By Rasheed Sobowale
Most people last year were looking forward to the 2020 New Year, catapulting some resolution they were unable to achieve with a determination and promise of commitment to see them through. Unknowingly for all, 2020 has a different plan for the world.
The year 2019 left a mark in the world such that will never be forgotten. If nothing at all, 2019 donated the world the “19” in the now most unpopular disease “COVID-19”, in decades
What started as a “new form of pneumonia” in China’s Hubei region and its provincial capital of Wuhan has resulted in the death of more than half a million people globally.
Nigeria recorded its first case of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on February 27.
With the de javu of the ebola virus in July 2014, the Nigerian medical personnel sprung into action, shoulder-high, this will be easily contained; just like the last time.
The Minister of Health, Professor Osagie Ehanire had said on February 27, prior to the first recorded case COVID-19 said that Lagos State, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, is well prepared and ready to contain the novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) infectious disease if eventually, it breaks out in Nigeria.
Also lending his voice to the assurance, the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi had said; “Since the experience we had with Ebola a few years ago, we have been building capacity, infrastructure, revising our policies and laws, training staff that are specially equipped to deal with an outbreak of infectious diseases like Ebola, Monkeypox, Lassa Fever and Coronavirus if it comes here.
“So, we are ready in Lagos; we have the facility, trained staff, and robust surveillance system in place to contain and effectively manage an outbreak,”
Talking of Ebola, Nigeria was declared Ebola-free, lesser than 3 months after the first case was recorded.
Announcing Nigeria is Ebola-free, the World Health Organisation said; “according to WHO recommendations, the end of an Ebola virus disease outbreak in a country can be declared once 42 days have passed and no new cases have been detected. The 42 days represents twice the maximum incubation period for Ebola (21 days). This 42-day period starts from the last day that any person in the country had contact with a confirmed or probable Ebola case.
“Today, 20 October, Nigeria reached that 42-day mark and is now considered free of Ebola transmission.
While comparing Ebola to COVID-19, Nigerian health practitioners forgot these diseases are analogous. Ebola virus outbreak originated in DR Congo while the coronavirus disease originated in China.
China is the second country with the highest GDP. In fact, it is number one, ahead of the United States, on PPP basis. The number of people travelling to China exceeds the number of foreigners DR Congo receives in many folds.
China, being a hotspot for world businesses, nations across the world had their cases exported along with businesses.
Since the affluent are the ones in constant touch with foreigners, during their travel or business transactions, the coronavirus became a disease of the affluent.
Nigerian politicians felt the impact of this disease more than the common Nigerian. As a matter of fact, some Nigerians still don’t believe coronavirus exists in the country.
In a poll conducted by Vanguard, 33 per cent of respondents claimed there is nothing like COVID-19 in Nigeria. A Vanguard reader, Sarah Mbah on Facebook said; “I think our government wants to get money from international bodies which they actually got and more from well-meaning Nigerians in tones of billions of naira.”
Even if they are faking it, the death of politicians related to coronavirus complications cannot be faked.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in March, less than one month after the first confirmed case in the country said: “States and treatment centres are primarily responsible for case management, with support and guidance from NCDC. These treatment centres are doing their best under difficult circumstances.
“The NCDC will not provide comment on the management of individual cases. We also ask the public to respect the privacy of individuals and families who are affected at this time.”
Subsequently, most COVID-19 cases that have been gaining media attention are either from an elite or a politician. Politicians have a larger share.
Governors who tested positive
At least, three governors tested positive for the coronavirus in March alone. The first among this is the executive governor of Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed.
Bauchi Governor, Bala Mohammed
The governor announced his recovery in April after two consecutive tests that declared him negative.
Alhamdulillah. I just received the green light. My second test for #COVID19 returned negative. I thank you all for your prayers & support even while I was in isolation. Most importantly, all the praises & thanks be to Allah – the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful. #GreaterBauchi
— Senator Bala A. Mohammed (@SenBalaMohammed) April 9, 2020
Reminiscing his encounter with the disease, Bala Mohammed said the fear of death to coronavirus was always on his mind after he tested positive to the disease and isolated because it has no definite cure or vaccine.
