Niger residents defy advice on COVID 19, worship in churches, others

By Ummi Ismaeel,

Niger State residents over the weekend defied the advice of the state government and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to restrict their movements as precautionary measures to check the spread of Corona Virus (COVID 19) in the state.

Though no case had been reported in the state, the state government through the Secretary to State Government and the Commissioner for Health, Alhaji Ibrahim Matane, and Dr. Muhammad Makun-Sidi, respectively, said that it wouldn’t want to take chances hence the procurement of equipment and trained personnel at the cost of N28.2 million to manage any eventualities.

But while the state government is thinking that it would be in the best interest for citizens to remain indoors, restrict their movements by avoiding crowded places like Mosques, Churches and markets, the people believed that the government has no answers to the disease hence their resolve to besiege places of worship to seek for divine intervention.

Our correspondent who went round town on Friday and Sunday to observe the level of compliance reports that the mosques and churches witnessed almost same capacity of usual worshippers with common belief that it is only God that has answers to COVID 19.

For a man who simply gave his name as Ahmadu, ‘‘Corona virus is what we cannot see except what the government tells us. So the only thing we can do is to pray and seek for Allah’s mercy and forgiveness so that he can take away the disease.’’
Rukkaya Abdulaziz and Deborah Ezekiel, both house wives in their response to restriction advice said that they had nothing to fear about corona virus first traced to a carrier, the Italian man, who, according to them, is fast recuperating and responding to treatment in far away Lagos.

Deborah said, “I just finished from the church to buy food condiments to prepare Sunday meal for the family. Corona virus is not yet anywhere near Niger State and the market as you can see is not crowded as in Lagos or the place where it originated. So why the panicking?

Ibrahim Kolo has entirely different views about the COVID 19, possibility of disease gaining grounds and spreading to all parts of the country and therefore described the so much noise as fast becoming another gimmick by politicians, some governors in particular to loot state treasuries.

“Experts have told us that corona virus can rarely thrive in hot temperate zones like Nigeria but it is surprising that states like Niger, far from Lagos, wasted no time in earmarking N28.2 million to manage a disease that has no likelihood of reaching the state”.

“Except they will create one to justify the huge amount they have approved on this, I don’t think it is necessary approving N28.2 million to curtail spread of a disease with no single carrier traced to Niger State yet since it was first reported in Lagos by an Italian migrant.

“What the state government should have simply do is to liaise with major stakeholders like transporters from entry points like Lagos where the first case was reported, provide them with kits and other screening facilities to ensure they don’t bring in carriers of the virus,” Kolo said.

“I had expected the government to simply monitor all entry points for visitors coming into the state after the two suspected cases; one from Lagos and the other, a Pakistani working in Zungeru died of tuberculosis and cardiac arrest respectively”.

Kolo also argued that, reports from China or Wuhan where the virus originated as at today shows that there are no new cases, the Italian migrant has recovered except the Minister of Health is not telling us the truth, why are states still spending huge sums acquiring sophisticated equipment for a disease that is fizzling out?

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