By Maduka Nweke writes from Igbakwu, Anambra State
The world has never witnessed a tormenting scourge likened to this Coronavirus explosion that spread to every country simultaneously. The saying that when the going is tough, the tough goes is true when you analyses the expertise with which the Obiano administration has handled the pandemic in Anambra State. You check professionalism through the expert’s proactivity when urgency is the issue. Anambra State under Obiano has continued to trail the blaze being among the first two states in the country to set all platforms for handling the scourge of the pandemic in place.
Ndi Anambra are known for their business enterprise. They travel through the length and breadth of the world in search of locations for their business. Despite that they have great clients and business partners from China, the epicenter of the COVID-19, the Anambra State government mindful of contacts due to business transactions really mapped out strategies that made the spread drastically curtailed. This is possible because of the proactivity of the Obiano Administration who is aware that the citizens must be traveling and in the event of contacting the virus, they should not be despised in their home state. The manner with which the spread is controlled in the state despite that the indigenes must continue to do their business even abroad is an indication that the state is in safe hands.
According to the head of the Nigeria Center for Disease Control, NCDC, Chikwe Ihekweazu, as at June 6, the country has 12,233 cases, death toll at 342, recovery toll 3,826, while active cases total 8,065. But out of this figure, Anambra despite being within the third largest economies in Nigeria per states’ computation has recorded only two deaths with minimal contacts. Nigeria, therefore, continues to strengthen for capacity in response to COVID-19, 100 days since the index case was recorded in the country. He said, “In the last 100 days, our resilience has helped us pull through. I am especially grateful to members of the NCDC Team, health workers, drivers, cleaners, our partners and every person involved in the #COVID19Nigeria response. When you talk of facilities, Anambra ranks first among states that equipped themselves without federal support, making six hospitals reach the global standards for handling the pandemic. Of course Anambra Government under Obiano is not leaving anything for chance in the battle to protect the indigenes and all residents in the state from the scourge.
Anambra has been building on the lessons from other developed economies in the world for improved response. The country’s case load continues to rise within the average 300 new cases per day range while Anambra continues to use strategies to minimize the spread in the state. Gov. Willie Obiano of Anambra says there are currently about eight active COVID-19 cases being treated at Protective Care Centres in the state. The governor also said 69 persons were on home isolation while two others were at the state’s quarantine facility. Obiano who disclosed this in a special broadcast to the state on Tuesday in Awka, said his administration was making efforts to enhance the testing capacity of the state for coronavirus. He said he had signed the COVID-19 Bill, which made not wearing a face mask a punishable offence with fine and community service. If we recall some of the incidences that happened in the recent past and how the Obiano administration handled it, then you will bear with me that we don’t need a soothsayer to tell you that Anambra State is really in safe hands. As the scourge of the pandemic continues to ravage states in Nigeria, a lot of states in the same ratings with Anambra State have been recording casualties but Anambra State recorded its first death from COVID-19 just as three patients have been discharged from the state’s isolation center. Anambra, without federal aid equipped all its major hospitals in readiness for the pandemic scourge.
When other states started the common ways of treating the COVID-19, Anambra under Obiano left the level and entered the phase of community searching. The state government has also established a COVID-19 Task Force in each of the 21 local government areas (LGAs) in the state. Each Task Force will be headed by the Chairman of the Transition Committee, and members will comprise the Health Officer, the Information Officer, the Disease & Surveillance Officer and the Ministry of Health Covid-19 Laision Officer in the LGA. Taking the battle further, the State also set up a COVID-19 Task Force in each of the 326 wards in the state. Members will be the Ministry of Health Liaison Officer, the Officer in charge of the main Primary Healthcare in the ward, the Youth Leader in the Ward, the Woman Leader in the ward, the Development Ward Chairman and the Councillor of the ward who will head it. Both Task Forces are to take to the grassroots the message of the dangers of COVID-19 and how to prevent the spread of the contagion. With this, Anambra State takes another lead as the first state to replicate the Task Forces in all the wards, made necessary by the need to check the spread of the contagion at the grassroots. Anambra and Lagos are among the states which have swung into the community search phase of the campaign against COVID-19. This is largely due to the foresightedness of the Obiano Administration.
This is why spirited individuals in the state and other climes rose against those politicians who in attempt to diminish the effort of the Obiano Administration started gimmicks to politicize the success. Instead of joining hands with Obiano to stamp out the pandemic, some people who feel the glory will go to Obiano decided to toe the line of politics to undermine the successes already recorded. They failed to realize that in civilized societies, citizens eschew politics in times of crisis and join hands with the government of the day to fight to resolve the crisis.
As Anambra becomes the first state in Nigeria to incorporate Primary Healthcare Centres in the strategy to combat COVID-19 by training PHC workers on the World Health Organization and Nigeria Centre for Disease Control protocols in dealing with the contagion, it richly deserves all the accolades it has been receiving for taking the campaign against COVID-19 to the grassroots. So, this attempt by some politically exposed persons to put the lives of millions of our people in the harm’s way by politicizing the community search phase of the fight is unconscionable. Neither the Anambra people nor even God will ever forgive such recklessness.
It is noteworthy that the so-called professional politicians in the state be reminded, once again, that it is absolutely immoral to work with so much determination to derail the ongoing battle against COVID-19 in the name of campaigning for an election which is one and a half years away. Anambra State is the Light of the nation and must remain so despite the efforts of detractors who claim they are fighting for the people.