“I never had any manifestation of the symptoms all the period that I was there (in isolation), but I was under severe suspense that it might come any time,” he said.
Narrating his treatment journey, the governor said; “I was a COVID-19 patient; I told the world and I have been asked to say how I got cured and I told them how I got cured.
“I recommended that should be done to other patients too; I … used chloroquine, Zithromax, zinc, iron, and vitamin C to get cured.”
Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El Rufai
The Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El Rufai, in March tested positive for the coronavirus. The governor in the statement announcing his health status said the deputy governor will be chairing the COVID-19 Taskforce and will be issuing statements from time to time.
KADUNA UPDATE: Gov Nasir @elrufai has disclosed that he has tested positive for Covid-19. He is in self-isolation as required by the case management guidelines of the NCDC for a person that is not showing symptoms. pic.twitter.com/TLgqZrqF8z
— Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai (@elrufai) March 28, 2020
He announced his recovery in April via his Facebook page; “I am delighted to report today (Wednesday), that after nearly four weeks of observing a strict medical regime, I have now received the all-clear after two consecutive negative test results. I thank Almighty Allah for His grace and mercy. I also acknowledge with gratitude the massive outpouring of sympathy, prayers and public support that followed the disclosure of the infection.”
He also mandated the wearing of facemasks by all Kaduna residents during the announcement.
”I have issued another amendment to the Quarantine Regulations requiring everyone in the state to wear a face mask when going out of the home or workplace for any reason.”
Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde
Oyo State governor, Seyi Makinde announced he tested positive for the coronavirus on March 13.
In a statement via his twitter handle, Makinde said: “I just received my COVID-19 confirmation test result. It is POSITIVE. I am asymptomatic and will continue to self-isolate.”
He announced his recovery on April 6th, while thanking well-wishers for their prayers.
He tweeted: “I am deeply moved by your prayers and support throughout this period. I am so thankful. This evening, I received my second negative test result for COVID-19. I especially thank Prof Temitope Alonge, who acted in my stead as Head of the Oyo State COVID-19 Task Force”
Abia State governor, Okezie Ikpeazu
Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu tested positive for the coronavirus on June 4. Announcing the development on June 8, John Okiyi Kalu, the state’s commissioner for information said: “On Saturday, 30th May 2020, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu volunteered his sample for COVID-19 test and subsequently directed members of the state Executive Council (EXCO) and those of the inter-ministerial committee on COVID-19 to submit themselves for the same test.
“On Tuesday, 2nd June 2020, the result of Governor Ikpeazu’s test returned negative. On Thursday, 4th June, 2020, the Governor submitted another sample at NCDC laboratory for confirmation and the result returned positive.”
Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu
Just a day to the new month of June, the governor of Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu announced he has tested positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). According to him, According to him, he is “asymptomatic and not displaying any symptoms”.
Delta State Governor, Emmanuel Okowa
Lesser than 24 hours after the announcement by the Ondo State Governor, the Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, announced he and his wife has tested positive to the coronavirus.
“My wife and I have tested positive for COVID-19. We are well and continuing with our isolation/medication. We thank you all for your continued prayers for us and our daughter.”
This development was about five days after the governor disclosed that one of his daughters has tested positive for the virus and that himself and his wife will be self-isolating.
Okowa announced July 14 that he, along with his wife and daughter have recovered from COVID-19. Okowa in a thanksgiving tweet announcing the development also charged Deltans to obey all instructions and do all they can to stay safe from contracting the virus.
Other Politicians who have tested positive for COVID-19
Aside from the state governors, the coronavirus has also infected a considerable number of politicians.
Bauchi deputy governor, Senator Baba Tela
Bauchi deputy governor, Senator Baba Tela, was announced June 3, by the Senior Special Assistant on Media to Governor Bala Mohammed, Muhktar Gidado to have tested positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Gidado further explained that Senator Tela contracted the virus in the course of discharging his duty as the State Chairman, Task Force Committee on COVID Response of Bauchi State.
