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Kano city is now the killing field of COVID-19 pandemic in Africa–Prof. Yusuf

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By Prof. Usman Yusuf

25th April 2020

I raised alarm in an article I wrote which was published in the Daily Trust Newspaper (page 6) on April 22nd, 2020 on how COVID-19 was ravaging Kano city. I opined that if urgent action was not taken by the Federal Government, the city could become the epicenter of the virus on the African continent. Recognizing the disastrous consequences of such a scenario, I offered recommendations that could help stem the slide.

Today, I raise my voice again, this time to join the growing chorus of people both within and outside the State who are horrified by Kano State Government’s (KNSG) cavalier response to this pandemic seeing it as a growing danger to the lives of people in Kano, its neighbors and also a threat to our National Security.

Nigeria as a nation needs to wake up to the ever-present danger of the cascading domino effect of COVID-19 infection in Kano spreading to the Northwest zone, the Northwest zone infects the rest of the North, the North infects the whole nation, Nigeria infects the West African subregion, which then infects the rest of Africa, thereby destabilizing the whole continent.

A heart-breaking audio clip making rounds on social media of a grieving grandmother who had just lost her son-in-law to COVID-19 in Kano city sums up the feeling of helplessness of people in the city. She was venting her frustrations at NCDC officials in Kano who switched off their phones and those at their HQ. in Abuja that refused to return her calls when she desperately needed them. She narrated how her son-in-law was initially taken to a Private Hospital then transferred to Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH) where he died shortly after arrival.

It is now common knowledge in Kano that NCDC officials in the city are not responding to people’s distress calls because they are short-staffed and have no working materials or Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). This unacceptable situation has resulted in many of them being infected by the virus, resulting in the closure of the only test center in Kano.

Below is an example of one of the many distress calls and text messages I have been receiving from unknown Kano residents:

“Good afternoon Prof., One of my staff lost his mother today Friday 24th, April 2020 to circumstances similar to COVID-19 with (sudden fever, coughing, and rapid breathing). When we went to bury her ​at 9.30 am​, we discovered that my mother’s body was the 18th to be buried since dawn (a time span of 3-4 hours). Why is the Kano State Governor denying COVID-19 deaths in Kano? People should please speak up and get us help.”

There are also reliable reports indicating that cemetery workers in the city have been censored and directed by State officials not to give any interviews divulging the number of burials.
The Kano State Government (KNSG) is clearly downplaying and denying these deaths just like officials in Wuhan, China did at the beginning of the pandemic. In fact, the Governor appeared on Channels TV, spouting these denials while in the same breath asking for N15b aid from the Federal Government. The next day, his Commissioner of Health appeared on the same Station stating it was just 640 deaths in six days. Kano State, in spite of its population density, is the most notorious state where social distancing measures are least enforced and obeyed, with youths still playing football while gatherings in mosques and weddings continue as if all is well.

As a result of his negligence, Gov. Ganduje is also exporting COVID-19 to the neighboring states of Katsina and Jigawa by repatriating hundreds of Almajiris who are most likely infected by COVID-19 to their States of origin. This, in my opinion, was a very thoughtless and dangerous action.

The Governor initially set up a State Task Force with his daughter as a member. Despite being a Medical Resident, she is said to wield so much power that even the Deputy Governor defers to her and the educated views of senior medical professionals are not taken seriously. The task force is now virtually moribund since its key members went into isolation after testing positive for the virus.

I urge all sons and daughters of Kano wherever you are, to step up and raise your voices to save your people from this catastrophe, silence is not an option at this defining moment.

Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje must bear full responsibility before man and God Almighty for the chaos that is costing the lives of so many souls which is simply a reflection of his poor leadership, incompetence, corruption, and lack of compassion for his people.

The Federal Government needs to urgently step in to stem the rising death count before it is too late.

In summary

(a). COVID-19 death toll is undeniably rising daily in Kano

(b). KNSG lacks the will, capacity, compassion, transparency, or the trust of its people to arrest the situation

(c). KNSG is in denial and doing all in its power to hide these deaths.

(d). Healthcare workers in Kano are in mortal danger without PPE.

(e). Private Hospitals are shutting down due to fear of infecting their staff and for lack of capacity to deal with COVID-19 patients.

(f). Government hospitals are increasingly getting overwhelmed with poor staffing, lack of PPE, drugs, consumables, bed spaces, or ventilators.

(g). The only COVID-19 Testing Centre in Kano has now been shut down, leaving millions of people in the whole NW zone without access to testing.

(h). People are living in fear, uncertainty, anger, frustration, and feel abandoned by both the state and federal governments.

(i). Concerns about social unrest are real and should be taken seriously by both the State and Federal governments.

Recommendations

(I). Immediate and forceful Federal presence in Kano.

(ii). The Presidential Task Force should relocate to Kano and make it its new theatre of operation reporting to the President.

(iii). People should immediately be provided with food supplies to enable humane but strict enforcement of total lockdown, which remains the only way of breaking the spread of the virus.

(iv). The President should address the Nation on these deaths with specific plans on what the FGN will do.

(v). NCDC lab in Kano should immediately be opened with increased testing capacity.

(vi). Healthcare workers should immediately be provided with PPE.

(vii). Hospitals need drugs, consumables, ICU spaces, and ventilators.

(viii). All Deaths and infections from COVID-19 should be properly recorded.

(ix). Swabs should be taken for the COVID-19 test from all corpses to enable proper mapping of the spread of the virus and the protection of contacts.

