By Lesley Muosowo Otu
With the battle of words between the Kogi State government and the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), I recalled my years at the journalism institute many years ago.
I got to know about Afghanistanism when my lecturer told us that it is unwise to abandon reporting your local news only to give all attention to faraway incidences. And this might just be the case with a Kogi State and the NCDC.
The duo’s war of words started when the Director-General of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu had insinuated that States yet to record any case of Coronavirus are either hiding suspects or not following protocols.
It has led to the Executive Governor of Kogi State responding that his State will not manufacture cases even as a suspected political undertone to the outbreak.
Kogi State government had gone further to allege that there is an attempt to import the disease or declare fictitious cases in the State.
This allegation may not be unconnected with a scenario that played out in the State between an expatriate and the health officials
According to Mr Kingsley Fanwo, the State Commissioner of Information, the State COVID-19 management received a distress call from a female expatriate who feared that she might have contracted the disease.
He claimed that the committee promptly located her only to find out that her fears were misplaced.
Fanwo said that curiously, however, the lady still insisted on sending her samples to NCDC headquarters for testing.
This act the State government believed is a genuine suspicion of the motive behind her insistence as the Governor has strongly suspected that there are attempts to import the disease or declare fictitious cases in the State.
Subsequently, NCDC sent its team on a visit to Kogi State led by Dr. Noah Andrew, NCDC. Thereafter, another team was sent to the State which would amongst other things, build capacity, support in taking samples and strengthen integrated measures, and provides feedback and also address identified gaps.
However, on reaching Kogi State, Governor Yahaya Bello insisted on their being tested and quarantine for 14 days. And if they are COVID-19 free, then the NCDC officials would be allowed to carry on with their job in the State.
This did not go down well with the officials of NCDC who refused either to be tested or quarantine but rather chose to return to Abuja.
In his own assertion, the Executive Governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Bello has maintained that the COVID-19 free status of the State is the work of God and the diligence to hygienic practices of the people.
Bello had at the same time introduced life insurance policy and an increase in hazard allowances for the medical and health workers in frontline battle with COVID-19
He has also called for the demystifying of COVID-19 while demanding for efforts towards improving the wellbeing of the people.
Now to the big question? Why is the NCDC finding it difficult to come to terms with the fact that a State could be free of COVID-19?
Or is there an undertone to the whole brouhaha with their chasing shadows while the real issues are staring on them?
This writer is a typical victim of NCDC’s hypocrisy where they make all the noise about testing thousands per day but on actual sense, they do little to receive a good pat on the back.
As a journalist who is at the forefront of news reporting, I know the high risk of possibly contracting the disease even when I took all the necessary precautions.
So when I came down with a fever that lingered for more than it should be, and taken all prescribed medications, I felt the need to do a COVID-19 test especially with other suspected symptoms like headache, chest pain, stiffness, and restlessness.
I then decided to put a call across to NCDC. After trying several numbers as displayed on different platforms, I was fortunate to get just one who responded and then gave me another number to call the operators at the sample collection center.
This I did for the whole day, yet both numbers rang ceaselessly without any response.
In frustration, I have to send a message to all their numbers and that of the FCT COVID-19 Emergency Response hotlines, yet I never got a reply.
And when this issue of NCDC with Kogi State came up, I then remembered the “Afghanistanism” lecture. It is a situation where you abandon the problems at your doorsteps to go looking for how to solve an unsolicited distant problem, as the case with America.
If Kogi State has not cried out to NCDC or the Federal Government, then let them be. Is it wrong for people to repose their trust in God?
In the end, it is still God alone that will help the whole global human entity to contend and defeat this dreaded COVID-19 pestilence.