Text of a broadcast by Dr. Hadiza Sabuwa Balarabe, Deputy Governor of Kaduna State, on the update of the activities of the State Task Force on COVID-19, on Saturday 18th April 2020.
Good day dear people of Kaduna State.
Since Coronavirus was first reported late last year, the disease has impacted on almost everything in the world; from healthcare systems, the economy, international trade and commerce while hugely also affecting governance. From China, it has spread to about 210 countries, with 1,529,066 people currently infected, of these cases, 1,472,083 are Mild/Moderate cases and 56,983 being serious or critical cases. Globally 154,900 deaths have been recorded.
In Nigeria, 493 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed, 159 recovered and 17 deaths. For these frightening statistics and many more reasons, the world has been in morbid mode, with gloomy but true images of this disease. Presently both the print and electronic media are replete with stories of the devastating effect of COVID-19.
Messages for preventive measures like regular hand washing with soap and running water, social distancing and observance of respiratory hygiene have become recurrent themes also.
As is the tradition of the State Standing Committee on Covid 19, today i provide you, dear people of kaduna State, with an update of the activities of this important Committee.
On Wednesday, a silver lining started appearing in the dark cloud that enveloped the State since March 28, when we recorded the index case. Specifically, the Commissioner for Health reported that one out of the six COVID-19 patients had been discharged from the Infectious Disease Control Centre. Naturally, people of goodwill within and outside Kaduna State were elated and they expressed their joy in both mainstream and social media.
However, some people’s imagination got the better part of them as they jumped to conclusion, assuming falsely that our amiable Governor, His Excellency Malam Nasir El Rufai, was the case in question. and eventhough we appreciate the outpouring of love, care and concern for the wellbeing of HE, Mal Nasir Elrufai, it was observed that some were just mischief makers who were trying to add confusion to the situation. Indeed, our dear Governor categorically denounced the fake news last Thursday and has made it clear that he will address the State on his status when the time is right.
Dear people of Kaduna State, yesterday the Commissioner of Health again brought glad tidings to the people of Kaduna State. According to her, three more cases have tested negative to COVID-19 for the second time. In other words, they have been cured and were being discharged to join their families after weeks of separation. However, i want to sound a strong word of caution to all, that it is not yet time to celebrate. Let us continue to abide by the Quarantine order until we are advised otherwise.
At this juncture, I must commend especially, the dedication and commitment of our Health personnel for this feat and their perseverance at this time of uncertainty. I salute your doggedness in this fight. I also commend all members of the State Standing on Covid 19 aka State Task Force, for their efforts and support towards achieving this milestone in the fight against Covid-19. We will continue to do our best to ensure the other two patients maintain and surpass their present state, and by Allahs grace we hope they will be discharged soon.
However, i make a passionate plea to all citizens to also step up respect for the Quarantine Order, and make sure they intensify observance of the laid down preventive measures so that we can contain the spread of the disease, protect ourselves, our families and communities while also putting forth ingenious ways to mitigate the effects of the present lockdown.
In fact, finding a cure for the disease and a vaccine to prevent it, are likely to take some time. However, people have to continue living their lives in anticipation of the way out and quickly too.
I want to assure you that Governance will still continue but in a different manner in line with current realities. In this vein, we are devising creative ways of running the bureaucracy of government, providing security and social services. We will not rest on our oars in our quest to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease therefore we will not compromise on observance of the COVID-19 Protocols. Indeed, we tried to ensure just that in the last four weeks of the lockdown.
The Task Force on COVID-19 which I chair and the Emergency Operations Center chaired by the Commissioner of Health meet daily. While the task force coordinates and leads the state multisectoral efforts for Covid 19, the Emergency Operation Centre(EOC), with membership drawn from technical experts, development partners and representatives of health workers, including line agencies, lead health efforts for the containment of the Coronavirus disease. I also attend the EOC meetings. These meetings are held virtually (via teleconferencing).