(x). Recruit an Army of Contact Tracers from local Nurses and Community Health Extension Workers (CHEWS) to help in tracing contacts.

(xi). Engage Traditional, Religious, and Community leaders (xii). Aggressive public education campaign

Usman Yusuf is a Professor of Haematology-Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplantation.

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Shekarau advocates power shift to south

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Nasiru Yusuf

A former governor of Kano State, Ibrahim Shekarau, has urged the All Progressive Congress (APC) to field a southerner as its presidential candidate in 2023.

Ibrahim Shekarau says political power shift is necessary for all Nigerians to have a sense of belonging.

KANO FOCUS reports that Mr Shekarau, who is a serving senator, spoke in an interview with BBC Hausa Service on Wednesday. He said the idea is to ensure justice and fairness.

According to him, although rotational presidency is not written in APC’s constitution, he believes it is desirable for justice and fairness.

“For instance, the present six geopolitical zones are not reflected in Nigeria’s constitution, but it is a good arrangement. You cannot implement any policy in Nigeria without taking geopolitical zones into consideration.

“This is also the same with rotating the presidency between the North and the South. If we ignore power shift, we are not being fair to ourselves and we are not fair to history. In my opinion, power shift is necessary for all Nigerians to have a sense of belonging.

“I am of the opinion that, we should exercise patience and bring our brothers from the South close to us.

“You see, the North alone cannot produce the votes enough for the president. Likewise the South, it is only when we come together. My believe is not only geopolitical regions, there is no state in the federation that does not have a competent person to lead this country.

“Violating this arrangement will further divide Nigerians. Some will feel neglected or rejected,” Mr Shekarau said.

On the possibility of the opposition party fielding a northern candidate, the politician said both the PDP and APC face the same dilemma. “Each is trying to outsmart the other.

“My advice to the parties (APC and PDP) is they should not look at zoning from political exploitation, but what should be just and fair. Fair play and competence of the candidate should be the be the guiding principle,” he said.

Commenting on the defection of some politicians to the APC, Mr Shekarau described it as a remarkable success worthy of celebration.

He said: “within the last two months, two governors have defected to APC. It is quite a success. There are also groups and individuals who joined the party.

“However, there is a need to conduct congresses and elect party officials from the ward to national levels. There is also a need to set up a modality of how to spread political appointments across the country

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Kano gets 3,148 new polling units

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Mukhtar Yahya Usman

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has expanded the polling units in Kano state from 8,074 to 11,222 to create easy access to polling units.

Kano Focus reports that the INEC chairman, Mahmoud Yakubu revealed this to journalists on Wednesday in Abuja.

Mr Yakubu revealed that Kano Central has 1,978 more polling units while Kano South and Kano North have 658 and 513 respectively.

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The 10 local governments that have the highest number of additional polling units are Nassarawa 334, Kumbotso 220, Gwale 207, Tarauni 207, and Ungoggo 179.

Others are Dala 163, Fagge 163, Kano Municipal 160, Danbatta 94, and Dawakin Kudu 92.

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Nigerian Navy to establish desert warfare institute in Kano

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Nasiru Yusuf

The Chief of Naval Staff CNS Real Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo, has agreed to move Desert Warfare Institute to Kano.

KANO FOCUS reports that this was disclosed by, Chief of Policy and Plans, Nigerian Navy, COR Ezekobe

when he led a delegation to governor Ganduje at his office, in Kano, Wednesday, to brief the governor about development so far.

He said “We are here to actualize the fruitful engagement we had when His Excellency visited us on the 3rd of June. He Chief of Naval Staff directed me to lead this team in actualising some of the promises made to you when you visited the Naval headquarters.”

“Our project standing on 12 hectares of land, is a multi-purpose project. We are moving our Desert Warfare of our Special unit to Kano Your Excellency. This unit is highly trained in both United States of America and Britain. And they are recognized to be of best performance.”

“This is where we will use for a garment industry and other things that will be of significant benefit to the society.”

“We would like to develop a Barack, so that when the need arises we can defend ourselves and also the state. That will definitely help in improving the security of the state in particular and the nation in general.”

He requested that, the Chief of Naval Staff would want to deliver a lecture on Maritime in either Bayero University, Kano, for people here up North to understand the activities of the Nigerian Navy in the national scheme of things.

Ezkobe, a rear admiral in Nigerian Navy, requested another piece of land on behalf of the Naval Officers Wives Association (NOWA) for the establishment of hospital in the state.

“Naval Officers Wives Association (NOWA) is desirous of establishing a 200-bedded hospital in Kano. We also need to get a piece of land for this effort to see the light of the day,” he requested.

“Your Excellency we witnessed the tremendous development in your state. This is highly commendable Sir,” he concluded.

In his response, governor Ganduje appreciated the speed of the process for the visibility of the Nigerian Navy in the state, appreciating that, “We are so happy to have you here. I can see that the return match is so quick. This shows the level of seriousness from your part.”

“Your presence in Kano will definitely boost the morale of our youth in joining the Nigerian Navy. It will also improve our security of the state generally,” he stated.

“We are very much ready for all the requests you came with pertaining this and other projects for the development of the state. And for improving the security of our dear state. We are always ready.”

Concerning the Chief of Naval State Conference, Ganduje said the state would always be ready to see to the realisation of the proposed Conference, adding that, “For the Conference we will create an enabling environment for it to hold.”

“We will also facilitate for the proposed Maritime lecture by the Chief of Naval Staff in one of our universities. There is no doubt about this. Tell him he is always welcome.”

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