Usman Yusuf, former NHIS Executive Secretary (right)A Nigerian professor of medicine, Usman Yusuf, has warned that Kano State may become like China’s former epicentre of Coronavirus (COVID-19), Wuhan, if the federal government should fail to quickly arrest the situation in the state.
This is the second time professor Usman, the immediate past Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), would be calling on the federal and Kano state governments to take urgent steps to address the rising cases of COVID-19 in the state.
The professor of Haematology-Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplantation had earlier warned that the state may become the epicentre of COVID-19 in Africa following reports that a “strange disease” had killed at least 150 people within 48 hours in the state.
Usman, on Saturday, issued another warning to the government as well as recommendations that may help to address the Kano situation.
“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,” he said.
The professor regretted that the Kano branch of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) had to be shut down after officials of the agency contracted the virus because they were allegedly not provided with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
He also blamed negligence on the part of the Governor Abdullahi Ganduje-led administration for the spread of COVID-19 in Jigawa and Katsina states first.
Usman said it was “very thoughtless” of the Ganduje administration to deport thousands of Almajiris in Kano to their respective states amid the Coronavirus pandemic without determining their COVID-19 status.
“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 N15bn 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,” he said.
Usman recommended among others; immediate and forceful federal presence in Kano, the relocation of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to Kano, as well as the reopening of the Kano NCDC branch for increased COVID-19 testing.