Proprietors attack Northern govs over mass repatriation of almajirai [Nation]

  • Say embattled children not responsible for COVID-19 pandemic

The ongoing repatriation of almajirai to their states of origin by some Northern governors has not gone down well with several stakeholders who believe the governors are getting the concept of almajiri wrong.

The governors blame much of the street begging in their states on the almajiri system.

Many of the repatriated almajirai, especially those from Kano State, have been diagnosed with COVID-19 on arriving their states of origin.

But reacting to the actions of the governors, stakeholders, who are mainly proprietors of Quranic schools, said the actions of the governors were doing more harm to the North and its children than the good the governments thought they were doing.

Malam Sanusi Umar, an Almajiri teacher in Kaduna, described the repatriation of the almajirai as a massive damage to the age-long tradition of seeking Islamic knowledge.

Many of his students were evacuated by the state government.

Umar said: “This thing they (governors) are doing is not good at all. They are destroying the over one century old tradition of pursuing Islamic knowledge.

“In fact, some of the governors passed through the same system.

“There is foundation for this system in the Sunnah (sayings) of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). The Prophet commanded every Muslim to go and seek knowledge, even as far as China.

“So, the children you see do come from far away in other states to learn about Islam here. Others used to go from here to other places too.

“I feel bad because the government that is evacuating these boys and repatriating them has not provided alternative on how they are going to be given Islamic knowledge desired for them by their parents.

“For me, I would not have had any problem with the development if the government was ready to integrate the almajiri schools into the basic education system.

“The previous government under President Goodluck Jonathan made a move by establishing pilot almajiri boarding schools, but the governors at the state level did not complement that effort.

“Even the ones established by the Federal Government have since collapsed.”

Umar said the evacuation of his students has not affected him in any way except that he is concerned about the future of the children, some of whom he said have potentials to become Islamic scholars.

He added: “My appeal to the governors, if they are as concerned as I am about the future of these children, is that they should have at least 10 specialised schools for almajirai in each state.

“They should start with the ones repatriated to their states, enroll them, then employ Islamic teachers to give them the knowledge they were getting from Almajiri schools and employ teachers to give them conventional education.”

Another almajiri school proprietor, Malam Mukhtari Abdullahi, wondered why the governors did not engage the almajiri school proprietors in dialogue before clamping down on their students.

He said the evacuation and repatriation of the Almajiri children is not the solution to street begging, as it is not only the almajirai that beg on the streets.

He said: “To me, Islamic education is very important, especially in Northern Nigeria, and the government would have realised now with the number of almajirai repatriated across the states. So, the earlier the government takes action on this, the better for all.

“The reason the Almajiri children go out to beg for alms is because we, as teachers, and the parents cannot afford to cater for them.

“Therefore, the government should come in and support the almajiri system, rebuild our facilities and, if need be, upgrade them by bringing in teachers to teach the children conventional education.”

Yola-based Quranic school teacher, Malam Ismail Abu, said teaching almajirai is more than impacting knowledge.

“I get used to these children so much that I feel sad each time they have to go upon finishing what brought them here,” he said, explaining that getting many of them to leave at a time  always deals a huge psychological blow on him.

“It’s difficult already. It’s going to be really bad when all of them are gone if the government continues with its plan to send all of them to their home states,” he said.

Almajiria did not import Covid-19 to Nigeria, says Bauchi proprietor

The proprietor of an almajiri school in Bauchi State, Dr. Mohammed  Mujtaba, also  faulted the repatriation of almajirai following the outbreak of coronavirus in the country.

“This is not the right time to deport almajiria,” he told The Nation in Bauchi.

“Relocating them to their home states has contributed to the spread of the coronavirus. It was a right decision taking at a wrong time. They should stop deporting them.

‘’The deportation will surely affect their livelihood. Some of these almajirai are not beggars; they have menial jobs they engage themselves in.

‘’We the proprietors of sangayya schools wrote a letter to the National Assembly for public hearing but we were waiting to get a response when the northern governors took this hasty decision without consulting stakeholders.

“Come to think of it, it was not the almajirai that brought the coronavirus into the country but our leaders. So why should they be deported? Is there any provision for them by the government?

“We at sangiyya schools are not putting out almajirai to be beggars on the streets. We make provisions for them without collecting a dime in terms of tuition fees.”

In a separate interview, the proprietor of another sangayya school in the state, Dr. Muhammad Safiyyu, said: “This traditional Qur’anic system is an ancient one which has been in northern Nigeria for more than eight centuries.

“The teachers in these schools have always been the financiers of the system. They give their students education free of charge and spend money on feeding them, provide them with free accommodation as well as using their rooms for free education and providing them with the necessary medical treatment.

