Covid-19: Northern Elders Blame FG for not taking appropriate measure to contain the spread of the virus

The Northern Elders Forum, NEF, has chided the federal and states governments for not taking appropriate steps to contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

This came on a day family of the index case in Benue State, Mrs. Susan Okpe Idoko, demanded a re-run of her COVID-19 test, which indicated she tested positive for the virus, following the controversies that trailed the earlier test.

The northern elders in a statement signed by convener of the Forum, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, yesterday, also commiserated with Nigerians over the various effects of the COVID 19 pandemic now threatening lives and livelihood and causing unprecedented concerns and misery among the populace.

According to him, the efforts of governments at containing the spread of the virus are not satisfactory.

He said: “The nation should have been better prepared to deal with it.”

The elders, however, commended individuals and corporate bodies who have made major contributions to manage the effects of the pandemic and reduce the hardship occasioned by it.

Prof Abdullahi stated: “We also commend the restraint and discipline of Nigerians who have heeded the instructions and advice of the authorities to adopt measures that have greatly limited their abilities to pursue legitimate livelihoods, as well as their freedom.More in Home

“The Forum sympathises with families of Nigerians who lost lives as a result of the infection of the virus or who have contracted it, and joins millions in praying for their recovery.

“The Forum is concerned that the absence of any serious effort by federal and state governments to cushion the effects of the necessary restrictions imposed on citizens are raising doubts over the effectiveness of these measures in the long term, and threatening to scuttle all efforts to contain the spread the virus.

“Mistakes made in some parts of the country which gave citizens no opportunities to prepare for lockdowns are being compounded by failures to follow through with provisions of assistance in the form of essentials of life, such as food.

‘’Promises are not being honoured, leading to erosion of faith in authorities by citizens and violations of lockdown orders. There is rising frustration and anger among the population which all governments must address immediately.

‘’Resources must be released to enable distribution of food and other essentials in a transparent manner. The Forum calls on citizens to continue to observe measures that will protect them from the virus, even in the face of hardships.

‘’Governments must, as a matter of extreme urgency and national security, immediately embark on massive distribution of food and other essentials to the poor in particular.

“All further measures should reflect the highest standards of leadership and responsibility of governments and other sources to support their effective implementation. Support in terms of assistance should be contingent on the degree of compliance with essential regulations by governments and citizens.

“This is a national and global crisis that requires national unity and collaboration, and no one should be allowed to divert attention from efforts at containment, or divert resources meant to assist particularly the poor.

“The Federal Government must lead in this direction, and should, in addition, lead a long-term assessment of this pandemic on the survival of our economy and that of the African continent.”

Meanwhile, as controversy continues to trail the purported COVID-19 index case in Benue State, Mrs Susan Okpe Idoko Lawani, her family has demanded a re-run of the coronavirus test which earlier indicated she tested positive.

Spokesperson of the family, Dr Felix Lawani, who is Susan’s elder brother, alleged that the purported test result earlier generated by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, was never shown to the family or the hospital where she was admitted.

In a telephone interview with Vanguard yesterday, Lawani, disclosed that the Minister of Health, Professor Osagie Ehanire, and the state governor, Samuel Ortom, have agreed that a re-run of the test for Susan should be done.

Lawani, who is a Pathologist and Medical Consultant on contract with the Federal University of Agriculture, Markudi, said Susan came in from the United Kingdom for their mother’s burial but fell ill four days later.

“My sister is a British citizen, she had earlier tested herself and children for COVID-19 and they were allegedly negative. Five days later, she complained of pain and feverish condition so we took her to the hospital.

‘’The hospital collected her history and treated her for malaria and typhoid. The next day, her temperature came down and we insisted that she needed to be screened for COVID-19 since she was coming from a high-risk country.

“Her sample was taken with the hope that the result would be out on Saturday, but what we saw was a press conference by the governor of the state, saying she was positive and that she was an index case. The state government officials, security men and ambulance besieged the hospital.

“We didn’t like that because we expected that if the result was positive, the doctor looking after her would have told her at least. Till now, she doubts the result. We prevailed on her to allow the government take her to the isolation centre because you cannot fight the government.

‘’She agreed and went with them to where they called isolation centre at Benue State University Hospital in Makurdi, and she has been there since.”

Responding to Susan’s refusal to cooperate with the government, Lawani alleged that during the first two days she was at the isolation centre, no medical personnel came to take her history.

According to him, she was angry because she believed she was being used for a show.

Lawani said Susan was further annoyed and irritated each time the officials came to talk to her, they came with video to record their interface with her.

‘’The most annoying part is that each time they want to come and talk to her, they will be videoing her, and that really irritated her.’’

He told Vanguard that the Minister of Health, Prof Osagie Ehanire, contacted the family on the issue with a promise to rectify the situation.

He added: “The latest is that the Minister of Health was approached, he called me and spoke to her briefly, he promised to rectify mistakes made by the state. The governor and the Minister spoke to me that they will take decision whether to move her to Abuja or rerun the test. She is uncooperative because she is traumatized.

“For me, as the elder brother, I don’t want to be distracted by the mistakes of the state government. Obviously, the situation is affecting her physiologically, to the extent that she has refused to speak to any of her relations, even me.

“The summary is that the result purported to be weakly positive was not shown to her, instead they decide to forcibly take her to an isolation centre and that didn’t go down well with her. They are contemplating moving her to Abuja. That is her request.”