Last week, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, donated two motorised modular fumigators to Ebonyi State government to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
In her remarks at the presentation of the fumigators, Princess Kemi Fadojutimi, who spoke on behalf of the royal father’s COVID-19 team, disclosed that every state would get two motorised modular fumigators from the Ooni to fight the pandemic.
To minimise the impact of the lockdown occasioned by COVID-19 on the elderly, sick people and low-income earners, Axari Hotel and Suites, Calabar, Cross River State, distributed hundreds of support packs.
The management of Axari, led by Etubom Bassey Ndem, said: “We recognise that this will be a very challenging time for everyone, particularly the poor and elderly among us. For such persons, the stay-at- home order becomes a stark choice between COVID-19 and starvation.
“Axari Hotel has, therefore, decided to contribute its own token to support government efforts and those who will be hardest hit by this disruption.
“Food items to be distributed include rice, garri and noodles, among others. The quantity in each pack is calculated by our nutritionists to provide adequate calorific intake.
“It is being distributed to support staff members (minimum wage) who have been asked to stay at home; our daily paid construction workers whose source of daily income has been disrupted; invalid, sick or abandoned elderly persons in our immediate environment; invalid, sick or abandoned old people in our villages as identified by the welfare officers.”
Everight Healthcare Foundation also doled out foodstuff and other items to Dimagu community in Isiekenensi, Ideato South Local Government Area of Imo State.
At the occasion, Mr. Everest Okpara, the founder of the foundation and Everight Laboratory and Diagnostic Limited, said: “The main objective of the foundation is to assist the sick and the poor. We have been doing this for over five years.
“So far, we are gradually living up to our vision. We have handled costly surgeries to save lives. We have gone on medical outreaches, and educated communities on healthy living. We have partnered higher institutions, where we created awareness on protective and preventive health approaches, considering their active age bracket.”
Okpara said he was delighted that the intervention brought smiles to families that benefited from it.
On his part, the chairman of Uburu Peoples Assembly (UPA), Lagos, Mazi Francis Ogbonnaya Ekwe, aka Ogbo Transformer, mobilised his friends and associates to raise funds and materials for the vulnerable during the lockdown.
Ekwe said: “Life is meaningless if you watch the needy suffer without doing anything to ameliorate their suffering. So, despite our individual challenges, we provided the shoulder for some of the less fortunate ones to lean on and we will continue to do that by God’s grace.
“If your sister or neighbour is suffering and you are in a position to help him or her, you don’t have any excuse not to help them. The Good Book encourages us to love our neighbours as we love ourselves.”
However, Mr. Allen Onyema, CEO of Air Peace Airline, took patriotism to a new level at the peak of the pandemic.
Onyema volunteered his aircraft to fly in Chinese ‘doctors’ with their COVID-19 aid to Nigeria. History was made as it became the first time in the Nigeria’s aviation industry that a passenger flight would take off in Nigeria and land in China. And it returned directly to Nigeria without a stopover.
This came a few months after he evacuated Nigerians free of charge from South Africa during the resurgence of xenophobia.
Unfortunately, when it was time for business, Onyema’s airline was sidelined. The government started negotiating with Ethiopian Airlines to evacuate Nigerians trapped in other countries.
Indeed, the humanity in Nigerians flowed freely when it mattered most, as the rich and the not-so-rich donated cash and palliatives to cushion the adverse effects of the pandemic.
However, there are allegations that the palliatives provided by government were not properly distributed or were hoarded. It is also alleged that cash donations are being mismanaged.
Obstetricians and gynaecologists have noted that the lockdown has resulted in many unplanned pregnancies. They said that women have not been seeking family planning services because they are afraid that they could be infected with COVID-19 in hospitals.
Maternity and child expert, Dr. Akinde Joseph, told a newspaper: “There will be baby boom in the next seven or eight months because couples have been together during the lockdown.
“There will be an explosion of babies that are being born because women are no longer accessing family planning services and they were locked down with their husbands for more than six weeks.
“This has a lot of implications for maternal health. I won’t be surprised to see an increase in the number of unsafe abortions. There will be an increase in maternal deaths also.”
It was also gathered that contraceptives were in short supply because of the pandemic.
Working with bare hands
Again, Nigerian doctors and other health workers distinguished themselves, even as they worked with bare hands.
Limited population coverage in terms of testing was a minus in the war against COVID-19. In fact, months after government announced social distancing and lockdown, only a fraction of the populace has been tested yet it is claimed that humongous sums have been spent.
There were also inadequate bed spaces across the country and personal protective equipment (PEP) for doctors and other health workers in the frontline of the coronavirus outbreak. Some of them have paid the supreme price.