‘’The almajirai have chosen for themselves their means livelihood under the Qur’anic learning system.

“Their desire deserves the appreciation of the government as well as the students of the western education system, and if the government takes care of the western education system, it must also appreciate and respect the traditional Qur’anic system.”

But the Yobe State Government is handling the almajiri system differently. It is not repatriating anyone.

 

Worship centres: Buhari, govs strike five-point deal [Nation]

  • Attendance in mosques, churches restricted to 50 persons …as govs reach out to NSCIA, CAN, SGF

There were indications on Friday that President Muhammadu Buhari and state governors reached a five-point agreement on containing the coronavirus disease while easing the lockdown nationwide.

It was learnt that the deal addressed the apprehension of some governors on the observance of Sallah prayers and reopening of worship centres.

A major thrust of the agreement is that gatherings in mosques or churches and the observance of Eid-el-Fitr prayers will not exceed 50 people at a time.

Muslims are also not expected to go to any praying ground but they can use a neighbourhood mosque with only 50 worshippers.

It was gathered that the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Dr. Kayode Fayemi, also had talks with the President of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Sultan Sa’ad Abubakar, and the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Supo Ayokunle, on the understanding reached with the President.

The NGF chairman was also said to have had discussions with the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha.

Speaking with our correspondent, Fayemi said the governors held a National Economic Council (NEC) meeting on Thursday and that their position on public gathering had not changed, adding that no governor would go against the agenda.

According to findings, the governors proposed a five-point agenda concerning the management of the eased lockdown, which the President endorsed.

The agreement is applicable to all Nigerians, including Muslims and Christians.

Findings revealed that at the NEC session on Thursday, the governors were advised to stick to the agreement reached with the President,

A North-West governor said: “We do not know where all the noise is coming from as if governors are heady and out to frustrate the management of COVID-19.

“In easing the lockdown, we presented a five-point agenda to the President, namely restriction on inter-state movements; internal relaxation of stay-at-home order within a time frame; compulsory wearing of masks; and public gathering, be it social, political or religious, not exceeding 50.

“The fifth clause in the agreement is that we must increase testing so that we can be more accurate.”

Another governor said: “The NGF chairman has had robust discussions with the President of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Sultan Sa’ad Abubakar, and the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Supo Ayokunle, on the pact with the President.

“We therefore got the buy in of NSCIA and CAN on how we want to go about the easing of the lockdown.

“We were briefed at our meeting on how the NGF leadership consulted the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and other stakeholders on our agenda to ease the lockdown, especially as it concerns worship centres.

“We have got to a stage where we need to lay the cards on the table to show that governors have been mutually consultative.

“What is causing the apprehension nationwide is the fear that governors may not be able to manage the situation if they unlock worship centres or during Eid-el Fitr celebration.

“So far, we have spoken to ourselves and reached a consensus that we will abide by the agreement.

“We even consented to a clause that nobody should come to the Eid praying ground, central mosque. Instead, Muslims are expected to use neighbourhood mosques if they cannot stay at home.”

On the alleged recalcitrant posture of some governors, the source added: “I think some of them are being pushed by either some Ulamas or some politicians for electoral purpose.

“We are however hopeful that no one will violate the five-point agenda.”

When contacted, the Chairman of NGF, Dr. Kayode Fayemi said: “Our position on the five-point agenda we gave to the President has not changed.

“I think no governor will go against the agenda.”

 

Pregnant mother of one stabs lover to death [Nation]

…for allegedly impregnating another woman

             Says I pray he makes heaven

Hell, says William Shakespeare, has no fury like a woman scorned. That much was proven in the life of Mr. Anyakwo Mohammed whose lover stabbed to death for impregnating another woman.

In a sensational confession to the Nasarawa State Command of the Nigerian Securities and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), Veronica rendered an account of how she drove a knife into her husband’s chest during a quarrel, causing him to die before he could be rushed to the hospital.

Already, the NSCDC has vowed to charge her to court for murder.

Narrating the events that culminated in the fatal incident, Veronica said her late Mohammed refused her request that she should allow him to make a call with his phone, and the situation resulted in a heated argument.

She said:  “I was roasting a yam for him because he was very hungry, but a disagreement broke out in the process. I went inside the room to pick the knife with which I would peel the yam.

“As the quarrel continued, I told him that he would no longer eat from the yam and that he should go and eat at the place of the woman he impregnated.

“He got angry, stood up and held my hand in a bid to forcibly collect the knife from me so that he would peel the yam by himself.

“As we dragged the knife, its sharp end drove into his chest, causing a deep cut and serious bleeding.

“It was in the night, so before they could rush him to the hospital, he died.”

