued that the movements have achieved on both counts as the children of yesterday’s Talakawas are today the new overloads and oppressors who deny their fellow Talakawas quality leadership as presidents, governors, parliamentarians, ministers, council chairmen and their councils. He concluded that the movements (atleast as organised political actions) should rest and cease to exist. And that today’s progressives should instead leverage around available political opportunities/platforms to confront the existing selfish order using present day political sentiments and realities as mobilization tools.

Prof. Hafiz Abubakar

But recalling copiously from memory, the lead speaker canvassed for an ideological graft transplant from the NEPU/PRP days in ways that the moral and ethical characters of both politics and governance of today can benefit from the sound value systems of old oder.

He narrated how he first resigned as a member of the House of Representatives in Lagos in 1983 purely on moral grounds, and then flew to Kano to convince the then Governor Alhaji Abubakar Rimi to do same as the governor of the old Kano State when the duo defected from the People’s Redemption Party (PRP) that gave them the mandates in the first place.

He then described the present phenomenon of political party defections in Nigeria as the worst form of corruption.

This profound submission drew a symphony of responses from today’s PRP practitioners who are mostly academics. Leading the park was Professor Attahiru Jega who argued that without justice in leadership and the level of impunity as is the case today, the NEPU/PRP cause has just begun and asked Sule Lamido to come lead the national onslaught.

Many other PhDs and Professors joined in the call that Lamido would later say lacked sufficient local and broader national political insight. It is significant to note that I was to totally align myself with the Sule Lamido’s perspective of the argument only yesterday, having engaged with him for over a decade on the same exact topic as the Jegas had done yesterday at Mambayya.

I am now fully convinced that the NEPU/PRP politics exclusively represented yesterday’s political sentiments and realities in the North with no much utility for either our present political and social circumstances or broader national appeal.

Sule Lamido, Dr Nuruddeen Muhammad and other guests

The Mambayya rendezvous is prehaps the only remaining theatre in Nigeria where political practitioners, activists and ideologues meet political researchers, theorists and even wannabees in a real time intellectual brawl. Bayero University Kano is both creative and thoughful in this annual ritual. Mallam Aminu Kano and his comrades had lived a very politically active, intellectually robust, and ideologically/philosophically sound lives to deserve this honour.

When academic excellence and classroom sense meet self taught philosophers and the practical hands on the streets, a cetain unique flavour emerges. Yesterday’s flavor has unfortunately left a distinctively sour test in my mouth. The fact that the Talaka is today his very own oppressor is a very bitter pill for some of us to swallow. And even more bitter is the second fact that the second on coming liberation of the Talakawas (from themselves this time around) will have to invent it’s devices with no NEPU/PRP emotional relic to rely on.

This, on a very personal note, was a befitting way to round off my three weeks extended sallah visit in Jigawa.

Dr. Muhammad was Nigeria’s former Minister of State for Foreign Affairs & Federal Minister of Information as

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