Tony Osauzo, Benin, Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja, Priscilla Ediare, Ado-Ekiti, John Adams, Minna
Tension has heightened across the country as more governors await results of the coronavirus tests. At press time, at least six governors said they had undergone the tests, for which Bauchi State governor, Bala Mohammed, had earlier tested positive.
He is believed to have contracted it after being exposed to the disease on at least two occasions: he was in Germany, one of the worst-hit countries, and also met with a son of Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President, who also tested positive for the virus.
There are now 46 confirmed cases in Nigeria, and one death, but the infection has hit those at the top levels of society, including President Muhammadu Buhari’s chief of staff. With a population of 200 million, 20 million of whom are packed in the commercial capital of Lagos, many fear the virus could spread quickly without containment.
Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has tested negative. Laolu Akande, Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Office of the Vice President, confirmed this to State House correspondents on Wednesday in Abuja.
Osinbajo has been in self-isolation, in accordance with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) protocol.
“I have been inundated with calls on whether indeed the Vice President had undergone a COVID-19 test and the outcome. Yes, he has done the test and the results is negative,’’ Akande said.
Those awaiting their results include Governors Godwin Obaseki (Edo) and Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti).
This came as Speaker of Edo State House of Assembly, Frank Okiye, tested positive.
Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu, who announced this yesterday when he briefed journalists at Government House, Benin City, said: “Okiye travelled to the United Kingdom, came back and self-isolated. He sent his sample for testing and the test came back positive. He is in stable condition. His family members have been tested and the tests came back negative.”
He said the Speaker was receiving medical attention at the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital.
The deputy governor announced that Obaseki was in self-isolation, following his close contact with Bauch’is Governor Mohammed and Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, who have both tested positive for coronavirus.
The deputy governor added that Obaseki has sent his samples for testing.
“On his own, the governor avoided meeting with everybody when he arrived Benin from Abuja and has maintained social distance before going into self-isolation,” he said.
Shaibu said 111 persons were being tracked by the Edo State government, adding that government was already in touch with 64 per cent of those being tracked, with six of them isolated and five samples taken.
Meanwhile, Governor Gboyega Oyetola of Osun and his wife, Kafayat, have tested negative.
Oyetola told journalists at a news conference at the Government House in Osogbo that he submitted himself for the test to know his status.
“I spent the better part of last week in Abuja.”
The governor said his wife also submitted self for the test “because of her recent travel history. Considering the fact that I was in Abuja for the better part of last week, as a way of leading by example, I have also subjected myself to test.
“My wife, because of her recent travel history, also subjected herself to test. Both came back negative,” he said.
Oyetola also confirmed the first case of the virus in the state, saying it was confirmed by the NCDC.
The governor said the confirmed case was a returnee from the United Kingdom and is currently receiving treatment.
According to him, government has contacted the family of the patient and has since commenced contact tracing to identify people who might have been in contact with the index case.
“The sample was tested at the NCDC accredited testing centre: the African Centre of Excellence in Genomics of Infectious Diseases in Ede, Osun. The result released on Tuesday night was positive.
“However, this confirmed case is not the first one we will be subjecting to investigation. But so far, all the others had tested negative.”
Oyetola also appealed to all returnees from the UK, the US, Europe, the West African Coast and, indeed, other high-risk countries to self-isolate and submit selves to test.
His counterpart in Kogi, Bello, has also proceeded on self-isolation after meeting with Kyari about a week ago.
Bello said: “I ain’t got no Covid. Those who wish me to have Covid will have HIV. I’m good, hale and hearthy and I’m challenging everyone to the boxing ring. I”m gonna beat the hell out of them.”
Similarly, Governors Sani Bello of Niger and Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa have gone into self-isolation with immediate effect.
Governor Bello’s self-isolation, according to a statement, was as a result of his numerous outings, including the Nigerian Governors’ Forum meeting on March 18, which comprised his colleagues, including the Bauchi State governor.