Expressing regrets over the incident, Veronica said she would not have picked a quarrel with her late husband if she had any inkling that it would result in his death.

“I would not have engaged in a quarrel with him if I knew,” she said. “I loved him so much even though he disappointed me.

“May God Almighty forgive all my sins and his shortcomings. I believe that God will take my husband to heaven to be with Him. May his gentle soul find peace.

“His death was not deliberate. I will forever miss him.

“I didn’t mean to kill him. I will continue to pray for his soul for the rest of my life.

“The only promise I will make is that nobody will ever take his place in my heart. I am two months pregnant for him, apart from the two-year-old daughter we already had. My prayer is that the unborn baby would be a male child so that I would name it after him as a mark of honour.

“It is clear to me now that I have made a big mistake by killing my husband and his spirit may hunt me for the rest of my life. But God knows it was not intentional. ”

The tragic incident, which occurred in the backwoods of Obene Ward in Keana Local Government Area, Nasarawa State, on April 28, 2020, saw everyone who heard or saw the gory details reeling in shock.

In her no-holds-barred confession at the state command of the NSCDC, 22-year-old Veronica blamed her husband for the tragic end to their marriage, which she claimed started on a good note before the irreconcilable disagreement set in, even though they were not legally married.

In an emotion laden voice during an interview with our correspondent, she recounted the fatal incident that led to her stabbing her husband to death.

“She explained that she was staying with her grandmother before she died and her uncle took her to Keana Local Government Area to live with him. It was during her stay with her uncle that she met her late husband who impregnated her outside of wedlock.

Veronica, a primary school dropout, said her late husband dated her for four years before he impregnated her with a promise that he would marry her if she converted to Islam.

She said:  “My parents who brought me to the world have humiliated, cheated and frustrated my entire life. If I knew early enough that the people I stayed with were not my biological parents, I would have run away from them.

“I was deceived and introduced to fake parents by my own blood sister.

“What a wicked world! My parents violated my human right and my late husband, Anyakwo Mohammed, who impregnated me without paying my bride price, deceived me.

“It was frustration and anger that pushed me into stabbing my late husband. Bringing in another lady with pregnancy worsened the situation.

“Since this incident occurred, I have been very unhappy. I called my husband’s brother who works with the Nasarawa Broadcasting Service (NBS) to plead on my behalf. I have sinned against them.

“My late husband’s brother said I should not worry; that it was how God wanted it, for there was nothing they could do to bring their late brother back to life.

“I am begging the Commandant of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) to forgive me and help me to get out of my predicament.

“I was arrested by the NSCDC. I am being neglected by my family members. Even the people I regard as my parents have also abandoned me to my fate.

“I regret my action. May his gentle soul rest in peace.

“I did not know that he would die. I had been having a misunderstanding with my late husband over a woman he impregnated and it led to constant quarrels and fighting. I got tired of it all.

“I returned from my ‘parents’ house and was told that Mohammed was with another lady whom he impregnated.

“When I asked him if the pregnancy was his, he refuted it. He said the lady was his girlfriend but the pregnancy was not his.

“We were staying together with the lady but she left us before the incident occurred.

“My late husband promised to marry me if I could change my religion. But when we started having constant quarrels, I was discouraged about it.”

She explained further that her late lover visited her people twice and bought them some items as an in-law.

She said:  “I have a two-year-old baby for him. The baby is in Lafia with my husband’s family. But shortly after we had the baby, I did not understand him again even though we were together.

“Our relationship broke down irretrievably with the damming discovery that he was sexually involved with another woman and had impregnated her and was even planning to bring her in, all because I refused to convert to Islam.”

 

Sanwo-Olu moves to reopen Lagos economy [Sun]

■Says we’ve sacrificed our IGR to prevent job loss

Lagos State government has set in motion the process of re-opening its economy, with the rollout of register-to-open guidelines. Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said the state government daily battles the reality of balancing reactivation of economic activities and the continuation of the state’s response to contain the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The governor said the battle to stop the ravaging virus in Lagos had subjected the state to a delicate situation of having to manage hunger resulting from weeks of slowdown in economic activities and also the movement of consumer goods to keep the economy afloat.

He said the four-page register-to-open guidelines were the major part of the measures initiated to achieve phased re-opening of the state economy, adding that government had offered incentives that will affect its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in order to prevent job loss in critical industries that provide employment for a large number of labour.

Sanwo-Olu disclosed this development while speaking at a webinar organised by First Securities Discount House (FSDH) Group, with the theme: “A Global Pandemic: Local Realities and Peculiarities – A View from the Frontlines”. The governor was a panelist in the online discussion that also featured governors of Kaduna and Edo states, Mallam Nasir el-Rufa’i and Godwin Obaseki.