Chairman, Bauchi State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Rilwan Mohammed, on June 10 announced the Deputy Governor, Baba Tela, has recovered from coronavirus disease.
Yobe Lawmaker, Honourable Lawan Nguru
The representative of the Nguru central constituency at the Yobe House of Assembly, Lawan Nguru was reported May 6 to have tested positive for COVID-19.
In a statement announcing his health status, the lawmaker said; “Presently, I am in isolation centre and recuperating in a very stable condition waiting for further directives from Health officers.”
Honourable Lawan Inuwa was announced to have recovered and discharged from the State Specialists Hospital, Damaturu, the state capital, May 21.
Ex-Benue federal lawmaker, Mrs Rebecca Apedzan
Mrs Rebecca Apedzan, a Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, stalwart and former National Assembly member from Benue State, tested positive for the virus May 12.
Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, was in a meeting with her prior to the announcement of her virus status. “We were in a meeting together yesterday although we maintained social distancing. However, though I had done the test in the past which returned negative, I will have to go for another test. I urge all those who had contacts with her to also make themselves available for tests.”
Delta State Commissioner for Information, Charles Aniagwu
The news that the Delta State Commissioner for Information, Charles Aniagwu tested positive for the coronavirus was contained in a statement by the chief press secretary to the state’s governor, Olisa Ifeajika on the 21st of June.
He was consequently moved to an isolation centre and reported to be stable, and responding well to treatment.
Mr Charles Aniagwu shared his recovery experience on July 11 after he was discharged.
“Initially, I had thought that for somebody who has been in the centre of the sensitisation in the state, that I could just go for test to help deal with the issues of prejudices among the people on the reality of the pandemic and the measures.
“As at when I went for the test, I was not having any symptoms, but between the time I was tested and when the result came out, I lost my sense of smell.
“So, it became obvious that there was something wrong and 24 hours later, the test result came out and it turned out positive.
“I was instructed on what to do by the medical personnel; they were quite effective, the commissioner said.
Aniagwu added that the doctors, who were checking him and others, continued to ensure that they breathing freely.
Delta State Secretary to the State Government, Chiedu Ebie
The Chief Press Secretary to Delta Governor, on the 21st of June, revealed that the Secretary to the State Government, Chiedu Ebie has tested positive for the coronavirus.
He noted that Ebie mild symptoms of the virus and consequently subjected himself to the test.
Delta Government in July 12 said that the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mr Chiedu Ebie, had been discharged from the Isolation Centre in Asaba, where he was being treated for COVID-19.
Kano former Commissioners for Works, Engr. Muazu Magaji
The Kano State Commissioner for Works, Engr. Muazu Magaji who was sacked for celebrating the death of late Presidential Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari tested positive for COVID-19 on May 7.
Governor Abdullahi Ganduje had on April 18th sacked Muaz Magaji for making derogatory statements over the death of late Abba Kyari.
Makinde’s cabinet members
Governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde on June 28 confirmed that four members of his cabinet have tested for the coronavirus disease.
Osun SSG, Oyebamiji
The secretary to the Osun State Government, Wole Oyebamiji was announced to have tested positive for COVID-19 July 1st. A statement credited to the state Commissioner for Health, Rafiu Isamotu, confirmed the news.
On July 11, 2020, the Osun State Government on Saturday announced that its Secretary to State Government (SSG), Prince Wole Oyebamiji, has tested negative for COVID-19.
Benue Chief of Staff, Terwase Orbunde
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state, July 4 disclosed that aside from his wife and son, his Chief of Staff, Terwase Orbunde has tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Benue Head of Service, Veronica Onyeke
Mrs Onyeke, the first female Head of Service in the Benue. Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state, July 4 disclosed that aside from his wife and son, the state’s HOS has also tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19).
