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COVID 19: Ibom Patriots writes SGF

...suggests proactive measures to contend the scourge



By Nseobong Umoidem

Ibom Patroits, a foremost body of eminent persons in Akwa Ibom State, have provided suggestions on more proactive measures to contend the novel COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria. The body made the suggestions via a Press Release addressed to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, who also doubles as the Chairman, Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.



The release which was jointly signed by the Chancellor, Obong Bassey Inuaeyen and the Secretary General, Rt. Hon. Useobong Akpabio with Chairmen from the three Senatorial Districts of Akwa Ibom State including: Dr. Okon Emah – Chairman Uyo Senatorial Districts, Arc. Okon Obot – Chairman Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District and Hon. Adasi Obolum – Chairman Eket Senatorial District; suggested that the apparent centralized operations by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and in particular, some functions of the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) should be decentralized, as dependence of States on NCDC for test results on the status of suspected patient/carrier, slows appropriate action/treatment and endangers not only the concerned life but others, who may contract it from unidentified contact.



The Patriots opined that the treatment of patients should not be shrouded under a cloudy atmosphere, adding that NCDC should be transparent on the process of treatment, as well as the drugs used for treatment, to enable Medical Doctors and other frontline healthcare practitioners to handle the scourge in their various health facilities without having to wait for NCDC. They harped on the need for Government to upgrade healthcare facilities, train and re-train medical personnel to meet the challenges of the time.



On public enlightenment and sensitization, Ibom Patriots averred: “Having seen the efforts so far made in public enlightenment and its impact, it is pertinent to advise that confronting a novel disease like COVID-19 in a nation with multi-ethnic groupings and varied local dialects/languages, requires far reaching ingenious approach than the centralized approach.”


“Fortunately, from our political exigencies and experience, during elections, all parts of Nigeria vis-à-vis States, Local Governments, Wards and Units are easily reached. Nigeria has 774 Local Government Councils and 8809 wards and if these channels are harnessed and directly involved, one can imagine the possible impact of enlightenment on the citizenry.”



“It is our considered view that Local Government Councils/Wards should form the channels to engage in a robust sensitization and awareness campaigns. Bulk SMS sent/distributed centrally by NCDC cannot be enough to enlighten the people. Also, the media of Television, Radio, Newspapers and Online are not sufficient to address the majority of rural dwellers who may not have access to these facilities and electricity. The truth therefore is that, majority of the people have not bought into prevailing enlightenment process. Public buy-in is key to success in this respect.”



“Through the community based approach, locals, indigenes and residents will get to see familiar faces and hear from voices of persons known to them and understood by them, to talk to them about the disease, using their local dialects/languages that they understand. This should be in addition to the existing channels of communication.”



“The Federal Government through PTF should fund this exercise down to the grassroots. The method will not only be effective and efficient but will be cheaper than the reported billions of naira spent for SMS and other advertorials since the outbreak of the pandemic.”


The foremost group of eminent persons in Akwa Ibom State called on the Federal Government to review the lockdown/restriction of movement, as it has posed hazardous effects on the economic life of the people.



“Lockdown/restriction of movement has to be reviewed and eased out totally or in phases. While it will be acknowledged that the exercise has helped to curb the spread of COVID-19; its adverse effects on the economy must not be ignored. Apart from affecting public and private enterprises, the lockdown has ruined the economic lives of persons who survive on daily income”, the people noted.



The Patriots applauded President Buhari for his foresight in the establishment of such a coordinating arm as the Presidential Task Force (PTF) in the management of COVID-19, through which some reasonable gains have so far been recorded in combating the novel pandemic in Nigeria and expressed hope that with all measures put in place, the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic shall be fought to a standstill in Nigeria.

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