The webinar had about 1,200 people who participated from across the globe.

Sanwo-Olu said the state government remained committed to tackling COVID-19 and breaking the cycle of its transmission, but added that there was need to address hunger and job loss that could arise from prolonged lockdown of the economy.

The governor, however, maintained that the re-opening would not be done in haste, but said construction and manufacturing sectors would be accorded high priority for full re-opening, given the large number of employment they generate. He added that entertainment, hospitality and aviation industries would be considered in the second phase of intervention.

Sanwo-Olu said the weeks of inertia in the economy also had significant impact on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), stressing that millions of small-scale businesses operating in the State could completely fold up if the economy is not fully reactivated.

In addition to granting three-month moratorium to MSMEs that applied for loan facilities at the Lagos State Employment Trust Funds (LSETF), Sanwo-Olu said the state government had started to compile data of registered MSMEs in the state for operational support that would cushion the effect of economic slowdown on their businesses.

Answering a question on the biggest consequence which COVID-19 had on the state economy, Sanwo-Olu said: “Lagos has been affected both on the healthcare and economy sides. We have had to take a deep dive into our budget and have about 25 per cent cut, which is not very good number for us. This is the time we need to continue to spend to stave off pressure on our citizens. However, we need to be prudent at this time and cut unimportant expenditures. Salary is one thing we cannot even touch.

“In terms of direct economy, entertainment industry, hospitality, land transportation and aviation businesses have been affected significantly. These sectors are large employers of labour. We are thinking through on how to reset these sectors in a graduated manner and bring back the economy on the full swing.”

 

Mass movement of Almajirai to south frightening -Afenifere leader Ayo Adebanjo [Sun]

Elder statesman, Chief Ayo Adebanjo has warned that politicians angling for 2023 elections are only raising hopes that cannot be realized, as there is not going to be any election by that time unless the country is restructured. In an interview with VINCENT KALU, the Afenifere leader also pointed out that COVID-19 has exposed the inadequacies of the nation. More importantly, he warned that the problem of almajiri could consume the country if urgent steps are not taken to take the youths off the streets and educate them. “Some of the governors are still dragging their feet, only El-Rufai has said, no going back on educating them, and that is one of the things that can help us so that everybody can stay safe anywhere in Nigeria. Intellectuals, who should talk straight, but because they want appointments they will be talking to be politically correct”, he stated.

What is your view on the state of the nation?

Very unfortunate, we are in a very bad state, and things are getting worse. We were in a bad state before the COVID-19 pandemic – the medical, education, infrastructure, etc, everything was in bad shape. So when coronavirus came, it worsened things; there was no foundation to pick up unlike in other countries. It is now we are trying to put things that ought to have been there. We are even lucky over the level of disaster we have got; it could have been even higher. It’s terrible.

The coronavirus came to expose our nakedness, we only have to thank God for how He is saving us because where are we going to begin when we have the square pegs in round holes just because the right people are not from your village or tribe. You are doing nepotism with impunity.

For the past months, years, all responsible people in this country have told him to restructure the country now, and he has not said a word, what type of leader is that or does it mean he is not hearing what people are saying and he is carrying on venially, he doesn’t care what people say.

But this decay didn’t start with the present government; it has been there and built up over time

I agree, but that is a very weak and insulting statement. Every government that goes there is supposed to improve on what is on the ground; he was voted into office to improve it. It was the corruption in the Jonathan government that made his election possible, but is corruption not worse now? When he chose Sylva, whose properties were seized because of corruption, he made him a minister and returned the properties. What do you call that?

No doubt he met something bad, and it was because of that he was put in there to correct it, but has he improved the situation, is it getting worse; is the country as divided as he met it? The country is now in tatters. What has he done to bring us together? Every time he is accused of doing things that are dividing the country, he has never come out to say, no, and assuring the citizens that it is a misconception.

When you tell him that his appointments were not based on federal character, as against the provisions of the constitution, he will say that he wants to work with those people that he knows. Is that what the constitution says? Why are you people not pointing these things out, I’m already at my grave. If Buhari changes or not, it is not my business, I’m already in the grave, your generation will be the one to suffer.

Look at this period of interstate restriction; the security people you put there flout it because you don’t also respect the constitution. We know the problem of the country, but we lack the political will to solve it, and those who can solve it are talking politically correct.

You talked about nepotism, but the president has appointed a Yoruba, as his chief of staff?

It is not like that; that is how people are deceived. Is Gambari a Northerner or a Yoruba? Have you not read about what people are writing about him?

But Agboola is a Yoruba name?

You follow what people have been writing about him, you follow, but don’t bring that thing again. Those are the inheritance of Afonja, the Yoruba man who sold Yoruba land to the Fulani people, and they are the people now ruling Ilorin; Is Ilorin not a Yoruba town where you have an emir? Don’t let us go into that at all.

