Open Letter to Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje by CHRICED

His Excellency,

Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, OFR

Executive Governor, Kano State

Government House, State Road

Kano, Kano State

URGENT NEED FOR GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION TO PREVENT THE SPREAD OF CORONAVIRUS IN KANO STATE

Dear Governor Ganduje,

The Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civic Education (CHRICED) writes to draw your attention to the dangers inherent in citizens non-compliance to your government’s directives for the observance of social distancing to prevent or mitigate the spread of the dreaded COVID-19 in Kano State. Contrary to the directives handed down to citizens to desist from gathering in large numbers, we observed many citizens carrying on as if the preventative measures being talked about do not matter. Unfortunately, there is no visible effort on the part of the government to enforce its own orders and directives in this regard.

From our observations, large social gatherings including weddings, naming ceremonies, and congregational prayers have continued with active participation of some of your government’s key officials; and with no understanding of the disastrous consequences these could hold for public health in Kano State. Also, across many playgrounds, youths continue to engage in daily games of football, even though the rest of the world has put a stop to sporting activities due to the ravages caused by this COVID-19 pandemic. The transport services, particularly the tricycle (Keke) riders continue to violate the social distance order by overloading passengers. These trends portend very serious implications for public health and safety in Kano State, the most populous state in Nigeria, which could have a higher burden to cope with should preventive measures be undermined and allowed to fail.

CHRICED as a platform of active citizens campaigning for democratic, impactful and accountable governance has been monitoring the level of government readiness, citizen sensitization and extent of compliance to protocols and guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID-19. While we commend your government’s effort to mobilize both financial and material resources in readiness for containment efforts, we are concerned that these efforts could be easily undermined, if teeming numbers of citizens refuse to do the needful in terms of strictly following stay-at-home orders and social distancing directives.

From our close observation, it appears the vast majority of Kano citizens have dismissed the possibility of the COVID-19 outbreak in the State, and have merely taken the stay-at-home orders as an extended holiday by engaging in normal socializing, in defiance of laid down protocols. With multiple media reports recently indicating the death of a man who was in self-isolation in the Gwammaja area, the need for utmost vigilance cannot be over emphasized.

Dear Excellency Sir, while we do not pray for the spread of the virus in Kano State; going by the current indifferent attitude of citizens to social distancing directives, things could easily get out of hand should an outbreak happen. Notwithstanding your government’s efforts at ensuring readiness to combat the virus, all the hard work could be easily undermined if an outbreak is recorded, and a large number of infections become prevalent. This could overwhelm health facilities, and stretch the capacity of health workers on the frontlines.

From our observation, the citizen apathy and the unresponsive posture to the directives of the government, come from a combination of lack of awareness and misinformation. While many citizens we interviewed clearly do not understand the danger posed by COVID-19, how it is transmitted, and what to do to prevent it, others who have some information about it, get their knowledge from the wrong sources. Many citizens are depending on fake news sources, which make unverified claims that the disease cannot come to Kano. 

This information gap on COVID-19 needs to be urgently addressed using a comprehensive and robust communication strategy involving the government, civil society organizations, and community gatekeepers. Such sensitization campaign will help stimulate the interest of citizens and get them to focus on the clear and present danger posed by this dreadful COVID-19 pandemic.Consistent messaging using the whole of government, whole of society approach, would better prepare citizens to take the right steps to prevent, and if necessary, mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Kano.

With the help of extraordinary health workers in the frontline, and with the determination and commitment of your government, we believe that Kano State can be saved from the COVID-19 epidemic.

May Allah grant you the wisdom to take right decisions at this critical time of our national life.

Do accept the assurances of our highest regards,

Yours Sincerely,

Comrade Dr. Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi

Executive Director.

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