Since Kaduna recorded her index case of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on March 26, 2020, and subsequent total lockdown for 75 days, the way both the government and private businesses are run in the State has changed.
Going by the 2.5 percent annual population growth projection by the National Population Commission, Kaduna State has a population size of about 10 million people spread across it’s 23 local government areas and further grouped into three senatorial zones (eight in the North, seven in the Central and eight in the South). Kaduna is the political headquarters of Northern Nigeria there prone to the influx of people from across the country.
It is true that Kaduna was the first State to announce the closure of schools, places of worship, markets, hotels, secretariats and social gatherings, the development, the state considered best and cheapest option to reduce the spread of the virus as there was no testing centre in any part therein as at that time.
Since then, so many things have happened and a lot of individuals and corporate organisations have donated in kind and cash to support the State Government to acquire necessary medical equipment as well as food palliative to cushion the effect of the lockdown on poor and vulnerable homes.
While Kaduna residents stay at home, World Health Organisation (WHO) and the state government had strongly recommended frequent washing of hands with soap and running water for 20 seconds or using alcohol-based hand sanitiser (where water and soap not available), the social distancing of at least one metre, cough or sneeze on the elbow and effective use of face mask when one is with others.
As at July 31, the State has 1,403 laboratories confirmed cases, 250 on admission, 1,141 patients treated and discharged from isolation treatment centres (two in Kaduna, one in Zaria and one in Kafanchan) while 12 deaths so far recorded.
A gradual relaxation of the statewide lockdown imposed on March 26 after the index case was recorded in the State sets in, the ways government and private businesses are run have changed – notably with COVID-19 must practice guidelines such as the provision of running water and soap at the entrance of public places, compulsory use of face mask and limited hours of engagements. The major markets are still under lock and keys.
But, in the build-up to the gradual reopening of Kaduna economy, the State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai had through his Special Adviser on Media and Communication, Muyiwa Adekeye, announced 25 percent salary cut from those who earn N67,000 and above while political appointees contributed N500,000 each for the first month (April) in order to support the State government in providing succour to those that were badly affected by the lockdown in the State.
“If you combine all the civil servants in Kaduna State, including workers in the 23 local governments and all political appointees, we are not up to 100,000. But there are about 10 million people in the state,’’ he said.
‘’So, we decided that we that have an income, should sacrifice for this category of people who go out daily to earn a living, to enable government get funds to buy palliatives for them,’’ El-Rufai posited.
Yielding to several calls to reopen the State’s economy, the State Government had on Saturday, July 18, through the Permanent Secretary, the office of the Head of Service, Ibrahim Jere, directed its civil servants to report to work on Monday, July 20 after working from home for about three months with different category of workers to work in different days of the week, from 9 am to 3 pm.
Before then, small businesses and places if worship has been reviewed with compliance with safety guidelines.
That circular by the permanent secretary directed all permanent secretaries, directors-general, chief executives of agencies and parastatals as well as directors to work from Monday to Friday, officers on Grade Level 14 and above are to work on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, while officers on Grade Level seven to 13 are to work on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
The order, according to him, would be enforced by assigning staff officers to identify their staff at the entrance gate from 8.30 am to 9.30 am’ with strict adherence to COVID-19 prevention protocols.
Observations at difference MDAs saw fair compliance to COVID-19 protocols which include social distancing, temperature checks at the entrance of the MDAs, respiratory hygiene and hand washing.
Giving an update on the COVID-19 intervention in the State during an Open Government Partnership (OGP) health sector on Thursday, July 23, State’s Commissioner for Health, Dr Amina Mohammed-Baloni hinted that, State government approved N1.2 billion while the World Bank donated N100 million for the control of the disease.
She added that other donations were received from philanthropists to combat COVID-19, in the form of personal protective equipment, drugs, and consumables.
Checking the spread of the virus at the community level, a community leader at Sabon Sarki in Kachia local government area of the State, Chief Anthony Hassan, commended State government for the concerted efforts toward mitigating the spread of the virus in the State.
The traditional titleholder of Dokajen Jaba also commended citizens who comply to the suggested guidelines while calling on those who take things for granted to have a change of attitude because the virus is real and all hands must be in the deck to address it.
On Friday, July 24, the Executive Chairman of State”s Internal Revenue Service (KDIRS), Dr Zaid Abubakar, announced the extension of the deadline for the filing of 2019 tax returns earlier scheduled for June 1 to September 30.
The extension according to him, would cost the state about N300 million in revenues though was part of palliative measures to cushion the effect of COVID-19 on taxpayers majority of whom have not been transacting business for some time due to the lockdown.
As things began to take shape after the total lockdown with so many efforts put in place by stakeholders to respond photos COVID-19 in Kaduna, residents are expected to play their own role by adhering strictly to the suggested guidelines as the cheapest and surest ways to curb the spread of the virus at community levels more especially, as Kaduna-Abuja train shuttle resumed on Thursday, July 29.