The president has chosen that one because they are in the same category of oligarchy, of boosting domination. All the people who are from the West and from Ilorin claim to be northerners in other to gain promotion, and they put Agboola there to deceive us. Throughout his school career, he wasn’t known as Agboola, and he can’t speak Hausa. Have you read about his story during the Abacha regime, where he supported the killing of Ken Saro-Wiwa? He appoints people who are in the same school of thought with him. Those of us who know all these things, you hurt us when you begin to talk like this as if we don’t know. Until we restructure the country, we can’t make any progress because the man at the head is stubborn; he wants to rule us by force.

People are raising concerns over the movement of suspected Almajirai to the South, with some of them said to have tested positive to COVID-19, what is your position?

It is frightening. This is the age of confusion, have we not been talking about it? It is part of the foundation problem we have. Southerners have been talking about it, to get these people educated. Awo warned that if you don’t educate the children of the poor, they would not allow the children of the rich to enjoy life. That is what is happening now. It is what we saw very long ago and we have been talking about it.

Former Minister of Education, Prof Jibirl Aminu created Nomadic Education, and so much money invested, what was the outcome; how many of them got a certificate, the money went down the drain.

At that time, instead of concentrating on what El-Rufai is proposing on the Almajirai, they couldn’t do it at that time. Some of the governors are still dragging their feet, only El-Rufai has said, no going back on educating them, and that is one of the things that can help us so that everybody can stay safe anywhere in Nigeria. Intellectuals, who should talk straight, but because they want appointments they will be talking to be politically correct. Look at Tinubu defending the appointment of the man who was attacking others and defending the government at the UN.

When Amotekun issue came up, there was respite over the issue of herdsmen attacks, but recently the attacks seem to have been renewed in Southwest, has the security outfit gone to rest? Although I supported Amotekun, I have always been agitating for state police, which is an ingredient of restructuring, and autonomy. When you don’t know what you are fighting for then you are talking about all these things, which are the fallout of our not going federal. The moment you want to turn a federal system to a unitary system of government you will be having all these problems. The intellectuals and academics, who are supposed to know this, pretend and want to be politically correct.

What are your expectations for 2023 elections?

There is no 2023 until we restructure the country; I don’t believe in it, anybody talking of 2023 is just deceiving himself. If you restructure the country, you can do any election. If you do any election under this fraudulent constitution it is a fraudulent election. How can we continue to do election under this constitution, which when they rig you, they ask you to go to court, which is already controlled? We are not babies. When you are doing a thing and you are getting a bad result and you are still doing the same thing again you can’t get a different result – INEC under one man, EFCC under one man, Police under one man, DSS under one man, Army under one man, Judiciary under one man, because of this, they rig you and ask you to go to court.

We have to go back to the constitution we had at independence, I have ben saying it, but (Femi) Adesina and others have not been able to counter me. I ask, why is it difficult to go back to the constitution that Azikiwe, Bayero and Bello agreed to, is the president more educated, more enlightened and more Fulani than Sarduana? I have said it openly, Adesina and others have not replied to me that I was talking nonsense. The constitution we ask you to go back to is the constitution that our forefathers agreed at independence, and that is why we are having these problems.

We campaigned for Buhari in 2007, when he promised that he was going to do restructuring, and we have published it several times, he has not denied it. He promised to restructure with Pastor Tunde Bakare, he has not denied it, he promised restructuring under this government with All Progressives Congress ((APC), he has not denied it, have they done it?

 

Buhari strips govs of control over state legislature, judiciary [Sun]

■ Signs Executive Order on their financial autonomy

President Muhammadu Buhari has signed into law Executive Order No. 10 of 2020 for the implementation of financial autonomy of state legislature and judiciary.

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (AGF),  Abubakar Malami (SAN) who disclosed this in a statement said the exercise took place on Friday, adding that the action was in the exercise of the president’s constitutional duties.

The statement noted that “a presidential implementation committee was constituted to fashion out strategies and modalities for the implementation of financial autonomy for state legislature and judiciary in compliance with section 121(3) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as Amended); taking into consideration all other applicable laws, instruments, conventions and regulations, which provide for financial autonomy at the state tier of government.”

According to the minister, the implementation of financial autonomy of the state legislature and judiciary will strengthen the institutions at the state level and make them more independent and accountable in line with the tenets of democracy.

“The President signed the Executive Order number 10 into law  based on the power vested in him as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria under Section 5 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as Amended), which extends to the execution and maintenance of the Constitution, laws made by the National Assembly (including but not limited to Section 121(3) of the 1999 Constitution (as Amended), which guarantee financial autonomy of the State Legislature and State Judiciary.”

