The Federal Government, through the Federal Ministry of Health, has been strengthening measures to ensure an outbreak in Nigeria is controlled and contained quickly. The multi-sectoral Coronavirus Preparedness Group, led by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), has since activated its national Emergency Operations Centre and will work closely with Lagos State Health authorities to respond to this case and implement firm control measures. “I wish to assure all Nigerians that have we have been beefing up our preparedness capabilities since the first confirmation of cases in China, and we will use all the resources made available by the government to respond to this case. “We have already started working to identify all the contacts of the patient, since he entered Nigeria. Please be reminded that most people who become infected may experience only mild illness and recover easily, but it can be more severe in others, particularly the elderly and persons with other underlying chronic illnesses. All Nigerians should take care of their health and maintain hand and respiratory hygiene to protect themselves and others, including their own families, following the precautions below: 1. Regularly and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water, and use alcohol-based hand sanitiser. 2. Maintain at least 1 & half metres (5 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. 3. Persons with persistent cough or sneezing should stay home or keep a social distance, but not mix in crowd. 4. Make sure you and people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene, meaning cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or into your sleeve at the bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately. 5. Stay home if you feel unwell with symptoms like fever, cough and difficulty in breathing. Please call NCDC toll free number which is available day and night, for guidance- 0800-970000-10. Do not engage in self-medication 6. Stay informed on the latest developments about COVID-19 through official channels on TV and Radio, including the Lagos State Ministry of Health, NCDC and Federal Ministry of Health. Citizens must not abuse social media and indulge in spreading misinformation that causes fear and panic. The Federal Ministry of Health, through Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, will continue to provide updates and will initiate all measures required to prevent the spread of any outbreak in Nigeria,” announced Dr. Osagie Ehanire, Hon. Minister of Health. As at the time of filing this article, over 9,000 cases have been confirmed in Nigeria, over 3,000 cases have been discharged and about 300 deaths have been recorded in 35 states and the Federal Capital Territory, having carried out 48,544 tests. AKWA IBOM COVID-19 INDEX CASES -Dr Otobong Asuquo, a specialist in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, after recovering from the disease at Ibom Specialty Hospital. As at April 1, 2020, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) confirmed 5 cases of the disease in Akwa Ibom State, and Dr Otobong Asuquo, a specialist in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, was one of the cases. Dr Asuquo, in his detailed account after recovering from the disease at Ibom Specialist Hospital in Uyo, said he received a call immediately from the state COVID-19 team to get set that an ambulance would be coming to pick him. Different thoughts went through his mind: his dear wife, children, and when he saw how others in different parts of the world were passing away, he thought his end was near! At the isolation centre, Dr Asuquo said he enjoyed his stay because of the privacy, the modern facilities, and equipment at the hospital. “You don't know what is happening and who is in the next room. Constant water and light, it's like having the U.S. in Akwa Ibom,” he said in a video chat. He added that he was surprised to know that all the rooms there are equipped with Television sets (with DSTV) and that there's free WIFI for browsing the Internet, which made him stay updated and worked on his personal project. Although he was silent on the treatment he received that led to his recovery in less than two weeks, he was thankful to the state government for a job well done. “I want to give kudos to the Akwa Ibom State Government because I know without them, this wouldn't have been possible and also for the [COVID-19] team.” Akwa Ibom State so far has 35 active cases of the disease, with 2 deaths and 14 recoveries of which Dr Asuquo is one of them.
Akwa Ibom State is the Nation’s highest producer of crude oil which makes her top on the list of contributors to the nation’s purse.
Funnily, a ride across the 31 local government areas of the state does not tell a story of an oil producer and the federal government would without conscience approve a whooping N1.4billion for the design, of a proposed DPR headquarter in Abuja.
The faces of international oil companies’ operating in Akwa Ibom State are not seen. Yet the managerial headquarter of EXXONMOBIL is in Victoria Island Lagos. Most transactions of the company with its allies, vendors, servicing and, all quality recruitment are carried out in Lagos.
The consequence therefore is that whatever form of taxes that could have accrued to the state account goes elsewhere. The people of Akwa Ibom seldom feel the impact of their blessing, not even the left over from the value chain of oil exploitation and exploration.
Ironically, the EXXONMOBIL house in Lagos is a leased property. It has been the wish, in fact, a diplomatic agitation by the people of the state, even government to relocate to Akwa Ibom State and they have merely been responding with gnashed teeth with tongue in the mouth.
However, while pundits have held it that Akwa Ibom does not have the facilities to accommodate a multi-national some argue that its deliberate denial that is being meted on the people. If it is true that their consideration is based on those contemplations, then they are parasitic who want to suck their host to extinction. Their presence in the state could have gone a long way towards the development of the state.
In the same vein, it is proper to note that the oil production status of Akwa Ibom State is undermined even by the federal government. Across the south-south, being the major oil belt in the country, it is only Akwa Ibom State that lacks the presence of a single federal parastatal associated with petroleum.
This trend might seem an intangible and ignoble issue to worry about, but it is very important to the economic wellbeing of a people. Understanding that everyone cannot work in the oil sector but everybody can make a living from the activities of the oil sector. The society is a web that needs the support of another to survive. In this case, the purchasing power of the oil workers will support the small businesses of the local community. And life goes on.
For purposes records, NAPIM (National Petroleum Investment Management), the investment management arm of NNPC, DPR (Department of Petroleum Resources), are both in Ikoyi, Lagos State. Others like National Content Division (NCD) Petroleum Training Institute (PTI) are in Delta state. Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is located in Rivers State while none; none is located in Akwa Ibom State.
The amount of money earmarked for the proposed building of DPR house in Abuja is not only questionable, but it is indicative of the reluctance of both the federal government and international oil companies to spread development across the region. Early exposure to the teaching of economics says that proximity to source of raw material is an enhancement to production; when did the dynamics change? It is worth finding out.
The issues raised in the whooping expenditure in anticipation of the DPR house should call for a renewed agitation for Fiscal Federalism. The way the funds from the region is used to build Abuja alone while the owners of the resources are languishing in poverty and experiences like this should arouse a collective sense of probity.
Akwa Ibom people will not be wrong if they collectively demand for the relocation of the proposed DPR building to Uyo, the State capital. Frankly, they have no business in Abuja, socially, administratively even politically. These concerns raised to a large extent are valid and needs urgent attention. Aside the allocation that comes into Akwa Ibom State on monthly basis, the home of the Nation’s wealth has nothing to show for being blessed with crude oil.
Residents of Abuja do not in any way feel the negative impacts of oil exploration. It is those living in the hinterlands of the Niger Delta that are affected by this negative trend, it is time the federal Government and IOCs operating in the region look into their well being.