A statement issued by Yakubu Lamai, Director General, Strategic Communication and Press Affairs, said Governor Sule would now work from home.
According to him, the governor has earlier invited a medical team from NCDC to conduct comprehensive tests on him and they have taken his samples.
While noting that, so far, all the results from the test, showed negative, Lamai added that the public would be informed on new developments regarding the health of the governor, as well as other government officials.
Meanwhile, Daily Sun learnt that the four children of a first class traditional ruler in Niger, who reportedly tested positive returned to Nigeria last weekend from the United Kindom, where they were studying.
It was gathered that the children were among the seven “contacts” the technical committee on the control of the coronavirus was studying.
It was learnt that due to the seriousness of their cases, they have all been moved to Abuja for proper medical attention and isolation. It could not be confirmed if the children had contact with their traditional ruler father or their siblings and friends.
The technical committee refused to give names of the seven people under observation at the isolation centre in Minna.
As precautionary measure against exposure to the Coronavirus pandemic, Director General of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), Asishana Okauru, said he and other staff of the forum who were exposed to Governor Mohammed were in self-isolation.
He has urged all those who were invited to the NGF meetings for presentations to do the same and make themselves available for tests, where applicable.
Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, last week Wednesday, briefed governors on the ravaging scourge and efforts to contain it. The governors received presentations from representatives of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group.
In a statement, Okauru said he was in isolation with his wife, Ifueko Omoigui, former executive chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and his entire household.
“I attended different meetings of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and the Nigerian Economic Council last week, which were also attended by the Bauchi State Governor.
“Consequently, my wife and I would be undergoing COVID-19 testing this week We will self-isolate and take the stringent measures possible to protect the general public.”
Army prepares for lockdown, mass burials
The Nigerian Army is preparing to forcibly transfer the sick to hospital and enforce curbs on movement to try to shield the country from coronavirus, and is leasing equipment for “possible mass burial.”
The operation, tagged ‘Op-Second Eleven,’ has been sanctioned by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai.
This was contained in a memo signed by the Nigerian Army’s Chief of Policy and Plans, Lt-Gen. Lamidi Adeosun, and copied to 112 recipients, including all the subdivisions of the army.
The memo directed the suspension of all projected 2020 events of the army that involved large gatherings including meetings, briefings, and conferences.
Adeosun, recalled that the army chief had, early this year, predicted the likely activation of Op-Second Eleven in the course of the year 2020. He said, with the recently recorded cases of COVID-19 in Nigeria, the likelihood of the Federal Government calling for the activation of Op-Second Eleven could not be ruled out.
The Army is also planning to “secure all major food stores and government storage facilities for essential goods from looting. It is also planning coordination with sister services, Nigeria Police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Fire Service and others on enforcing a restriction on movement and other directives by government.”
Adeosun said Buratai has directed that, aside from suspension of most programmes slated for this year, the army is also making plans to lease out excavators, trucks, water tankers and other relevant vehicles to aid the operation in the area of possible mass burial, water, and essential food/drugs supplies.
Soyinka hits out at FG, religious leaders
Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka has criticised the response of the Federal Government and religious leaders to the coronavirus pamdemic in Nigeria.
Over the weekend, some preachers reportedly ignored government directives about social distancing and went ahead with Sunday services, which were attended by thousands of congregants.
Soyinka said the government should have had enough isolation centres, well-stocked pharmacies and research centres that would have helped deal with the crisis.
Soyinka has been in self-isolation for nine days after returning from the United States.
He told the BBC’s Charles Mgbolu: “They have been treated with kid gloves for too long … I think there is too much political correctness going on.
“What the government should do in such instances is to take note of these contraveners of common sense and ensure that they are punished after this crisis is over or at some point or the other.
“We have to take on churches and mosques, religions of any kind, including traditional religions, that misbehave, and let them understand that they are living in very different times than that of their imagination.”