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Take over COVID-19 response from Ganduje before it is too late–Kwankwaso warns Buhari

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Rabiu Kwankwaso

Nazifi Dawud

A former governor of Kano state, Rabiu Kwankwaso has warned President Muhammadu Buhari to take control of the COVID-19 rapid response from the Kano state government before the disease overwhelms the state.

Mr Kwankwaso, issued the warning in a lengthy letter addressed to the President and obtained by KANO FOCUS on Monday.

Expressing concern over surging deaths, especially of elderly people in the state, the former governor complained no investigation was conducted to ascertain the alarming rate of deaths.

“Hundreds of funerals have been recorded in all the cemeteries of the eight metropolitan local governments alone.

“Looking at the pattern elsewhere in the world where senior citizens with preexisting conditions were the main fatalities of the novel coronavirus, we are concerned that the inability to conduct tests in the state to determine the status of these senior citizens might be responsible for their death,” he wrote.

Mr Kwankwaso further lamented that the Kano state government under Abdullahi Ganduje, has no active COVID-19 response team, adding that the committee handling the disease is led by “unqualified and incompetent” team.

“What was hitherto, working as a covid-19 committee was a contraption of cronies that are both unqualified and incompetent. As such they kowtow to the whims of politicians without any regards to professional healthcare considerations.

“The committee technically disbanded itself when majority of the members were tested positive for Covid-19.

“I should inform Mr. President that since the announcement of the positive results of the members of the committee, no test was ever conducted in the entire state again.

“This is very frightening as neither asymptomatic nor active cases are being identified and isolated, as such carriers of this dreaded virus are all about and spreading it and causing untimely death of especially our senior citizens,” the ex-governor said.

Read the full letter below:

Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso writes Buhari:

His Excellency
President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR
President Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces Federal Republic of Nigeria
Aso Rock Villa, State House, Abuja.

COVID-19 AND THE RISING INCIDENCES OF MYSTEROUS DEATHS IN KANO STATE: A CALL ON THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT FOR URGENT ACTION TO SAVE LIVES

May I start by conveying my heartfelt condolence over the death of 32 Nigerians including Mr. President’s Chief of Staff, Malam Abba Kyari following their infection with the deadly coronavirus; may the souls of our departed countrymen rest in peace and may those who are tested positive for coronavirus have a speedy recovery.

Mr. President, I feel obliged to write this letter to you for five reasons: one is the very scary rise in the number of people that are mysteriously dying in Kano every day since the commencement of the fight against Covid-19 and the eventual lockdown of the state; two is the uncoordinated and unprofessional manner in which the fight against the disease in Kano state is being waged and the attendant and unprecedented mistrust of the government by the governed; three is the near absence of cooperation and coordination between the state and the federal government on the covid-19 response; four is the frightening reality of the tendency of the present health emergency (which has already placed unbearable financial burden on both the citizens and the nation) to metamorphose into a security emergency; and five, is to offer some suggestions in the overall interest of the good people of Kano State and the success of the national effort against the covid-19 pandemic.

Permit me Mr. President to draw your attention to the spike in mystery deaths among the aged population in Kano State in the last couple of weeks. Hundreds of funerals have been recorded in all the cemeteries of the eight metropolitan local governments alone. Looking at the pattern elsewhere in the world where senior citizens with preexisting conditions were the main fatalities of the novel coronavirus, we are concerned that the inability to conduct tests in the state to determine the status of these senior citizens might be responsible for their death. We are even more concerned that if sincere and efficient machinery is not urgently put in place to understand and mitigate against this, more lives of innocent senior citizens will be lost.

At present, and to all intent and purposes, the state has practically no Covid-19 response committee. What was hitherto, working as a covid-19 committee was a contraption of cronies that are both unqualified and incompetent. As such they kowtow to the whims of politicians without any regards to professional healthcare considerations. The committee technically disbanded itself when majority of the members were tested positive for Covid-19. I should inform Mr. President that since the announcement of the positive results of the members of the committee, no test was ever conducted in the entire state again. This is very frightening as neither asymptomatic nor active cases are being identified and isolated, as such carriers of this dreaded virus are all about and spreading it and causing untimely death of especially our senior citizens. The stoppage of the tests coupled with series of revelations from within the isolation centre in Kano together with the state persistence in asking for financial assistance from the central government has deepened the already existing mistrust of the government by the governed. This lack of trust seriously jeopardizes the battle against coronavirus especially if it were to be led by the state.

Mr. President in times of crisis like this, we require a robust and unifying leadership that will assure the citizens that it understands and shares its concerns; but unfortunately, the State Government is even denying that there is an unusual surge in the number of deaths in the state. This denial has also cultivated mistrust and doubt on the part of the citizens as the state government have failed to provide the desired leadership required at a critical time like this.

