By Olalekan Bilesanmi
Frontline politician, Alhaji Buba Galadima, in this interview, speaks on mystery deaths in Kano State amid raging coronavirus pandemic.
What do you make of the mystery deaths in Kano amid raging coronavirus in the state?
The deaths are not new to me. However, it doesn’t matter the figure, whether it is a million or just one person, it is human life. We should never play politics with human life.
America can go to war when one American is treated unjustly. I have lost a teacher to these mystery deaths, Professor Jibril Ayagi taught me about 50 years ago. He taught me in 1971 at Ahmadu Bello University, ABU. And he was a godfather to my children.
Now, two of the children are doctors. He died in a circumstance that no one is able to explain. When there is a pattern of deaths like this, any responsible government, whether local, state or federal, must quickly move to investigate because the deaths have become so rampant; from morning to evening, they are burying corpses.
It means there is something beyond the ordinary. Almost two months back, I prayed to God that this issue of Covid-19 should not get to Kano, Maiduguri and Ibadan because of the population of these cities.
And, more importantly, because of the nonchalant attitude of our people. With the way we are, you can never say there is no part of this country that does not have the virus. If the tests are carried out in all the nooks and crannies of Nigeria, you will be surprised about the number of people that would test positive to the virus.
All the Kano government was going initially was to get money from the Federal Government. They didn’t envisage it would turn out this way and that is why I think the Federal Government should move in quickly, take over the responsibility from the state government because it is not every state governor that can act like Governor Sanwo-Olu in Lagos.
As we speak, there is no single NCDC office in Kano. And that is why you cannot really say who is actually infected. Health workers and those carrying the dead to the grave do so with their bare hands.
So, why won’t they be infected? My advice to the Federal Government about Kano State is this: Please don’t release money to anybody.
They should go and set up their centres there themselves and recruit people themselves. I have received information even from my house that when people call COVID-19 committee numbers given out by the state government, nobody picks.
You can see that the Covid-19 committee in Kano is selfish, nepotistic and it is set up for selfish purposes rather than for the generality of the people of the state. I also think the state government should be held responsible should this go further.
Is the death actually COVID-19 related as there have been arguments back and forth on the actual cause of the deaths?
I am not a medical doctor. I am an engineer. Therefore I can’t make an opinion on the issue of whether it is Covid-19 or malaria. But from the news we hear from other climes, Covid-19 always hides behind other underlying ailments.
Covid-19 only compounds such ailments. That is why I believe that the Federal Government should move in quickly to Kano. Why is the state government burying the dead quickly and hiding the number of the dead?
There is no test to confirm what killed them or the cause of death. They just rush to the cemetery to bury them. Also the state government isn’t doing enough sensitisation on this disease.
The clergy are there. Traditional rulers are there. They should make use of them. Let them spread the news of the virus to their followers. They should be in the forefront of the campaign against this virus because our people are yet to come to terms with this virus. Some don’t even believe it exists.
Somebody called me from a local government in Kano last Friday. When he called, I asked him if he was in his house, he said no. He was in the market. I reminded him of Covid-19. His reply was this disease was for the rich, that “we don’t believe it as it has nothing to do with us”.
I also asked if he went for Jumat prayer. He said of course that they just finished prayer and that it was after the prayer that he came to the market. He said even in the market, there were multitudes of people doing normal business because they believe the so-called Covid-19 was just propaganda.
I then asked him if the venue of the Jumat prayer was bigger than the Kaaba and the Prophet’s mosque in Medina, Saudi Arabia. He said “Haba, how can you compare these ones with those in Saudi Arabia?”
“Is your Imam who conducted the prayer more knowledgeable than the Imam in Kaaba and Medina?” He said no. I told him they closed both mosques in Kaaba and Medina because of the virus, “you think you are more Muslim than them? You think your mosque here is more recognised by God than the ones in Kaaba and Medina?” He said no.
So, I told him to forget about what the state government is saying. “The issue of Covid-19 is about self preservation. You are preserving yourself, not Ganduje, Buba Galadima or Buhari”. I reminded him that even in Rome where the Pope resides, he was virtually alone in the Basilica as everywhere was empty.
Can Nigerian Christians be more Catholic than the Pope? So, there are certain languages and styles people can use to convince other people. After I discussed with him for more than an hour, he went straight to his village because what I said really sank into him.
This article was first published: May 3rd, 2020.