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Governor Ganduje, ‘Yan Awaki community needs your urgent intervention

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Erosion at 'Yan Awaki

Muhammad Yakubu

Let me start by congratulating you, Your Excellency the Executive Governor of Kano State, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, on the successful completion of Dangi underpass/roundabout and flyover among other completed projects under your watch.

I would like to, however, bring to your attention the serious gully erosion disturbing the people of ‘Yan ‘awaki Quarters of Kano Municipal Local Government Area.

‘Yan ‘awaki is a densely populated part of votes-churning Zaitawa Ward of the local government, in the heart of the ancient city.

Over the years, the continuous widening of the erosion has generated a lot of concerns among the people.

The erosion is caused by the dilapidated sides of Jakara River, a massive drainage passing through the community.

Your Excellency, as you are aware, the drainage is one of the largest in the country and it starts from Aisami Quarters and passes through Jakara, Kurmi Market and terminates at Minjibir town.

Yet, the unaddressed issue is in the verge of causing great havoc, as lives and property of the people within the community are under alarming threat.

Indeed, this erosion has significantly eaten up the majority parts of the untarred road serving the people, leaving them vulnerable to risks of serious flooding that can destroy their abodes.

Your Excellency, the people of ‘Yan Awaki and environs hardly sleep with two eyes closed during rainy seasons as they are living in perpetual fear of imminent disaster.

To put differently, if the issue is not addressed immediately, the aforementioned threats will surely unfold and cause an avoidable damage.

Consequently, Your Excellency, I have no option than to use this platform to call for urgent actions.

The people are facing a grave danger and your swift intervention can help to avert it.

While I wish Your Excellency the best for the remaining years in office, I also pray for the entire well-being of my beloved state, Kano and Nigeria

Muhammadu Yakubu ( Young son-of-the-soil) writes from Kano City.

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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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OPINION: With due respect Mr. President, Nigerians are suffering

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By Adnan Mukhtar Tudunwada

With the increase in fuel price amid closure of borders due to COVID-19, increase in electricity tariff, insecurity, lack of access to good roads, hospitals and other basic amenities; it’s an understatement to say that Nigerians are suffering.

President Muhammadu Buhari was the last hope of the common man in recent years.

But many now doubt whether it is the Buhari of yesterday that is leading Nigeria today.

If not for the little improvement on the fight against Boko Haram, I can say that the Jonathan administration performed better than that of Buhari.

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I don’t have to go into any comparison with previous governments, but it is a duty for government to account for what it is doing.

It is a duty for active citizens to ask questions like where we are and where we are heading to.

Since the coming of Buhari to power, the electricity tariff has never gone down.

The petrol price will plummet for just few days or weeks and astronomically skyrockets again.

Unfilfilled promises

Mr. President made so many promises that are yet to be fulfilled. On the economy, the government has done a wonderful job in the area of farming.

But farmers’ access to fertilizer is still not impressive as expected.

There is rapid development in rice farming.

Nigeria is doing well on this sector, but we still have a long way in making the agricultural economy of this country money-spinning, like in other countries.

Where are we in making the refineries active?

What about the Kaduna refinery that we were told is going to start working before the end of Buhari’s first term?

Mr. President, where are we in reducing the cost of governance for political appointees and more especially the running cost of your government?

I am sure so many Nigerians will not forgive him for making them to believe that he was the only messiah, who can rescue the nation’s ship.

Failed government

The gruesome killings in Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto, Benue and Plateau States because of bandits and farmers-herders clash, together with the kidnapping of innocent citizens by gunmen on our highways is enough testimony of the failure of Buhari government.

One thing that makes life pleasurable for citizens is access to constant electricity and water supply, good roads, health care services and job security.

But of none aforementioned has improved under Mr. President.

The worst is the failure of the President to unite his appointees. There is inter-agency rivalry.

It was Magu and Malami, Abike Irewa and Pantami, Ngige and NSITF, Keyamo and NDE, NSA Babagana Monguno and Late Abba Kyari, all under the watch of PMB.

Nothing in this country is making the common man excited as was envisioned before President Buhari assumed office.

Care-free attitude

There is increase in the price of food stuffs.

The local rice is today being sold at either N23K or N24K, while the foreign rice is close to N30K.

Where will the meager salary of N30K as minimum wage take workers to?

How will a worker pay for his rent, pays school fees for his children, among others?

It is apparent Mr. President seems less bothered about the state of the nation.

He does not even care to address Nigerians in their hardship.

This is totally unacceptable, and reprehensible.

It is time for the President to address the deplorable condition of diverse sectors of the country’s economy.

He still has three more years to bequeath a lasting legacy.

But before that time, I say, and with due respect Mr. President, Nigerians are suffering.