Mr. President everywhere in the world, the fight against pandemic is being spearheaded and superintended by central governments. The W.H.O. and such other global bodies, for example, have no business liaising with states on matters of global pandemic. But right from the first recorded case in Kano, the state government was in a tug of war with the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the federal agency vested with the responsibility of coordinating the fight against the disease. This is very counter-productive to the people of the state and a serious impediment to the success of the nation in the fight against the disease. Especially given the fact that as at today, the NCDC COVID-19 test centre at Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH) has closed down ‘due to lack of reagents’.

Kano is the most populous state in the country and Kano city is one of the biggest in Africa. Experts have expressed concern that if the Kano situation is not handled professionally, sincerely, efficiently and competently, we have the tendency of becoming the epicenter of this disease in Africa in a matter of months. Every sincere leader should be concerned about this. Everything that ought to have been in place: from advocacy and awareness campaign to sensitize the public, to the provision of support (material, medical and emotional) to the citizens is conspicuously absent in Kano. Mr. President, in a state like Kano where large majority of its inhabitants earned their living from the informal sector and where big chunk of its citizens live below poverty line, there is no gainsaying that sustaining the lockdown in Kano demands that people are not left hungry. Any support in this regard should not be made on partisan basis. At the moment, the state government palliatives are being distributed based on political patronage (4 persons in each polling unit of 500 persons). This is grossly inadequate. A hungry and angry population cannot be kept in lockdown for too long!

Mr. President, these concerns are what prompted me to write to you to proffer some suggestions that might go a long way to help in the fight against the virus in Kano State. It is my prayer that Mr. President consider the following:

1. The situation in the state should not be seen by Mr. President as a state government matter that should be left to the state. The lives of tens of millions of Nigerians living in Kano state is at stake, as such the central government should be seen to be actively involved in caring for, and saving their lives. There is need for empathy;

2. The federal government should take over the responsibility of rapid response on coronavirus in the state;

3. The State Government should be made to constitute a proper State Taskforce on COVID-19 with members selected base on their professionalism and competence;

4. At least five additional test centres should be established with 10 other sample collection centres across the State;

5. The Taskforce should designate trained medical personnel in all cemeteries across the state that will collect records of all deaths. While another team of medical personnel follow up with inquiry of the cause of death. Furthermore, those that attended to the sick and those that prepared the dead body for burial should also be identified, isolated and contact traced for testing;

6. Since it is undeniable that there is a spike in the number of death and it is probable that these deaths are either as a result of COVID-19 or some other illness, the State Government and citizens should treat and consider all deaths as if it is caused by the virus; therefore all protocols as advised by medical experts be observed whenever death occurs;

7. An independent Federal Government team of experts should be mandated to investigate the rise in cases of death in the elderly population across the State;

8. Palliatives should be generous and general. The virus does not belong to any political party just as hunger and poverty are not partisan.

Your Excellency, while commending Nigerians for their support to, and cooperation with the fight against the pandemic; we appreciate the sacrifices of our health workers and other frontline personnel providing other essential services. Let me also express my gratitude to numerous well-meaning Nigerians who are making enormous sacrifices with their wealth, skills and know how. Mr. President these concerns boarder on matters of life and death.

The time to act on the Kano situation is now.

Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria
Long Live Kano State

Sincerely,

Signed
Sen. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso

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My relationship with President Muhammadu Buhari – Salihu Tanko Yakasai

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Yakasai and Buhari

In light of recent events that transpired over my recent comments about the government of President Buhari, I think it is absolutely necessary to shed more light on my decades of relationship with the President, and how I am not doing anybody’s bidding with my remarks but simply reacting to issues that are happening in my country.

What is more, my comments were not aimed at casting aspersion against the person or government of Mr. President.

Far from that!

I joined partisan politics in December 2000 at the age of 24, when I officially became a member of the defunct APP at my ward, Kawaji in Nasarawa Local Government Area of Kano State.

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At that time, Kano State was PDP-controlled under the then governor, Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso.

So, I entered politics as an opposition member in my state. As at that time, I was contesting for the position of a councilor at my ward, which ended with my losing the primary election in 2004.

Pioneer Buharist

In 2002, I was in All Progressives Party (APP) when President Buhari picked the membership card of the party and officially joined politics to run for the presidency in the 2003 elections. At that time, I and millions of people particularly from the north welcomed this decision by the President with enthusiasm and zeal and we supported him 100%.

We were basically the 1st set of the so-called ‘cult-like followership ‘ of the President, simply because we believed in him to deliver and lead this country to prosperity.

He came into politics as someone people trusted and whom they see as an upright person that they can vouch for, earning him the nickname ‘Mai Gaskiya’.

We campaigned for him through thick and thin, street to street, the young and the old, and when it was election time, I was assigned by my party leaders at my ward to be the returning officer of our party, APP, for the presidential election which Buhari was contesting for.

We fought PDP hard at my ward to ensure that we delivered the ward to him in the election.

I did not sleep for almost 48 hours then, because I had to accompany the results to the local government collation centre to ensure that the results were not altered.

President Buhari did not win the 2003 general elections, but our party, the defunct APP won the governorship election in Kano State, which ushered in Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau as the new governor of the state.

