By Michael West
“Few days earlier, we were still mourning the painful exit of Prof. Israel Adu, former Vice Chancellor of Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta; Chief Oluremi Omotoso, former Chairman, Oodua Group; Udom Nkiruka Chinasa of AIT and Prof. Emeritus of Medicine, Oladipupo Akinkugbe, when the news filtered in that Ibidun Itua-Ighodalo has passed on. What a mourning week in Nigeria and for Nigerians! The harvest of deaths must stop whether it is from Covid-19 or by other sundry causes. Our eyes are dry because we have no more tears to shed, we have wept enough. O Lord, heal our land!”
_*“I think there’s a conspiracy in the global health sector to merchandise the pandemic. If the Nigerian situation is in doubt, how about the case of Congolese Nobel Peace Prize winner, Dr. Denis Mukwege, who voluntarily resigned from his country’s disease control agency over discrepancies in infection figures?”*_
The rising cases of sudden and sickness-induced deaths recorded in the last one week in Nigeria is alarming. Nigerians are mourning. Many of those passing away these days are known personalities and their exit elicits shock, grief and despair. May it never be a subtle fulfilment of Melinda Gates’ evil pronouncement that she saw “dead bodies on the streets of Africa” due to ravaging effects of Covid-19 pandemic. Thousands have died and some are still dying in some parts of the United States of America, Brazil, Italy, China, Britain et al. Such will never be our lot in Nigeria.
Covid-19 is real and it is spreading here. I believe we should be more careful and observant at this risky period. However, I believe that we can’t suffer anything near one-tenth of the casualties of the badly hit overseas countries in Africa and in Nigeria particularly. As the death rate begins to soar, the need to be consciously and proactively respond in a way to stave off the dreaded but treatable virus becomes paramount. In the last one week, no fewer than 12 notable Nigerians have passed on in quick and worrisome succession. Some died due to complications of Covid-19 infection while others died as a result of various health challenges. Certainly it is not every death that has something to do with Covid-19.
The management of the pandemic in Nigeria by the authorities is not tidy enough. Haphazard approach that leaves rooms for suspicion of ulterior motives and unprofessional conduct of some National Centre for Disease Control, NCDC’s officials further casts doubt on the sincerity of the agency in its daily infection score lines. The so-called index case of Benue State is an open demonstration of executive abuse. Apart from the fact that details of her Covid-19 test result did not tally with her record, she was confined for more than 40 days for the reasons known to the state government and the NCDC. Watching her narrative in a released video wherein she detailed her ordeal was provoking and inhumane. This goes to show that until recently, the state was actually Covid-19-free.
There was another case of the NCDC sending text messages to people to admit being tested positive in exchange for monetary gain. This is apart from the alleged cases of attributing every medical condition to Covid-19 in some government hospitals. There are allegations that health workers in government hospitals have been instructed to reach a target of numbers on daily or weekly basis. While every story on social media cannot be trusted, some are verifiable. Imagine a child that sustained injury while playing with his mate that was taken to a hospital for treatment only for his card to be marked as “Covid-19, treated and discharged.”
I think there’s a conspiracy in the global health sector to merchandise the pandemic. If the Nigerian situation is in doubt, how about the case of Congolese Nobel Peace Prize winner, Dr. Denis Mukwege, who voluntarily resigned from his country’s disease control agency over discrepancies in infection figures? According to the online version of the story, the statesman stated that “I cannot in any case dirty my Nobel Peace Prize for money, we have been ordered to declare any illness to be coronavirus and any death.” We have heard similar stories here in Nigeria.
More annoying was the NCDC’s officials’ remark that it is not obligatory for them to release Covid-19 test results to those who were tested. They even went further to caution those released from isolation centres not to disclose the medications administered on them to the public. I was utterly disappointed in the Nigeria Medical Association, NMA, for keeping quiet over the rape on professional practice, ethics and standard. To my best of knowledge, patients’ consent are needed for treatment of any kind. They are also entitled to know the drugs they take as well as mandatory for them to know, see and own copies of the results of every test carried out on them. For the NCDC to boisterously make those illegal utterances without a word of response from the NMA is disappointing. No wonder our federal legislators were in a hurry to pass into law the mandatory vaccination bill without recourse to the people’s input, interest and right. There’s a high-level conspiracy against the Nigerian people by those who should cover their back.
In many countries of the world, isolation centres and Covid-19 patients in hospitals are shown at news hours or during daily updates on the pandemic. But here, it is score lines of unverifiable figures that always feature on our television screen. Despite criticisms that trail the approach, NCDC remains adamant. Publicly, President Donald Trump of the United States announced the use of chloroquine phosphate in the treatment of the viral infection as approved by the food and drug administration, FDA. Despite being criticized for “illegal prescription” because he’s not a medic, yet, many Americans use the drug as part of their medications in treating themselves. The drug was later validated for use by the World Health Organisation, WHO.
Likewise, we expect our government to make public prescriptions that will facilitate speedy recovery and treatment of Covid-19 patients as a way of curbing the spread of the virus in public domain. Let Nigerians take care of themselves to lessen the burden on the government as well as reduce pressure on the available facilities. If government is truly not interested in flaunting high fatality figures to justify money received or as a means to attract more donations from donor agencies and international humanitarian orgainsations, they should encourage Nigerians to take care of themselves in addition to sanitary rules and social distancing.
The scary death of notable people in the recent days is worrisome. Expectedly, people die daily in Nigeria courtesy of bandits, Fulani herdsmen, rapists, accidents, sicknesses and lately Covid-19 complications. Most of the recent deaths were attributed to Covid-19 complications. When Senator Bola Tinubu’s chief security officer died, it was days later that the narrative changed to saying he died of Covid-19 related disease. Osun State Deputy Chief of Staff was also said to have died of Covid-19 infection. The most recent of Covid-19 related deaths are those of Senator Bayo Osinowo and ace broadcaster Dan Foster who died on Wednesday.
Few days earlier, we were still mourning the painful exit of Prof. Israel Adu, former Vice Chancellor of Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta; Chief Oluremi Omotoso, former Chairman, Oodua Group; Udom Nkiruka Chinasa of AIT and Prof. Emeritus of Medicine, Oladipupo Akinkugbe, when the news filtered in that Ibidun Itua-Ighodalo has passed on. What a mourning week in Nigeria and for Nigerians! The harvest of deaths must stop whether it is from Covid-19 or by other sundry causes. Our eyes are dry because we have no more tears to shed, we have wept enough. O Lord, heal our land!
_*• Michael West wrote via [email protected] 08059964446*_