By Elizabeth Chukwuma
When Aminu Masari, a former Speaker of House of Representatives and now governor of Katsina, home state of President Muhammadu Buhari, ordered Civil Servants to resume work last week, there was palpable fear that he has opened up the state for Coronavirus disease, popular, COVID 19, named after the year it emerged in the Wuhan Town of China and reported to the World to the World Health Organisation, WHO, to spread across the state.
This is because of the several illegal routes that illegal immigrants from the neighbouring Niger in the West African sub -region, which already have confirmed 609 victims of the deadly disease as at Friday April 17, 2020, compared to Nigeria’s figure of 442 cases could penetrate the state without interruption. The governor who believes that the return of the Civil servants to work in the state would it to economic normalcy may have been disappointed for relaxing the lockdown in the state.
This is because of the Nigerian Center for Disease Control, NCDC, official revelation at the state COVID 19, Emergency Committee meeting to review the health crisis that a Coronavirus case had been confirmed at Dutsin-Ma town ,headquarters of Dutsin.Ma local government Area o. The COVID 19 meeting was said to have been attended by Security agencies personnel, Traditional and religious leaders.
The revelation by the NCDC, may have gripped with fear because of the number of people who may have contact with the victim in the local government . It is believed that the victim may have contacted the disease from Niger, described as the home of bandits, because of the frequent attacks on Communities in the local government area.
The worry of the governor , according to a security source was that he has exposed the state to COVID 19 which had put the health of the security agencies personnel in the state fighting to contain the activities of bandits including the Customs personnel running after the Contraband smugglers in the border Communities in the local government Area.
In anger he was said to have ordered a lock down of the local government from 7 am daily to fish out other suspected cases of the disease in the Council Area. He may have taken the decision to curb the spread of the deadly disease to other parts of the state. Indeed, security watchers would want him to extend the lockdown throughout all the local government areas in the state.
The question on the lips of most people was: why was Masari in a hurry to relax the lockdown in the state when the Katsina state born Nigerian President has extended by additional two weeks the lockdown of Lagos, Ogun and Abuja , the Federal Capital Territory , because of the increasing number of confirmed cases Coronavirus .
The governor may have realized his mistakes for bowing to pressure to order Civil servants to return to work in the state as he quickly took a cue from Babatunde Sanwo-Olu, the governor of Lagos state, described as the epicenter of the disease by medical experts to shut- down of the weekly border markets across the state. The affected weekly markets included Mai-adua, Mashi.Charanchi, Jibia,Dutsinma, Batsari, Kafur, Sheme and Dandume zango. Othes are Danja,Bakori, Kaita, Kagadama and Dankama.
He was said to have also suspended the weekly Friday Congrgational Prayers as well the Ramadam public Tafsir and Tarawiy Prayers at the Mosques and public places across the state to curb the spread of the disease. Many believe that if he had sustained the initial lockdown order as obtained in other states of the Federation the disease which does not recognize international boundary could not have spread to the Dutsinma Local government.
Political analysts believe that if the district heads and religious leaders in Dutsin ma local government Area had taken a cue from what Usman Kankra Bello, the Kanwan Katsina and the district head of Ketare in Kankara government Area of the state to take the sensitisation Campaign to curb the spread of the disease in his Community by Community, in order to monitor the movement of people in and out of the district , it would have been very difficult for a suspected Nigerien victim of the disease to penetrate local government Area, let alone have contact with any person without being identified quickly and taken to an Isolation center in the state.
Perhaps, to ensure that the restrictions of movement in the Dutsin ma local government and the shut- down of the border markets and other weekly activities in the state a was not flouted, an aggrieved Masari was said to have directed the security agencies personnel in including theCustoms and Nigerian Immigration Services , NIS, personnel to ensure strict Compliance with the restrictions of movement of persons coming into the state through all borders with Niger. This is bad news for the people of Maradi Province in Niger.
Recall that Zakari Oumoru, the governor of the Maradi Province had on several occasions hosted cross-border meetings which was said to have been attended by the governors of Katsina, Sokoto and Zamfara states to tackle cross border crimes, particular, banditry, kidnapping and cattle rustling.
But with the out break of the COVID 19 and the rising cases of the disease , in the West African countr, which is a threat to the north western geopolitical region Nigerian states, Oumoru, the governor of Maradi, may have to work more closely with the Nigerian governors to control the movement of Nigeriens into the states to curb the spread of the disease into Nigeria.
Going by the WHO updated records on Friday, April 17, 2020, no fewer than 2, 218, 590 people had contacted the disease which had spread to over 210 countries while 149 , had died as a result of the disease but 560,867 , was said to have recovered from it.
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