The Northern Governors Forum (NGF) is set to repatriate Almajiris (beggars) to their states of origin as means to contain spread of Coronavirus in the Northern region.
This is contained in a statement made available to Newsmen in Birnin Kebbi on Wednesday by Malam Yahaya Sarki, the Special Adviser to Gov. Abubakar Atiku-Bagudu of Kebbi State on Media, in Kebbi on Wednesday.
He said the governor disclosed this in Birnin Kebbi while interacting with the State Task Force on COVID-19 at the Kebbi Medical Centre, Kalgo.
The governor also said that the resolutions were reached at the meeting of the NGF in Kaduna on Tuesday.
He said that all the northern states had been mandated to take steps, to return Almajiri children to their states of origin.
This, he said, was part of concerted efforts by northern states governors, Federal Government and other stakeholders to further stem the tide of the raging global Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
He explained that some of the almijiri children from the state had since been returned to Kebbi from Kaduna State.
Bagudu said: “Some states have already started implementing this decision by taking back such almijiri children to their own states of origin.
“I do believe that all the states in the region will soon commence the repatriation and this is for the common good of the states and Nigeria, in general,” he said.
Bagudu also expressed happiness that Kebbi state had remained COVID-19 free and prayed that “Insha-Allah it will remain”.
He, however, pledged never to be complacent in the happy feat achieved by the state in its determined bid to curtail the menace of the pandemic.
Bagudu said efforts were on to collaborate with the management of the National Youths Service Corps (NYSC) scheme in the state to convert the orientation camp in Dakingari to an isolation centre as directed by the federal government.
He promised that the state would do what “is necessary” to improve the camp to serve as a befitting isolation centre.
Similarly, Bagudu said the Presidential Flood Committee had availed the Internally Displaced Persons Camp at Kalgo for the state to use as an isolation centre or quarantine facility in case the need arose for its use.
“This is in addition to the ones already designated by the Task Force on COVID-19 at Kalgo Medical Centre as Isolation camp and fully functional Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for COVID-19 victims.
“The task force has also identified and dedicated a ward at Federal Medical Centre, Birnin Kebbi, and Sir Yahaya Memorial Hospital also in Birnin Kebbi as additional facilities for COVID-19,” he said.
Bagudu also told the task force members that the federal government has pledged to ensure that testing was taking place in all the states of the federation in its efforts to combat the disease.
“It has taken steps to convert the ‘Gene’ machines which are used for tuberculosis and upgrade them for testing of Coronavirus.
“The Kebbi State Government has four Gene machines at Zuru, Kamba, Yauri and Argungu in addition to the one at Federal Medical Centre, Birnin Kebbi.
“The federal government is engaging the manufacturers to upgrade the machines.
“I want to urge the task force members to take advantage of the Ramadan Fasting period to particularly engage religious leaders so that they can educate people on the necessary measures to take against COVID-19,” he stressed.
He said meeting with Islamic religious leaders had been ongoing to look into the possibility of sponsorship of Ramadan Tafsir (Sermon) on radio and television conducted by Ulamas.
This, he said, was in recognition of suspension of such Tafsir and Tarawi prayers in mosques, nationwide this Ramadan arising from the outbreak of Coronavirus .
The governor had earlier allowed for deliberations, where each member of the task force on COVID-19 expressed his feelings and shared experience on measures taken by government, challenges, obstacles and way forward.
The Commissioner for Health and the Chairman State Task Force on COVID-19, Mr Jafar Muhammed, enumerated some of the activities of the task force since inception.
He listied some of the activities to include sensitisation campaigns on COVID-19, designation of isolation centres at Kebbi Medical Centre, Kalgo, and Sir Yahaya Memorial Hospital, Birnin Kebbi.
Others, according to him, are meeting traditional leaders and religious leaders, leaders of trade unions, women and youth groups on advocacy for personal hygiene, social distancing and environmental cleanliness.
Other measures included training of health staff on safety measures to themselves and patients, and appointment of surveillance health officers in all the 21 local government areas of the state, he said.
The task force chairman also mentioned some of the challenges facing the committee to include coping with large number of people coming into the state and trying to get people get use to social distancing, among others.
The meeting was held at the Kebbi Medical Centre, Kalgo, and attended by the state Deputy Governor, Alhaji Samaila Yombe Dabai; the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Babale Umar Yauri, and members of the task force responsible for controlling COVID-19 pandemic, among other stakeholders.
The governor was later conducted round the facility by the team and Chief Medical Director (CMD) of the hospital, Dr Abubakar Koko.
Bagudu thanked members of the task force for their dogged determination in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic in the state.
He also thanked all donors, the media and security for their collective support and hard work as well as members of the public for their understanding and prayers.