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.
The Member Representing Ikot Abasi, Mkpat Enin and Eastern Obolo Federal Constituency in the Federal House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Francis Charles Uduyok, in a motion he moved on the floor of the National Assembly on July 24, 2019 has called for an investigation into the Federal Government abandoned projects from 1999 till date.
Uduyok argued that “the alarming number of projects which were awarded to contractors by the Federal Government agencies, parastatals, ministries, commission and boards from 1999 that have been abandoned is worrisome,” noting that “these projects were estimated to be about 20,000 and have received advanced payment of not less than 50%, which in total amount to billions of naira;” adding that some of these abandoned projects include “important establishments like dams, bridges, hospitals, steel company, and access roads like the East-West road that was awarded in 2006 and yet to be completed after more than a decade.”
Considering the nature of the country’s economy, he highlighted that the abandoned projects have become pipes that drain Federal Government funds due to the inflationary rate that are obtainable when the Federal Government decides to revive the project after many years they were awarded.”
Calling for a change in attitude, he noted that “even though this trend has been in vogue, there is a need to change, if the nation is to have a meaningful development in terms of infrastructure and social services.”
According to him, “The House is also concerned that some of those abandoned projects are currently being occupied by hoodlums and miscreants who use them as abode to plan their nefarious activities just as The Guardian Newspaper of May 13, 2019 reported on the abandoned Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) building in Lagos, which experts say is worth about N50 billion, has been lying idle for over 40 years…, and has become safe den for smokers, criminals and abode for miscreants.”
He stressed that the House also believes in the vision of the current administration to move the nation forward, hence the need to factor into future budgetary funds to ensure the completion of the projects.
Hence, he called for a resolution “to set up an ad hoc committee to investigate the abandoned projects from 1999 till date, the cost of award, period of award, state of completion and constraint and report back within three months for further legislative action.”
Uduyok went on to emphasis that “It’s more in the news in Nigeria that projects have been abandoned; they are scattered across the length and breadth of this country, and these projects when completed could have been of economic importance to the wellbeing of the people of Nigeria.
“We are aware that most commissions, parastatals, and agencies that awarded these jobs, sometimes abandoned them because of contractual misunderstanding of either design or variation issues; most often some of them have been mobilized and they are not found on site.
“So it is important to look at this issue, how we can move this country forward by ensuring a compendium of all these projects with a view to ascertaining the major and immediate causes of abandonment and to ensure that in further budgets we will include them to ensure that they are completed for the benefits of ordinary Nigerians.
The motion collaborates the efforts of some interest groups like Citizens Center for Integrated Development and Social Rights (CCIDESOR) alongside Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) who in 2018 had jointly urged the National Assembly and States Assembly to enhance legislation against projects abandonment in the country.
The motion was ably supported by Isiaka Ayokunde Ibrahim saying,
“Nothing can be so apt than what the Honourable Member – Hon.Francis has brought to the notice of the floor for honourable members to consider; if there is anything, one of the plaques disturbing us as a society and as Nigerians, it is the issue of abandoned projects here and there. Some of these projects are even obsolete, not fit for any purpose any longer in Nigeria anymore; but it is surprising that each time every year, respective MDAs keep reflecting them in the budget. Besides this, if nothing, it is good to have a compendium of the abandoned projects, it is going to require huge man hours to have such a humongous assignment to be done or completed. But a journey of 1000km, we should start with a step, so that we start to archive all the abandoned projects in this country. From there it is going to be a tool, kind of condition assessment of what we have as assets for the executive of the Federal Government to form a structure for research for developmental purposes. I see it as an asset that we have as a compendium of.”
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives in reaction to the motion has constituted ad-hoc committees to look into the issue of abandoned projects in the country as postulated by Rt. Hon. Francis Uduyok.