While Anambra State is making efforts to stop the spread of this virus, any group of politicians that ties the operation of the COVID-19 Task Forces in both the 21 LGAs and 326 wards to a drive by the desire to win the 2021 governorship vote is only enemy of the people. In fact, while affluent citizens of other states are donating to the purse of the state to enable the home government fight the scourge, they chose to identify with the federal government with no inclination about what happens in his home state. In fact, the establishment of the COVID-19 Task Forces in the wards represents the full operationalization of the Primary Healthcare Centres since they were created in 1988 when Professor Olukoye Ransome-Kuti was the Minister of Health under the General Ibrahim Babangida military regime.
Of course, the misinterpretation of the genuine attempt by the Obiano Administration is mischievous bearing in mind that the Ward Health Development Chairman, who will play a major role in the Task Force in each ward, is a creation of Nigeria’s Primary Healthcare Development Agency Act. The person must be an indigene of the community which nominates him or her and must be resident there. He or she liaises with community leaders like village heads on health issues on behalf of the community. As a member of the COVID-19 Task Force, the person is required to play a major role in reporting any stranger in the community or any member of the community who has been outside the state in the last 14 days or any community member who displays such symptoms as shortness of breath, high fever and constant sneezing.
Those politicians detest the fact that Anambra has become the first state in Nigeria to incorporate Primary Healthcare Centres in the strategy to combat COVID-19 by training PHC workers on the World Health Organization and Nigeria Centre for Disease Control protocols in dealing with the contagion. It is a feat only states with foresight governors like Obiano can achieve, so it richly deserves all the accolades it has been receiving for taking the campaign against COVID-19 to the grassroots. The attempt by some politically exposed persons to put the lives of millions of our people in the harm’s way by politicizing the community search phase of the fight is unconscionable. Neither the Anambra people nor even God will ever forgive such recklessness. Ndi Anambra should be able to distinguish between politics and patriotism because the two are worlds apart. It is a sacrilege for one to deny his people what is due to the on the ground of partisan politics. Anybody that does that yet claims he is a leader trying to represent his people in any representative level is not only a devil in human cloak he is a fraudster trying to obtain his people by trick. That is why it is absolutely immoral to work with so much determination to derail the ongoing battle against COVID-19 in the name of campaigning for an election which is one and a half years away.
Anambra State must remain the Light of the nation. Some of our people are already cooperating very well with the authorities in this respect. For example, the travel history of the second COVID-19 case was provided by vigilant and patriotic members of his community who knew he travelled to Kano towards the end of April and returned secretly to his base in the Awka Capital Territory on May 6, 2020. When he was tested for COVID-19, the result was positive, and he is now receiving good medical attention in one of our protective care centres. His wife has joined him in the centre. His friend was traced and tested for the contagion, and the result turned out positive. He also is receiving treatment in a protective care unit.
The friend of the second case is one of the three persons who tested positive last weekend when samples from 19 persons were tested at a private molecular laboratory in Nnewi, Anambra State. It has to be pointed out that one of the three confirmed cases is not from Anambra State, nor is he resident in our state, nor does he do business here. He was accompanying human remains in a vehicle from Lagos to Imo State. When he was given a form to fill on entering Anambra State from Delta State while his sample was being taken, he falsely wrote Anambra as his destination. When he was contacted after the result of his test came out, he confessed he lied in the form. He mischievously switched off his phone and travelled back to Lagos. With the benefit of our sophisticated communication equipment, however, the Anambra State government traced him to Amuwo Odofin, Lagos, and the necessary information has been passed on to the authorities in Lagos State.
It is necessary to stress that the tests carried out recently are the first set of samples from Anambra State to be tested for COVID-19 in the state; hitherto, such tests were done only at the Virology Centre, Irrua, Edo State. The privately owned diagnostic centre in Nnewi, where the tests were done, is one of the three laboratories in Anambra State which Governor Willie Obiano has been advising the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to certify as testing centres for COVID-19. The others are the state government-owned Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu Teaching Hospital Mega Laboratory in Awka, the only mega lab in the Southeast which can test up to 500 samples simultaneously; and the Federal Government-owned Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital laboratory in Nnewi. At the invitation of the Anambra State government, top officials of the NCDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) visited the state on Saturday, April 28, 2020, and inspected the three laboratories and other relevant key facilities; they expressed delight at what they saw. In other words, both the public private partnership (PPP) and cooperative federalism (as opposed to adversarial federalism) are operational in Anambra State for the benefit of the people. As a result, Anambra State will begin to assist other states with COVID-19 testing sooner than many people would seem to appreciate.
The state government would like to, once again, thank numerous individuals and organizations that have been contributing almost daily to the COVID-19 appeal fund. They have been contributing money, medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, medical consumables and food items. Just yesterday, Mr Goddy Ike from Nnewi donated a house with six flats, complete with a 60 KVA electric power generating set, to the state government to use a protective care unit, in appreciation of the impressive work which the government has done to shield the people from the ravages of the pandemic. We are also grateful to the leadership of the Catholic Church in the state which has graciously offered all its hospitals in the state to serve as protective centres if need be. Much as the majority of ndi Anambra have been very cooperative in the fight against COVID-19, it is regrettable that there are individuals who, by failing to comply with the guidelines, directives and the relevant order on the prevention of the spread of this highly infectious disease, are putting the lives of millions of our people in the harm’s way. They include those who refuse to abide by the national curfew from 8pm to 6am, those who refuse to wear face masks and those who deliberately wear face coverings on their jaws, thereby are unable to cover their noses and mouths. To protect ndi Anambra from the untoward behavior of these people which has colossal consequences, the state government has decided to set up mobile courts in various parts of the state to try offenders. The details of how the mobile courts will carry out their duties are being worked out by the Ministry of Justice. We will continue to work together to make Anambra State remain the safest place in Nigeria and elsewhere in every sense. God bless Anambra State, the Light of the Nation.