The order provides that “The Accountant-General of the Federation shall by this Order and such any other Orders, Regulations or Guidelines as may be issued by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, authorise the deduction from source in the course of Federation Accounts Allocation from the money allocated to any State of the Federation that fails to release allocation meant for the State Legislature and State Judiciary in line with the financial autonomy guaranteed by Section 121(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as Amended)”.

It added that “at the commencement of this Order for implementation of financial autonomy for State Legislature and State judiciary in line with section 121(3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as Amended), all States of the Federation shall include the allocations of the two Arms of Government in their Appropriation Laws.

“Article 6 (1) provides that notwithstanding the provisions of this Executive Order, in the first three years of its implementation, there shall be special extraordinary capital allocations for the Judiciary to undertake capital development of State Judiciary Complexes, High Court Complexes, Sharia Court of Appeal, Customary Court of Appeal and Court Complexes of other Courts befitting the status of a Court.”

 

Ondo, Borno, Edo, five others reject home treatment for COVID-19 patients [Punch]

Amid the rising number of cases and the refusal of some persons who test positive for COVID-19 to go  to isolation centres, many states have said they will continue to treat the infected patients at isolation centres rather than resort to home treatment option.

They noted that getting persons who had tested positive for the virus to the isolation centres remained one of their strategies to contain the spread of the deadly virus.

Lagos State had on Thursday said it was considering adopting home treatment option for patients with mild symptoms, noting that it would soon release the guidelines for the treatment option.

The state Commissioner for Health, Prof Akin Abayomi, said the decision to consider home treatment for some COVID-19 patients became necessary because some residents who tested positive for the COVID-19 refused to go to the state isolation centres and had been practising self-treatment in various places.

He said, “There are people who are already practising self/home isolation on their own, because we can’t find them. The (phone) numbers they give us may be false or they don’t answer their calls. When you go out to pick them at their residences, they would have absconded from their residences. So, they are isolating themselves in different places.

“In effect, the concept of home-isolation is being practised by many Nigerians even though it is not yet a state or national practice.

“The people of Lagos are practising home isolation which is one of the reasons why we as the government are trying to transition to home care because it is happening anyway, so we might as well regularise it and make it an official option.”

The commissioner said the state isolation centres were filled to 60 per cent capacity, adding that the centres had yet to fill up because as patients were being admitted, some were being discharged.

There were 245 new cases on Friday, pushing the total cases to 7,261, with 10 new deaths and 100 new persons discharged.

But in separate interviews with our correspondents on Friday, some states said they were not considering the option and they would rather make use of the isolation centres.

In Kwara State, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq and spokesperson for the state COVID-19 Technical committee, Rafiu Ajakaye, said the state government was not thinking of treating patients at home as it had sufficient bed spaces in its isolation centres.

He said apart from the 600-bed space at the Muslim Pilgrim Camp, another isolation centre had been established at the state General Hospital in Offa.

He said, “The possibility of treating COVID-19 patients at home does not arise in Kwara State at the moment and certainly not anytime soon. This is because the occupied spaces at the state’s isolation facilities are not even two per cent.

“The focus of the administration is to continue to flatten the curve of infection, including preventing community transmission of the virus, so that we never have to exhaust our bed spaces.”

Kwara State, as of Friday morning had 66 confirmed cases with 25 discharged and one death, while the results of 96 samples were being awaited.

In Katsina State, the state government also said it was not thinking of treating COVID-19 patients at home, adding that it currently had enough bed spaces in its isolation centres.

The state Commissioner for Information and chairman of the COVID-19 Enlightenment committee, Sirika Abdullahi, said, “No, we are not thinking of managing patients with COVID-19 at home. Our facilities can take care of them. We appeal to our people to shun large crowds, maintain social distancing, always wear face masks and ensure they frequently wash their hands with soap.”

Katsina has recorded 12 deaths from COVID-19 while the state now has over 300 cases of the pandemic.

Also in Ondo State, the Commissioner for Health, Dr Wahab Adegbenro, said the state had enough facilities to accommodate all its confirmed cases.

He added, “We already have a 300- bed capacity isolation centre, but we currently have 22 cases. One is dead and 15 have been discharged while we have six left in the isolation centre. So, treatment of patients at home is out of it and we are not praying for that to happen.”

In Borno State, the Commissioner for Information, Mallam Babakura Abba-Jatto, said it was not considering home treatment for COVID-19 patients so as not to take chances with the health of the people of the state.

He added, “For now, we have not reached that stage. The two centres in Maiduguri have yet to be full. We are not taking any chances.”

