Covid-19 is not generally reckoned with as real in large parts of (rural) Benue State and life has basically been going on as if the pandemic is a fairy tale. Somehow and unlike Kano, there has been nothing like mass death in the area. Whether the state has gone away with it or faces an unclear future is what remains unclear.
But the story might be changing rapidly as Covid-19 has thrown the Benue State University, Makurdi, otherwise known as BENSU into a major disarray . The university was shut Monday for what the university authorities call a pre-emptive move. A statement to that effect by the Registrar, Dr. (Mrs) Mfaga Modom, said specifically that the action is “in line with Covid-19 preventive measure”.
But the university has been enveloped in a panic mood for days now following a large number of top officials of the institution who have been reported to have tested positive. The alarm bells have been heard far and near, suggesting to anyone who has visited any administrative office in the university within the past one week to immediately self quarantine.
The rumor mill had it that the Vice Chancellor, Professor Nsug Kembe, and no less than 8 others, mostly professors but also the Chief of Staff to the Benue State governor, had all tested positive and were in hospital. Anyone who had been around the Academic Office and who was experiencing any of the symptoms of Covid-19 was advised to call the Benue State Corona Hotline.
On Tuesday, June 30th, 2020, the university changed the narrative to say the university was only shut for the purpose of fumigating the offices already listed in the statement closing the school. These are the Office of the Vice-Chancellor, Registrar, Deputy Vice-Chancellors, the Senate Chamber and the Academic Office.
With the students already on the Covid-19/ASUU forced holidays, it means the university is now a complete shell of itself except for the the security, health, fire and water treatment segments of the university exempted from the closure dynamics, meaning they will continue to function. As of now, there is no mention of when the university might be re-opened, with the statement merely saying the re-opening date will be communicated.
At the moment, there is no knowing if the government or the power elite are planning to intensify public enlightenment or hoping that it would all fizzle with time.