Benue SSG, Anthony Ijoho
Secretary to the State Government, SSG, in Benue, Anthony Ijoho, was also among the government officials announced by Ortom, July 4 to have tested positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Governor of Ekiti, Kayode Fayemi
The governor of Ekiti state, Kayode Fayemi on July 22 announced he has tested positive for COVID-19. He announced this on his official twitter handle @kfayemi.
Fayemi tweeted: “I took my third Covid-19 test yesterday and it came back positive.
“I’m generally ok and I’m already self- isolating at home and receiving the best of care from my medical team.”
Politicians who self-isolate
At least six governors have announced they are going into self-isolation, Most of them later tested positive for the virus and thus have been removed from this list. You may have read about their status on the governors that tested positive section above. Aside from them, some politicians also probably after contact with an infected person such as when the governor tests positive are advised to go into self-isolation.
Governor of Ekiti, Kayode Fayemi
On March 25, Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi went into isolation after contact with two persons that tested positive for the virus. He, however, did not mention their names.
“I just took a CoviD 19 test, having gone into self-isolation. I’m asymptomatic and feel well, but I was in meetings with two people who had since tested positive.
“I look forward to an all-clear and have encouraged all my colleagues to take the test,”
Fayemi on March 27 announced he tested negative for the virus.
“I just received my test result from NCDC and it is negative. Thanks to all for your concern. This, however, calls for continued vigilance on the part of everyone. Covid-19 is real and we cannot afford to be complacent,”
Governor of Nasarawa State, Sule Abdullahi
Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State had in March 26 said he would work from home.
Politicians who lost their lives
The former Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Abba Kyari lost his life to the coronavirus disease on April 17. According to report, Kyari contracted the disease during a one-week (March 7 to 14) working visit to Germany in the company with the minister of Power, Saleh Mamman to meet with officials of Siemens AG in pursuit of the deal Nigeria signed with the German energy company towards improving electricity supply in the country.
Mr Kyari’s health status was concealed from the general public for a long time. When the news was announced across the media, the president’s health status questioned. However, having come in contact with him, the president and vice president, Yemi Osinbajo tested for the disease.
A report on March 25 stated the president and vice president both tested negative for the virus.
Confirming the cause of Kyari’s death, the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof Akin Abayomi said; “Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Mallam Abba Kyari died from complications of Coronavirus, COVID-19 infection on Friday, April 17, 2020, in the State.
“Mallam Abba Kyari died from complications of Coronavirus infection at First Cardiology Consultants in Lagos.
“This hospital is a Lagos State designated high care, biosecurity-compliant, COVID-19 facility, accredited by the Health Facility Management and Accreditation Agency (HEFAMAA) of the Lagos State Ministry of Health. “As a basis for accreditation, First Cardiology Consultants established a separate specialist wing with staff dedicated to the treatment of complicated cases of COVID-19, under the supervision of the Lagos State COVID-19 emergency response team.”
A former governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi died from multiple organ failure facilitated by his COVID-19 infection on June 25.
Ajimobi, who was born on December 16, 1949, was on life support machine since last Friday at First Cardiology Hospital in Ikoyi, Lagos. Ajimobi who had COVID-19 related ailment was rushed thereafter he reportedly fell into a coma.
Elucidating the cause of his death, the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi said; “We regret the death of immediate past Governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajumobi, who passed on today, June 25, 2020, at First Cardiologist Consultant; a private COVID-19 approved care facility in Lagos State.
“The former Governor died from multiple organs failure following complications from COVID-19 infection.”
Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State June 5 disclosed that a state lawmaker died of COVID-19 in the state. As at that time, the governor said 705 samples were taken from the state to the Nigeria Centre of Disease Control, NCDC) for testing.
Ondo Commissioner for Health, Dr Wahab Adegbenro
The Ondo State Health Commissioner, Dr Wahab Adegbenro was reported dead July 2. Reports from government quarters said he died of COVID-19.
[This article will be updated in case of new development: Updated July 6th].