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KANO CITY IS NOW THE KILLING FIELDS OF COVID-19 PANDEMIC IN AFRICA

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KANO CITY IS NOW THE KILLING FIELDS OF COVID-19 PANDEMIC IN AFRICA

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.

Ganduje

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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Aviation

WHY NIGERIA NEEDS THIS NEW KIND OF NATIONAL CARRIER – An introduction

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By Daniel Young

The concept of a flag carrier or national airline, gained currency in 1944 at the Chicago Convention, following an agreement by representatives from 54 countries present at that event.

From the agreements reached at the convention, and by the generally acceptable definition of national carrier as espoused by the house, two key factors stood out in bold relief: “substantially owned and effectively controlled by citizens and nationals of the country.” For many years this definition held sway until new interpretations of “substantially owned and control” began to emerge on the horizon and those phrases have now acquired new meanings and interpretations; countries and various aviation communities of interest have now begun to interpret this rule to match their various economic realities.

I shall attempt as time permits, to clear our doubts on Nigeria Air’ business ownership model and how it is an amalgam of both the Chicago agreement on national airline ownership rule and the new global airline ownership trends across continents. I must reiterate
at once that, the action of the Nigerian government in accepting a paltry 5% ownership, is a very legitimate one and it is in tandem with global best practice which I shall attempt to justify using case studies and parallels. I must emphatically state here that, there is nothing wrong with the choice of an Ethiopian Airline as partners- as there are easily discernible reasons to justify them as worthy partners in this venture. Their record as the most successful Africa national airline is a fact that cannot be challenged.

Friends, I have studied deeply the 14 misconceptions and fallacies about Nigerian Air by AON and others, which I have addressed in this document …but first, I would like to ask for your patience and understanding. Know this: the most powerful forces in the universe they say, are silent forces and becomes beneficent when rightly directed and destructive when wrongly employed. To ignore the silent forces being carefully marshalled by the most rabid critics of the Nigeria Air project is to deny their effectiveness in helping build a strong determination in those tasked with the delivery of the project to do –the right thing.

‘Substantially owned’ in all its varieties means: ownership of more than 50% interest and that means that Nigeria has passed the ownership test by Chicago agreement standard because, Nigeria and Nigerians own 51% of Nigeria Air -citizens and the government of Nigeria.

AIRLINE OWNERSHIP AND CONTROL-.

Europe has been in the forefront of this battle against ownership and control imposed on airlines by the Chicago convention and believes that where nations are able to ensure that all complimentary national safeguards have been be adhered to and, such relationships portend great benefits, the bars should be lowered to accommodate honorable interests.

Significant reduction of government interest in airline ownership as in the case of
Nigeria air is such a good example of where the world is going now because:

The reduction of government interests in the airline would allow for increased access by airline to capital because the airlines would be playing in a highly competitive and expansive market where constant capital injection would be required to gain substantial market shares.

WHY Ethiopian?

1. 70 years of highly successful operation in air transport
2. Instant Connectivity with Africa and the rest of the world: South, East, West, North and Central Africa.
3. Leadership in aviation technology
4. MRO
5. Over 240 flights per day across Africa, Europe, Middle East, Asia and north America
6. Aircrafts of various types in their numbers
7. 10 years and counting, as the most profitable airline in Africa.

This is an impeccable pedigree in Africa where airlines die with the first 5 years. We must learn to also fix attention on peoples strength. The glass that is always half empty to some people, is always half full to others

To be continued…

(This is part of a contribution by Dr Young, an aviation trainer and Public Affairs commentator, to an ongoing discourse on Nigeria’s national carrier)

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Opinion

At the Peter Obi Event in New York

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*By Sonala Olumhense*

As a Nigerian with considerable interest in public affairs, the Grand Ballroom of New York City’s Hilton Midtown Hotel, the venue of “Afro-Economics & Government Policy: A Conversation with Governor Peter Obi,” was my destination last Sunday.

The engagement followed others in the United States, some of which had been mismanaged by local organisers who chose to charge a gate fee. Not New York, which was free to every registered attendee, thanks to the Columbia University’s Africa Business Club and Black Law Students Association.

The Hilton Grand Ballroom is a cavernous facility capable of accommodating 3,000 persons. For a city with nearly 700 hotels pre-COVID, Hilton bills the facility as the city’s largest ballroom. At the height of the event, it was about two-thirds full.

On arrival, I was exactly half an hour ahead of schedule. I was therefore even more impressed to find over 100 other Nigerians ahead of me at the door, some of them from faraway states.

On the evidence of the New York event, I report that Labour Party presidential candidate Obi is not a myth or a hoax, contrary to what some snake-oil merchants suggest.

He is no product merely of social media, or merely an Igbo man seeking an Igbo presidency. The Nigerians I saw, heard, and interacted with were from various parts of Nigeria.

Who is Obi? He may be a Nigerian who wants the leadership of Nigeria to alter her story, history and trajectory, but he is the candidate of time and chance.

