Adding “widespread complaints of hunger” to its observed list of disturbing indicators in Nigeria’s Kano City, an intellectual crew of five is insisting on all academics, intellectuals and leaders of thought in Kano State to, individually and collectively, begin to crack their crisis management brains because it thinks the Kano State Government is either too slow or overwhelmed by the crisis.
In an SOS to the city’s intellectuals, captains of business and leaders of thought for the magical intervention, the intellectual crew to be known by the acronym of MABICACK (Mobilising Academia, Business and Industry Community Against COVID 19 in Kano) says the leading question now is: What can we offer by way of suggestions, actions and concrete engagements to help in addressing the crisis in the state?
Made up of Prof. Jibrin Ibrahim, a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Democracy and Development, (CDD); Mallam Y. Z. Ya’u, Director of the Centre for Information Technology and Development, (CITAD); Dr. M. A. Aliyu of Bayero University, Kano; Dr. Aminu Hayatu also of Bayero University, Kano and Alhaji Bashir Mohammed who is from the private sector in Kano, MABICACK says the business community should step up contributions that will go into upscaling testing centres, providing care and support and supplement government’s palliative plans.
Arguing that the time to think and act is NOW, MABICACK is uncomfortable with what it calls leadership gap in the fight against COVID-19 in the state, saying that the state’s Task Force has gone comatose since certain members tested positive for the virus without it being expanded or reconstituted by the governor.
Aside from lack of communication between the Government and the governed after one week of locking the city down, MABICACK is alarmed that, earlier today, there was confusion at the only testing centre in the state and testing had to be suspended, leaving everyone unclear about what led to the confusion and the decision to suspend testing.
It is contrasting Kano with Lagos State which it says has been able to establish multiple testing centres in each of its 20 local government areas but not Kano State with the largest population in the country unable to manage its only testing centre. For MABICACK, this means that neither new measures nor consultation with different stakeholders by the State Government are greeting alarming figure of daily confirmed new cases.
“During the week, there have been unconfirmed stories of a significant rise in the death rate in the city. These stories have fired the imagination of those who wish Kano to be the epicentre of the corona pandemic in Nigeria if not in Africa, hoping to find an essentialist explanation and narrative for this development. In the face of such widely spread “news” there is has been no effective response from the state government”, said the crew which is berating the absence of comprehensive pronouncement by the State Governor on palliatives “exactly one week since the commencement of the lockdown in the state”.
There has been no reaction yet from the Kano State Government as to whether it is overwhelmed or too slow but it will not be such a disagreeable statement to say that most governments in Nigeria are lost in terms of how to unpack a pandemic in general and COVID-19 in particular. Apart from the fact of the novelty and scale of grip on the world that COVID has, nobody has experienced anything of this type in the past 100 years. The worst aspect which is peculiar to Nigeria is how most people in government have absolutely no expertise in managing complexity. Having been appointed on the basis of so-called loyalty and political considerations, a challenge such as COVID-19 is a complete mystery to most of the top government officials especially in technical matters as public health. This is subject to further correction but, aside from the Bauchi State governor, there are not many other governors whose Commissioner for Health has any pedigree in public health management, either in terms of competitive qualification, advocacy or involvement. Lagos State shinning relatively would not be unconnected with a medical practitioner who knows his onions and can call up residual forces in the medical constituency into a COVID-19 war cabinet peculiar to the state even as COVID-19 is a global health governance rulebooks.
Meanwhile, MABICACK has given email@example.com as its interim contact.