Healthcare system without human face
Some patients lost their lives because they were rejected by hospitals on suspicion of being infected with coronavirus. For instance, 63-year-old Emmanuel Iwelumo, who was hypertensive and diabetic, was allegedly shabbily treated at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, the Infectious Disease Hospital, Yaba, Federal Medical Centre, Ebute Meta, and Military Hospital, Yaba, on the suspicion that he had the virus. And the man died in April.
According to his daughter, Nenelyn, when the COVID-19 result came out after her father’s death, it was negative.
“Denying someone with an underlying medical condition treatment is like committing murder,” she said.
It was the same treatment for 61-year-old engineer, Obiefula Anya, who died of pneumonia on May 14 after he was allegedly rejected by eight hospitals in Lagos because they suspected that he had COVID-19. Anya’s only child, Grace, described her family’s experience at the hospital as “most pitiable and regrettable.”
There are also allegations that tribe and religion have become issues of consideration in the treatment of sick people.
Meanwhile, Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, has condemned the rejection of patients by some hospitals, saying it is unethical.
He said: “It is unethical to reject patients who come to the hospital for treatment; such offenders should be reported. I also urge citizens to go to the hospitals when not feeling well, and to cooperate with medical personnel by giving accurate information, especially with regard to their travel history.”
Domestic and sexual violence
Experts in domestic and sexual violence volunteered that the vices increased during the coronavirus lockdown.
The coordinator of the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response (LSDSVR), Titiola Vivour-Adeniyi, said: “They (victims) are literally walking on eggshells because they don’t know how their partner is going to react during this period. People need escape routes and now they’re stuck.
“We’ve had to secure the services of law enforcement and then to evacuate them from the abusive environment, and, in certain instances, we’ve been successful in removing the alleged perpetrator, the abuser, from the home.”
According to the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammad Adamu, 717 rape cases were reported in five months while 631 cases had been concluded. It was learnt that Anambra State recorded no fewer than 80 rape cases between April and May.
According to the director of Child Welfare Services, Anambra State Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Children and Social Welfare, Mrs. Nkechi Anazodo, “sexual violence has become the order of the day, especially during this period of lockdown.”
“The most worrisome is that some fathers raped their daughters more during the lockdown. In most cases, fathers who rape their daughters threaten to kill them if they report. The problem, therefore, is that many people don’t report these cases because they feel that the victim might be stigmatized,” she said.
There was unprecedented nocturnal migration from the north to the south, particularly the South East, in flagrant contravention of a presidential directive against interstate travel, which was a strategy to control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. The boundary patrols put in place by state governments sabotaged the efforts of government. The operatives turned their assignment into a big business as they collected toll from commuters and allowed them to move. By their disposition, the security agents did not care a hoot about the safety of their countrymen and women.
In particular, those manning the barricade erected by Governor Nyesom Wike at Oyigbo boundary made a kill as they collected N500 from each bus. The situation was such that the Defence Headquarters raised the alarm that bandits could be moving around the country.
Merchants of death
Commercial bus drivers and their conductors were alleged to be aiding the spread of COVID-19. According to the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, bus drivers and their conductors were aiding the spread of the disease by sharing face masks to passengers who don’t have and also retrieving it when they alight only to give same to another set of passengers. And the circle continues.
“Anyone arrested in the act would not be spared. The driver would be prosecuted along with his conductor while the vehicles would be impounded,” Odumosu threatened, but he was talking to the marines as the drivers and conductors carried on.
Commercial vehicle operators capitalised on the restrictions to milk commuters, as they were made to pay outrageous fares.
Thousands of lockdown violators across the country were arrested and punished. Many vehicles were also impounded.
This and that
All manner of theories have been dished out regarding COVID-19. Some are ridiculous, others are simply stupid. It is the same story from the Atlantic coastline to the fringe of the Sahara.
Simon Kolawale wrote: “One of the most frustrating sights for me in this COVID-19 season is seeing Nigerians live recklessly as if they had immunity. Many people go around without face marks; some use the face masks as chin guard; and social distancing means nothing to many. Of course, these behaviours are based on some beliefs. Some say there is no coronavirus in Nigeria, that government only wants to embezzle funds; some say there is COVID-19, but it is highly exaggerated; and some think it is only the high and the mighty that it infects. Any wonder that infections are on the rise? It’s become apparent that the only saving grace now is a vaccine – although some won’t take it because of Bill Gates. Trouble.”
Although the date of reopening of schools in Lagos State has not been announced, some private primary and secondary schools in the state have ‘reopened’ under various guises. Some pupils attend school in mufti, some students are made to keep their school bags in the school. There are also those who operate outside the school premises in a bid to beat the law.