Also, the state Deputy Governor, Usman Kadafur, in a terse response to one of our correspondents enquiry, said the state had yet to reach the stage Lagos State was in.

In Gombe State, the Commissioner for Health, Dr Ahmed Gana, said the state was not considering home treatment at the moment unless there was an exponential increase in the number of cases. He noted that there were few cases in isolation centres and that over 91 had so far been discharged.

He said, “We are not contemplating home isolation at the moment because of the high tendency of non-compliance with the requirements by most people. However, this may change if there is an exponential escalation of the cases beyond the planned capacity.”

In Edo State, the Special Adviser to Governor Godwin Obaseki on Media and Communication Strategy, Mr Crusoe Osagie, said the state had no plan to treat mild cases of the novel virus at home because the isolation centres in the state could contain all its COVID-19 patients.

He said, “We are still able to accommodate most of our positive cases in the isolation centres that we have. We have a relatively large number of isolation wards relative to the number of patients we have. In Edo, our patients are still less than 150 at the moment and the isolation spaces we have are slightly above 500, which means we can comfortably admit at least 500 at a time in our isolation centres.”

He added that the state had holding centres for those with severe symptoms.

In Ekiti State, the Commissioner for Health, Dr Mojisola Yaya-Kolade, said on Friday that the state had not recorded any upsurge in COVID-19 cases that would warrant the adoption of home treatment option.

She stated that the state had so far recorded 20 active cases and only two fatalities, noting that the only challenge the state was facing had to do with people sneaking into the state.

She added, “As of now, we have four patients in our isolation centre and we have a 120-bed isolation centre in operation, so we have no compelling situation to start isolating suspected COVID-19 patients or those with mild symptoms at home.”

She said their findings had established that the patient who died in the state on Wednesday was not infected in the state but in Kwara State where she came from.

In Sokoto State, the Commissioner for Health, Dr Mohammed Inname, said he would only speak at the next briefing of the state task force, but a member of the task force told one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity that the state was not considering it.

“Our case has not got to that level and we are nowhere near the capacity of our isolation centres to be considering managing cases at home,” the source added.

Meanwhile, some states have said they are not averse to home treatment for patients with mild symptoms.

In Ogun State, the Commissioner for Health, Dr Tomi Coker, said the state had already commenced home treatment for COVID-19 patients. This, she said, was to stop people who test positive from absconding owing to stigmatisation and not because of bed space shortage.

In an interview with one of our correspondents, she, however, cautioned that the move was not to encourage patients to shun isolation centres.

She said, “Ogun State has started that already. We should, however, be careful about it. We are not saying going to the isolation centre is optional. I’m not encouraging people to stay at home, but if someone who tests positive insists they are not coming in, we just have to go to them and treat them so they don’t spread the virus.

“We have enough beds to treat people and with the option of home treatment, we will never run out of beds. Many people might run away after testing positive, so rather than run away, we treat them at home.”

In Osun State, the Commissioner for Health, Dr Rafiu Isamotu, said in advanced countries, only severe cases were treated in hospitals as he expressed hope that the state would not get to the stage of considering home treatment.

“We hope we won’t have reasons to consider house treatment in our state. Lagos may not have other options, because of the fast rate at which the disease is spreading,” Isamotu said.

In Kano State, the Coordinator of the Task Force Committee on COVID-19, Dr Tijjani Husain, said the state was looking critically at the national guidelines for home treatment before it would consider it.

“We are critically looking at the guidelines to see the possibility of treating the patients at home because each state has the liberty to implement the guidelines,” he added.

He however declined to state whether the state was facing a shortage of bed space.

The Director, Infections Control, Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital and Chairman, Risk Communication Committee on COVID-19, Prof Isah Abubakar, said recently that the state was targeting at least 5,000-bed spaces.

“In the next one month, Kano is targeting 5, 000 or more beds to be provided at isolation centres in view of the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in Kano State,” he added.

In Oyo State, the Incidents Manager for COVID-19, Dr Olabode Ladiipo, said the state task force would review the protocol for treatment of patients who test positive for the virus in view of the growing number of cases.

He said, “We are reviewing our protocol for admission now. We are looking at the situation in which we might have to check whether someone is symptomatic or not. If there are no symptoms and we look at the result and the viral load is not heavy, we can consider their home status if they have an ideal home for isolation. Then, we might be considering self-isolation.”

Ladiipo said contact tracing in the company where many staff members tested positive was ongoing, adding that the state was looking at the purchase of more testing kits and reagents owing to increase in cases.

Meanwhile, the Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr Chike Ihekweazu, had explained why the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 could not go ahead with home treatment of COVID-19 patients it once proposed.