Adnan, a Kano-based  journalist can be reached via: Adnanmukhtaradam@gmail.com, or Twitter: @adnanmouckhtar

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Ganduje’s Covid-19 response strategy and the challenges By Muhammad Garba

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Ganduje washing hands

While one is filled with hope that it is relatively safe now to say that the administration of Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje is tenaciously fighting the war against the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, given the numerous measures adopted to cushion the impact of the ravaging disease, the response strategy, right from the beginning, is faced with many unnerving challenges.

This is in view of the fact that the virus is a new challenge to the global health and particularly to developing nations like ours.

Some have even predicted that Kano, given its population and cosmopolitan nature will become Nigeria’s epicenter of the novel coronavirus pandemic considering the rising number of cases then which were attributed to the influx of people from states with confirmed cases of the virus into Kano.

This has created community transmission with asymptomatic carriers.

With no personal protective equipment then except surgical masks and lack of knowledge of the proper protocols on the preventive measures, 50 health workers in the frontline were infected with the virus.

Even the co-chair of the state Task Force on COVID-19, Prof. Abdulrazak Garba Habib and some other members were infected and have to be admitted to the isolation centre for treatment protocols.

This is in addition to the fact that from the onset many still think the coronavirus is a hoax, while others believe that a COVID-19 diagnosis is a death sentence, and do not want their neighbours to think they are infected.

So they avoid being tested, and try to behave as if all is normal.

They go to burials, and shake fellow mourners’ hands because it would be socially unacceptable not to.

They shop, barefaced, in crowded markets and even hold soccer tournaments in the city.

First to accept threat

It is also on record that Kano was one of the first states to decipher the threat even before it occurs and start planning ahead of the epidemic.

It was followed by momentous pecuniary investments into preparedness and surveillance in collaboration with the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), state Ministry of Health and the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC), which have been working closely with partners and other stakeholders to coordinate and review the response strategies and implementation activities on a daily basis in order to effectually contain the spread of COVID-19.

Testing for COVID-19 was started in Kano on April 21 with only one testing lab which had to close due to contamination.

At that time, samples have to be sent to Abuja for analysis where in the process, sometimes, the sample got contaminated.

That itself caused delay in announcing how many positive cases have been detected in the state.

A team of medical experts had to be deployed to Kano to facilitate in reopening the testing centre after it was fumigated.

In appreciation of the response strategy by the Ganduje administration, when he visited Kano as part of his assessment tour to the state to assess the state response to the pandemic, Director General of the NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, commended the state government’s response to the fight against the deadly COVID-19 pandemic in the state.

The DG was also quoted to have said recently in an NTA’s Good Morning Nigeria, that Kano is testing more than any state in the country.

While the NCDC sets 100 benchmark of sample collection per state and with five molecular testing centres to enhance detection and effective response to the pandemic,  Kano state’s sample collection goes up to hundreds and strengthening and stabilizing the position also led to drastic drop of the pandemic in the state. Even with the five testing centres Kano still take some of its samples to Abuja for testing.

Mysterious deaths

However, when I watched one of the televised daily Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 briefing by the Hon. Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, announcing that 60% of the “mysterious” deaths recorded at the peak period of the COVID-19 pandemic in Kano may have been triggered by or due to the virus, I find it difficult to fathom the report.

One is not surprised at this because, even while the investigation then had yet to commence, coordinator of the Ministerial Team on COVID-19 and Permanent Secretary, FMOH sent to Kano, Dr. Nasir Sani Gwarzo, an indigene of Kano state and medical epidemiologist, jumped to the conclusion that suggested that COVID-19 was the cause of the deaths.

His claim was however, brushed by the minister of health when appeared before members of the House of Representatives during plenary.

He told members of the Green Chamber that investigations into the deaths are of three streams and there is no result yet linking them to COVID-19.

Ehanire even denied Gwarzo making that statement.

Said he: “There was never a case of him (the task force coordinator) saying 80 per cent of people died from that or any other disease at all….The person did not ever say that the people died from coronavirus.”

Based on my understanding of how this collaborative efforts aimed at battling the deadly pandemic works, the FMOH ought to have share its final report with the government of Kano state before sharing it with the media.

Verbal autopsies

That was what informed the decision by the government of Kano state to institute its combined team of experts from the state Ministry of Health and development partners, including the World Health Organization (WHO), National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), AFENET and Lafiya Projects all under the under the leadership of Dr. Muktar A. Gadanya to undertake a study of the situation.

The report by the PTF team believed its “verbal autopsies” found that a total of 979 deaths were recorded in eight metropolitan local government areas in the state at a rate of 43 deaths per day, compared with the typical death rate of roughly 11 deaths per day, while the peak in deaths occurred in the second week of April, and that by the beginning of May, the death rate had gone back down to the normal rate.

However, the report of the team of experts by the Kano state government, which was presented to Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, indicates that only 15.9 per cent of deaths recorded during the ugly incident between March and April has countered the comments made by the Minister of Health.