In the same manner, the State Executive Council met and also approved a Governance Continuation Plan. Under the plan, all the five Policy Councils will resume their weekly meetings, while the State Exco will continue to meet monthly, all meetings will be held virtually. Similarly, all Ministries, Departments and Agencies have been mandated to also develop their governance continuation plans, enabling their activities to continue remotely.
All memoranda for consideration would be submitted electronically and approvals will be given in like manner. Although these initiatives have become the new normal which coronavirus has brought upon us, they are nonetheless in line with our administration’s policy of e-governance, which emphasizes the digitalization of Government processes.
In responding to peoples concerns and in keeping with our people first mantra, a review of the Lockdown Order is being done regularly this led to the adjustments that have been made for instance opening of the two-day window in order to allow citizens to restock food items, exempting trucks conveying food stuffs from the restriction of movement and the distribution of palliatives to households. In all circumstances, we have acted with the best of intentions and for the overall interest and common good of the people of the state. We will continue to explore ways and means to further assuage genuine complaints.
In furtherance of this, Government is fashioning out a framework to allow businesses that offer essential services to operate within this stay-at-home period. Basically, the framework will enforce a structure that allows such businesses to operate within reasonable limits, so as to avoid shortages in food supply, beverages, and pharmaceuticals to residents.
Eventhough these are businesses that are central to the lives, health, well-being and survival of our people they will still require special permits to operate. Therefore businesses that fall within this category are expected to apply to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Technology which will grant such permits after due dilligence.
However, let me reiterate here that Government will not compromise Covid -19 Protocols with regards to mass gathering and social distancing even when such permits are granted and in the event of default, a business can loose such privilege.
With the advent of the raining season, our farmers are eager to start clearing fields in readiness for cultivation. No doubt, food sustains life but we must realise that Covid-19 is also threatening lives more than any disease at the moment. So, the Ministry of Agriculture is also putting out a framework and engaging with relevant stakeholders in the agricultural sector, to ensure that farmers have unhindered access to their farms and get enough inputs that will make for good yields. We are also working with the LGAs to explore the possibility of reorganising village markets that sell agricultural produce, to specifically target days when the lockdown is relaxed, we believe this will also help check price hikes.
Yesterday, the Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs met with the newly posted General Officer of One Mechanised Division, who promised to tighten security around some hotspots of kidnapping and banditry especially in Giwa, Igabi, Chikun and Birnin Gwari local government areas. Incidentally, a lot of farming also take place in these Local Governments.
We are putting all necessary plans in place to ensure food security both during and after the lockdown. Like I said in an earlier address, a combination of COVID-19 and food shortage can accelerate the spread of the disease and thwart efforts in fighting the disease.
Dear people of Kaduna State, i want to again reiterate the fact that coronavirus has claimed lives: it does not respect social class/status, gender, race or ethnicity or religion.
I implore people to be watchful, disregard unscientific claims that it doesn’t infect Africans because of our genes or climate. COVID-19 is real. Yesterday, Nigeria lost an illustrious son in the person of Malam Abba Kyari, President Muhammadu Buhari’s Chief of Staff, to Covid 19. On behalf of the Government and good people of Kaduna State, I wish to convey our sincere and heartfelt condolences to the family of the deceased, President Muhammadu Buhari and Nigerians for this sad loss.
May Allah forgive his short comings and grant him eternal rest. Ameen ya Rabbi.
At this juncture, and as always, i call on residents of the state to strengthen their resolve in respecting simple but life benefiting rules as have been laid down. The order is out of necessity and to ensure preservation of life.
Again I extent our warm gratitude to all those individuals and Organizations that have donated to the “Covid 19 Fund”.
I pray for Allahs abundant blessings upon everyone
Stay safe and stay home, that we may all be alive.
Together, we will overcome this.
Thank you for listening and may God bless And keep our State safe.
Image: Hadiza Sabuwa