That makes him a formidable candidate, and on the evidence of last Sunday, I now fully understand those videos of widespread excitement each time he is identified in public, which offend the Nigeria political establishment (structure, if you like).

I have previously written in this column that Peter Obi, the metaphor, is the rephrasing of the question for the APC and PDP conglomerate.

Most Nigerians admit: Nigeria is a pathetic failure. Obi’s advocacy is a commonsense proposal to re-engineer the country beginning from its leadership recruitment.

The background here is no mystery: Nigeria is at its lowest ebb of morale and coherence since her independence in October 1960. Since then, she has suffered relentlessly at the hands of ruthless politicians and a mostly-rotten military machine which dresses up some of its most brutal, greedy and pretentious in civilian attire and dumps them on the nation.

The danger is that Nigeria is now rotting at a precipitous pace, the nation hurtling towards disintegration with nothing working for most people except those who wield power, their cronies and their families. What this means is what the rest of the world can see: a nation of tremendous potential that is running out of time.

It is the popular outrage against this mess that is fueling Mr Obi and his message: to reset Nigeria.

At The Conversation, he took questions from a panel of two, and then from a pile that had been written by the audience at the beginning of the programme. Throughout, it is significant that not once did he read from a prepared text. He did not have an army of aides whispering clarifications of questions or explaining elementary concepts. He avoided no questions.

Was I satisfied with every answer he provided? No. There were a couple in which I felt he was under-prepared.But was I satisfied with him? Absolutely. It was the first time since 1983 when, as a young journalist, I joined a panel to interview the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, that I encountered a Nigerian politician at a very high level who spoke with confidence, control, and conviction. He was on the floor for a couple of hours, pausing only to drink water. He did not go to the bathroom or pause for a doctor to monitor his vitals.

You could tell not simply that Obi is literate, but that he is educated and that should you seek his certificates, he will give them. You could tell that he is not intimidated by books or facts, and that should he see a library, he would walk in not as a tourist but as a reader.

You could tell not simply that he is educated, but that he wants to extend that privilege to Nigerians in their own country. He explained his philosophy, including why it is outrageous that in a country in which there is supposedly a government, the ASUU strike has been permitted to keep students at home for over half of 2022.

He addressed the correlation between education and poverty, advocating the first as the antidote to the second. He pointed out how, by merely implementing the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, such nations as India and China lowered their poverty rates.

Who should be the next Nigerian leader? He warned that the forthcoming election “will be about character we can trust, competence, capacity, commitment to do the right thing,” dismissing the absurdity about the presidency being conceivably someone’s “turn.” The election, he affirmed, is a political contest and “not a chieftaincy title,” and “will not be about connection.”

On corruption, Mr Obi drew attention to the importance of leadership by example. “Corruption kills entrepreneurship, professionalism, and hard work,” he said, stressing that it must be fought through the personal example of the leader, his family and those around them.

He called on Nigerians not to vote based on sentiments of religion or ethnicity because the same challenges confront Nigerians everywhere. “Don’t vote for me because I am from the South-East,” he said. “If you go to the North, it is not safer than the South. It will not be about religion (either); Muslims don’t buy bread cheaper than the Christians.”

Members of the PDP and APC have often dismissed Obi’s popularity on the grounds that his party lacks a structure. Responding, Mr Obi said, “The structure they talk about is the structure of criminality and that is what I’m coming to dismantle.”

Predictably, the crowd roared because everyone knows how APC and the PDP have rigged their way into those offices over the years with arrogance, using money, the security agencies, thugs, and even the electoral commission.

*What is Obi, then? If you think of him merely as a contestant for public office, you miss the point. Obi is a conversation, a confession, and an opportunity to rethink. He is the epochal conversation Nigeria has not had with itself since the rails fell off following the civil war in 1970. He is a confession that this conversation—demanded far more by the #EndSARS generation than the Grand Ballroom demographic—is not optional.*

I recommend this template,as a non-campaign engagement at home or abroad to hear and be heard. Office-seekers who are comfortable with ideas, or whose power is not in buying support with money or aides who love unearned riches more than they do their families, should try it.

*Let us talk about what constitutes hope for Nigeria. Let us hear your ideas. That is what Peter Obi is doing. And he is not renting his crowds.*

(Sonala Olumhense is a Veteran Journalist, syndicated Colunmist and Author)
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Opinion

2023: I Stand With the Youths,The Old Ones Should Fade Away – Abdulsalami Abubakar

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Former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar has expressed reservations about the continued domination of political activities by the older people, saying it is time to create space for the younger generation.

“I think the right thing for the country is that old ones should fade away gracefully and allow young people to take over,”

“What we can do as former leaders is to mentor and tutor them in whatever way we can in order for them to lead the country.

“As a matter of fact, this is the time Nigerians should begin to support young, vibrant, and visionary leaders that would steer the country on the path of glory”

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