While presenting the Mortality Review (Verbal Autopsy) findings by the Team, the Lead Consultant, Muktar Gadanya, a Professor of infectious diseases from Bayero University Kano (BUK), disputed the minister’s comments which was based on findings by the Ministerial Taskforce Team on COVID-19, led by Dr. Gwarzo, which earlier stated the large number of the mysterious deaths were caused by COVID-19.

The team of researchers discovered that about 1,774 deaths were recorded, but were able to trace the relatives of about 1604 of the deceased, which represented over 90 per cent of the total figure.

He maintained that out of 1,604 cases traced, only 255 victims, representing 15.9 percent cases of deaths were linked to COVID-19 pandemic.

The team, however, alluded the remaining deaths to diseases related to hypertension, diabetes, malaria and other commonly identified ailments, including self-medication by victims.

As at July 24, 2020, 37, 512 samples were collected in the various testing centres, while 27, 219 of the samples were tested out of which 1, 452 have been confirmed representing 5.33 per cent.

Also, 1, 190 cases were discharged with 209 confirmed cases on treatment and 53 death which represents 3.65 per cent mortality rate. 3, 131 contact tracing were initiated and carried out.

Available data on date of releasing the result of cases under review indicate that the highest case of 80 was recorded in the state on May 5, 2020, while there was zero case on July 4, 2020.

Of the total 53 mortality rate recorded during the period under focus, nine patients died from the disease on the April 25.

As at July 24, 2020, 37, 512 samples were collected in the various centres, while 27, 219 of the samples were tested out of which 1, 452 have been confirmed representing 5.33 per cent. Also, 1, 190 cases were discharged with 209 confirmed cases on treatment and 53 death which represents 3.65 per cent mortality rate. 3, 131 contact tracing were initiated and carried out.

Also, available data on date of releasing the result of cases under review indicate that the highest case of 80 was recorded in the state on the May 5, 2020, while there was zero case on July 4, 2020.

Of the total 53 mortality rate recorded during the period under focus, nine patients died from the disease on the April 25.

Community sample collection

The state government also piloted community sample collection in 10 high risk settlements across two local governments of Gwale and Kano Municipal Council.

The sample collection was implemented across 62 wards of six local governments which resulted in the collection of over 24,000 samples.

This include Nassarawa with 11 wards and 3, 659samples collected from which 45 were confirmed positive; Gwarzo 11 wards, 4, 030 samples and 45 confirmed cases; Kumbotso 11 wards, 4, 165 samples and 51 confirmed cases. The rest are Wudil which has 11 wards, 5, 175 samples collected and 3 confirmed cases; Dambatta has 10 wards and 4,096 samples were collected with 10 cases confirmed; Tarauni with 10 wards where 3, 735 samples collected and 8 cases conformed.

There are also plans to scale up the collection to other local government in both rural and urban areas.

At the sample collection sites, measures adopted in the operation include identified and activated 16 sample collection sites within the metropolis, engaged public and private clinicians on referrals, linked Acute Coronary Syndromes (ACS) and contact tracing to sample collection sites, awareness through community and religious leaders, improved data management, decentralization of data collection to field teams, daily review of HF and Community (ACS) tracking, identification of hotspot through GIS, Home Base Care Management,  Adopted and developed Home base care Standard Operating Protocols (SOP) for Kano State,  rolled out Home Base care across the State, Sixty Two (62) patients on Home Base Care.

Capacity development

The COVID-19 response strategy involves aggressively improved staff capacity in disease surveillance and response, infection prevention and control, laboratory, risk communication and community engagement, case management and POE.

Since the beginning of the outbreak, 842 clinicians and response team were trained thrice on contact tracing and active case to improve number of persons reached, while 11 training sessions were organized for 9,036 health workers on case detection, triaging and management of health care waste.

To ensure effective focus on all sample collection, biosafety and sample transportation, lab personnel, 110 medical records officers were drilled, 9, 252 media personnel, religious leaders, traditional leaders on community sensitization and safe behavior practice, community referral and identification of suspected cases, 264 clinicians, local government Primary Health Care Team on Patient management and home base care, while 252 road transport workers were trained on Point of Entry (POE).

These training helped increase the capacity of health professionals to detect COVID019, as well as increased awareness and compliance with the NCDC’s take responsibility campaign amongst various groups.

Governor Ganduje engages media agencies during the fortnightly press briefing on COVID-19 at the state Government House.

Also as part of its risk communications activities, the Task Force in collaboration with other organisations has produced and shared multimedia content, including videos, infographics and audio jingles targeting different demographics. T

his has helped increase awareness about COVID-19 and enlightened many on how to protect themselves and stay safe.

Despite the daunting challenges and the successes being recorded in the COVID-19 response aimed at stemming further spread of the pandemic and the unrelenting commitment and political will in leading the response strategy, Kano is winning the war against COVID-19.

As evidenced by the above statistics which indicate a downward movement in the spread of the disease, the state is recording a major breakthrough in the curtailment of the pandemic.

Muhammad Garba is the commissioner, Information, Kano state.

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