Political will and the challenges of Covid-19 in Kano, By Mustapha Kangiwa

In the words of scholars like Jeremy Bentham diversity and fragility within political order is inevitable albeit productive and solid method of nation building and development. Such political thinkers were confident that representative democracy would ensure congruence between the interest of the ruling class and those of the community as a whole. If there is a better time for such congruence to manifest in our political arena in Kano it must be now. Politicians within and outside the ruling party must put their political differences aside and strike a balance between politics and community servicing. But we are probably missing this in Kano and that will not augur well with the state.

It is now evident that the war against Covid-19 pandemic in Kano is becoming a doom and disastrous destiny. The fast escalating figures of the people getting infected, coupled with the ongoing mysterious death across the metropolitan city is disturbing and alarming. The state has overtaken all other states that recorded their first case almost a month before its own. It has occupied the second position on the NCDC’s list and has taken the lead in terms of new confirmed cases. Out of the 238 new cases recorded on Friday across the country, Kano alone has 92 cases
which have raised its confirmed cases to 311 with 5 officially confirmed death and zero recovery. These figures as scary as they seems to appear, are seen by many observers as an underestimated figures and also a tip of an ice bag of what is coming too soon. As long as the political leadership would not rise to the occasion and do the needful we might end up having our New York in Kano.

However, the most disturbing aspect of our travail lies not only in the speed in which the deadly virus is fast spreading, but also in the way and manner the authorities are dealing with the situation. The required political will with an utmost
commitment to fight the fight is apparently missing. The handlers of the situation at the top decision making levels as well as the policy makers responsible for devising means to contain the virus are clearly missing it. They are putting less than average effort and responding hesitantly. The situation is getting worse and perhaps becoming the most unfavorable one in the whole country. More disturbing issues are evolving without concrete and applicable solution at hand.

Due to the fear of the virus spread, the existing poor health facilities that attend to patients during pre-pandemic period are hardly accessible to the people now. They are either shutdown completely or partially. Most of the private hospitals were also closed and people resolve to self-medication and relying upon the local patent medicine store attendants for diagnosis and prescriptions. This apparently increases the risk of many people with other illness being killed by the ailment as many expert would suggest.

The recent report by BBC on how doctors and other health workers in the state are backing away from the frontline is supposedly the most dangerous scenario of the whole. Unlike what other commentators perceived it, I arguably empathized with our health workers in this dilemma of a kind. Of course, because they are the most vulnerable; they can be infected easily; and we should all be concerned with their safety without which we are bound to fail the battle. They are the frontline soldiers battling with the virus day and night. Putting all their strength trying to save as many lives as they can. In a battle field, the warriors need some shields for protection against weapon blows, arrows, bullets, and projectiles. Likewise, our health workers are in dear need for protective equipment to protect themselves in the combat with the deadly virus. They have to survive in order to continue with the fight and end it to a logical conclusion.

Unfortunately, there is little or no personal protective equipment (PPE) in our hospitals the reason why our health workers are backing off. This ultimately undermine the fight against the pandemic. Without enough PPE, our health workers are more or less becoming prospective cases of covid-19 and the situation would consequently deteriorated to the uncontrollable. When the experts and professionals medical practitioners are down we will all go down with them. Worrisomely, doctors at the Aminu Kano Teaching hospital (AKTH) reportedly alleged that the authorities are doing almost nothing tangible to address this problem, hence their decision to back off.

Compounding the problem, the state government is arguably politicizing the fight against the pandemic. This is however, evident in their refusal to accept a standard 60 bed modern hospital donated by the opposition leader and the former governor Senetor Rabi’u Musa Kwnakwaso. The leader of Kwankwasiyya movement reportedly donated the newly build Amana hospital to be used as an isolation center for confirmed cases of covid-19 in the state. There is no doubt that such facility is needed and would help a long way in fighting the virus. Such politicization of the fight against the pandemic will not augur well with the state. It will also worsen the situation and intensify the existing problem of distrust between the government and the governed. If the incumbent is thinking that Kwankwaso is trying to score a
political point by offering the hospital he should have also score one by accepting the offer. Besides who else care with their political rivalry and rancor. What a common man need from them now is attention and care. Their ability to cooperate and work in coordination is the best they can offer in this situation. More importantly, the government have been asking for help from capable individuals and groups, so why rejecting this one?

The federal government also had earlier contributed in deteriorating the Kano’s condition. The Kano state government has to accuse the FG in public, for neglecting the state before they give us the attention we deserve. Thanks to the 2 weeks lockdown, reopening of the test center and setting up a special committee plus the promised supply of both material and human resources to the state. But a lot more is needed to be done to win the fight. People are still complaining of non-access to the NCDC test center and lack of adequate emergency response to suspected cases. People were reportedly often being rejected and left stranded at the gate of the hospitals and isolation centers.

People in Kano are not helping matters either. The majority refused to comply with the lockdown neither observing the social distancing and other simple instructions to protect themselves. Apart from closure of our markets, offices and Friday mosque all other activities have been unchanged. People behaves like nothing is happening and interacting freely without observing any precautionary measures.

From the fore going one will understand that the foretold situation in Kano is not by means of any supposed magic or supernatural powers. The doom predictions were done based on the available fact that only a miracle can change and I supposed we should not rely solely on that. The political leadership must to wake up and act accordingly. It is not time for politics and our lives shouldn’t be politicized.

Governments should understand that it is not even time for other projects like constructing roads and flyovers. As a matter of necessity all the available resources need to be channeled toward the fight against this virus. Adequate PPE must be provided for our health workers, test laboratories and isolation centers should also be equipped and adequate. People should be made to comply with the lock down and observe social distancing but palliatives must be given out to people without discrimination. Policy makers and professionals must work together judiciously to come up with appropriate programs to contain and fight the pandemic. More importantly, government’s doors should remain open to anybody who want to render help regardless of his political orientation or party coloration. The general yearning of the public should be given due consideration and constructive criticism of experts and analyst should be properly utilized.

May God save Kanon Dabo.

Kangiwa wrote from Kano and can be reached on 07038991601