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.
Ahead of the November 3, 2019 governorship primary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Bayelsa State, the state governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson and the former Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Chief Timi Alaibe, have continued to accuse each camp of blackmail and betraying the party at various times.
Dickson, who will complete his eight years term on February 14, 2020 is working to install what has been termed “his stooge” as the next governor of the state, and he is seeing Alaibe, who is also contesting for the ticket of PDP as his major threat, having enjoyed the support of former President Goodluck Jonathan and his allies.
Governor Dickson, last week urged well-meaning Nigerians to disregard a sinister blackmail orchestrated by Chief Timi Alaibe and his blackmail antics.
The state governor in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media Relations, Mr. Fedelis Soriwei, accused Alaibe of circulating a cynically manipulated version of addresses he delivered during political meetings and other fora with the intent to blackmail him for assumed political benefits.
The statement quoted the governor as saying that the former NDDC boss was resorting to blackmail out of desperation to win the gubernatorial primaries of the PDP at all costs.
The governor said that it was absurd that Alaibe would go to the extent of manipulating audio recordings of his speeches for distribution to respected Nigerians with the intent to blackmail him.
He maintained that he regards all the aspirants including Alaibe as his brothers and friends and would not do anything to destroy any one of them.
However, Gov Dickson noted that Alaibe was at liberty to play the same game that he has been playing against all the governors of the state.
He said that Nigerians and leaders of the PDP should expect more of such blackmail as the state moved closer to the September 3, 2019 party primaries.
Dickson however enjoined Alaibe to focus his attention on the Bayelsa people especially the delegates who are empowered by law to decide who should be the gubernatorial candidate of the PDP.
The governor explained that acceptability and popularity rather political desperation and manipulative action would make one of the 21 gubernatorial aspirants under the PDP to emerge winner at the forthcoming primaries.
He said that the surreptitious bid to mudsling was unnecessary as only one of the 21 aspirants most of who are qualified to govern the state would fly the party’s flag.
The state chief executive maintained that while he remained a major stakeholder in the gubernatorial contest in Bayelsa as the leader of the party, it was his own right to decide who to support and vote for.
He said, “It has come to the attention of the government that the former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, Chief Timi Alaibe, has been spreading manipulated audio recordings of Governor Dickson’s public utterance during meetings.
“It is curious that Alaibe would rather dissipate energy to the propagation of mischief rather than focusing attention on his gubernatorial campaigns.
“We wish to reiterate for the umpteenth time that the governor as a major stakeholder in the issue of the governorship primaries is entitled to his own political views and decisions. That does not preclude any politician with genuine interest from testing his popularity with the delegates.
“It is important to stress also that the Governor’s decision not to reward disloyalty with the candidacy of the party is an informed decision of conviction.
“Alaibe would do well to focus on the campaigns to actualize his aspiration rather than the spreading of a campaign of calumny against a man whose name is not on the ballot.
“Nigerians and leaders of the PDP should expect more of this blackmail as we move closer to the primaries.”
But Chief Alaibe in his reaction through the administrative secretary of his campaign, Prof. Seiyefa Brisebe, told the governor that his campaign team is too focused to be distracted by any means.
He said: “For the records, let it be stated that we as a campaign organisation, take serious exception to the wrong use of tar-brush loaded words and gutter language to describe the person of our principal with the intent to incite the public against him; particularly over an issue he knows absolutely nothing about. This is unacceptable.
“Neither Alaibe nor any member of his campaign organisation was at the meetings referred to in the public statement issued yesterday. If any of us has access to the recorded discussion mentioned in the public statement, such access can only be traced to the originators of the statement. Our focus is to conduct our campaign on issues that will lead to the development of Bayelsa State through a shared economic prosperity and not waste energy and time on commonplace matters.
“Since the beginning of the search for a successor to Dickson, and in spite of provocative and insulting statements by certain individuals and groups, including serving commissioners in the state, this is the first time we have decided to say enough is enough. Our silence should not be misconstrued to mean timidity, fear or any such thing. It was basically and still a measure of the respect we and our principal have for the person and office of the governor. Unfortunately, that respect has not been reciprocated.
“At the point of expressing interest in this race, we were enjoined by the party leadership to run a clean campaign. We have been faithful to that directive and will continue to be. This is an internal contest in which the eventual choice of the party would need the support of other contestants to win the governorship election. It would therefore be unhelpful to take up issues with anyone as though winning the party ticket is a matter of life and death; certainly not with the governor who is neither a contestant in the race nor expected to sponsor any of the aspirants.
“Let it be known that we are not desperate but determined to win this race, by the grace of God. We will not allow ourselves to be distracted neither shall we engage in any indecent act or sinister strategies for the sake of this race. We are too focused to be distracted,” he said.
As the November 16 draws near, many political pundits in the state believe that if PDP primary is not well managed, it may explode by itself and give the opposition in the state advantage.