But soon after that, there was friction between his camp and that of President Buhari, which later on after the 2007 elections led to the creation of a new political party formed by Buhari, that is Congress for Progressive Change, (CPC).

First meeting with Buhari

I, and my political leader at that time, Hon. Balarabe Wakili, a former member representing Nasarawa Local Government in the House of Reps (2003 to 2007) decided to pitch our camp with the President and not with Mallam Shekarau, and it was through Hon. Wakili that I first visited the President on a solidarity visit back in the early stages.

It is still in CPC that I contested for the State Assembly, which we suffered a lot because of the factionalization of the party that led to a lot of bickerings.

Ultimately, I neither got the ticket nor did our party win the election.

May I use this medium to thank the current Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Hajia Sadiya for the role she played in my election back then when she was the National Treasurer of CPC.

My surrogate father-in-law

The President, also served as my wife’s guardian during our wedding in 2006 on behalf of her late uncle, AVM Mukhtar Mohammed who was a very close associate of the President.

May I use this opportunity to tell my wife’s guardian that 14 years after he gave her hand in marriage to me, we are still living peacefully and blessed with 3 children.

We thank him for his fatherly role during the nuptial rites.

Back to politics, at the presidential level, I served as a member of the Welfare Committee of the Presidential Election of Muhammadu Buhari, with the current Minister of Water Resources, Hon. Sulaiman Adamu Kazaure as the chairman of the committee, during the 2011 presidential election.

After the formation of APC, I also served as a member of the Youth Committee during the 2015 elections, crisscrossing this country to campaign for the President which we eventually won and Buhari was ushered into government with popular national support.

Now having given the background of the long-term relationship between me and the President spanning 18 years to be precise, I have never known a political leader throughout my political career other than Buhari, even though I can count the number of times I’ve met him.

NEPU blood

I did not only wish for his success but I equally worked hard with everything that I’ve got for almost two decades to see his dream become a reality, and I will continue to stand by him.

When I see things that are going not the way they are supposed to, I naturally have that urge to try and express my concern about them, because I want things to work right.

I can understand, if by virtue of my position as an aide to a governor in the same party as the President’s that I have limitations and somehow the spotlight is always on me.

But occasionally, despite suppressing my opinions,

I find the NEPU blood in me triggering me to react.

This is in no way, meant to undermine the President or my dear party, APC.

Apologies to Ganduje

To my boss, His Excellency, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, OFR, I want to use this opportunity to apologise for putting Your Excellency in an uncomfortable position due to my personal opinions.

It is indeed something that I never intended to happen, and I am not happy about it a bit. I do not have a boss-and-aide relationship with Your Excellency; I rather have a father-and-son relationship with Your Excellency.

Indeed, I appreciate the support Your Excellency has been according me in the last five years, and I will continue to remain loyal to you and serve my state and my country through your government and in whatever other capacity.

At the end of the day, our prayer is for Nigeria to be great.

In the words of Barack Obama “Do we participate  in a politics of cynicism, or in a politics of hope?”

I am an optimist, and it’s our ardent HOPE that we will have the Nigeria of our dreams in which development and prosperity will be the norm rather than the exception; a country we can build a secured future for our children and generations yet unborn.

May we continue to do our best in ensuring this is the Nigeria that our forefathers sacrificed their lives for to lay a solid foundation.

Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Salihu Tanko Yakasai, Governor Ganduje’s suspended media aide writes from Kano.

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Ganduje reopens Kano higher institutions October 26

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Ganduje

Mukhtar Yahya Usman

Kano state governor Abdullahi Ganduje has approved the reopening of state-owned tertiary institutions on October 26.

Kano Focus reports that the commissioner for higher education, Mariya Mahmoud Bunkure announced the decision on Monday.

The announcement follows the resumption of secondary and primary schools in Kano state on Monday morning.

Ms Bunkure, a medical doctor, however directed the management, staff, and students of the schools to observe Covid-19 protocols.

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LG election: KANSIEC begins sale of nomination forms October 19

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KANSIEC Chairman

Mukhtar Yahya Usman

The Kano state Independent Electoral Commission (KANSIEC) says it will sell nomination forms for local government election candidates from October 19 to December 03, 2020.

Kano Focus reports that the KANSIEC chairman Garba Ibrahim Sheka announced that the election will hold on January 16, 2021.

Mr Sheka, a professor of Economics, said political parties are to conduct their campaigns between October 12, 2020 and January 12, 2021.

He said parties should submit completed forms for the positions of chairman and vice chairman of the 44 local government councils at the state headquarters between September O7 and 13.

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He added that completed forms for the 484 councillorship slots should be submitted at the KANSIEC local government offices.

Mr Sheka said the election will take place before the completion of the tenures of the incumbent local government council officers.

“We will hold the local government election on 16th January, 2021 as the serving chairmen completes their tenure on 11 February.” He said

Mr Sheka added that the 2002 Act that established the commission requires it to announce the election date 21 days before it holds.

He however said that due to the huge number of political parties in Kano state, KANSIEC has announced the date 90 days before the election.

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