He said, “We have struggled with these decisions in Nigeria because we are struggling with the realities of where we live and the contexts that we live in. We want to prevent transmission; therefore we want to institutionalise the treatment of everyone.

“We recognise that the circumstances that many Nigerians live in make home isolation difficult and sometimes an impossible option for many people who live in very tight accommodation in family groups and communities.”

Sanwo-Olu to meet PTF, seeks resumption of Lagos-Abuja flights

The Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has said the state government is trying to get the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to allow flights from Lagos to Abuja to operate, following the increasing impact of the closure of the airports on the state’s economy.

The governor lamented that the aviation industry as well as the entertainment, hospitality and transportation sectors had been “significantly” affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Federal Government on March 23 shut all international airports in the country before it later extended the closure to all airports in the country, banning all local and international flights.

Sanwo-Olu spoke as a panellist at a webinar hosted by FSDH Merchant Bank on Friday. The webinar, titled, ‘A global pandemic: local realities and peculiarities – a view from the frontlines’, was anchored by the Chairman, FSDH Holding Company, Mr Hakeem Belo-Osagie, and the bank’s Managing Director, Mrs Hamda Ambah.

Other panellists included the Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai; his Edo State counterpart, Godwin Obaseki; Senior lecturer and consultant, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Dr Alero Ann Roberts; Director, Centre for International Development, Harvard University, Prof Asim Ijaz Khwaja, and Assistant Professor, Harvard Business School, Dr Jaya Wen.

The governor said, “In terms of direct economy, I know that the entertainment industry has been affected badly. I know the hospitality industry has been affected greatly, especially as people could not go out. It affected those sectors badly. Transportation business and the aviation sector have been affected significantly and these are large employers of labour. We all know that Nollywood employs many people, so we are thinking through how to reset these economies very quickly, but in a very gradual manner.

“So, the aviation industry has been badly hit and just this (Friday) morning, I spoke with a major player in that industry and we are trying to get the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to see whether we are going to resume Lagos–Abuja flights before we get to other sectors. There has to be some gradual process in lifting the lockdown.

“We will continue to have engagements with all of the players down the value chain. At the right time when we see that the t’s have been crossed and the i’s have been dotted, we will do that and you can hold us to that.”

Meanwhile, El-Rufai explained that he had had to deploy senior government officials to oversee the borders to ensure the enforcement of the interstate lockdown imposed by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and upheld by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).

The governor said, “Virtually all of our cases came from Lagos or Abuja and in the last couple of weeks, most of the infections we had actually came from Kano. We just had a case in which one person that came from Kano infected 10 of his family members and that has some consequence on the entire community.

“So, reducing travels through advocacies, policing borders and enforcement has been a challenge. The security agencies have been compromising and we have had to deploy senior government officials; our commissioners and permanent secretaries now police our borders because the police just collect money and allow people to pass, which has been a major problem.”

In his contribution, Obaseki noted that the COVID-19 pandemic had exposed the inadequacies in the Nigerian system, noting that his state had also felt the impact of the largely criticised enforcement of the interstate lockdown by security agencies.

The governor said, “Edo State being a transportation hub that essential goods and services have to go through, we feel the full brunt of the unfortunate incidents on the highways leading to our state and it is an issue that has been with us for a while.

Edo discharges four patients, records 25 cases, one death

The Edo State Government also announced on Friday that four more patients were discharged after testing negative for the virus.

Obaseki in a statement added that there were 25 new cases and one death in the state stressing that government was doing its best to contain the spread of the virus.

Our subscribers have enjoyed two billion free SMS, says MTN

MTN Nigeria said on Friday that it provided more palliatives as part of its direct contributions to support the fight against COVID-19.

The CEO MTN Nigeria, Ferdi Moolman, said, “Since we began providing 300 free SMS’s per month to our subscribers more than two billion SMS have been sent by more than 44 million subscribers demonstrating the universal appeal and accessibility of SMS as a communications service. We are proud to have been able to reach so many people and committed to continuing to provide this service. As we continue to navigate this pandemic, we are focusing our efforts on trying to ensure no one is left behind.”

50% of COVID-19 deaths occurred at home, showed no symptoms – FG

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, has said the Federal Government discovered that 50 per cent of Nigerians who died from COVID-19 died in their homes and 50 per cent also did not show any symptoms of the disease.

Ehanire cautioned Nigerians to strictly observe the COVID-19 health regulations during Sallah, saying “wash your hands constantly with soap under running water and do not go to large gatherings.”

The minister  stated these in a statement  from the ministry on Friday.

The ministry’s Director of Information, Media and Public Relations, Eunice Akro, said, “Ehanire said that findings from the analysis of the deaths show that nearly half of them died at home.

“Of those who died at home, about 50 per cent did not show any symptoms. This underscores my earlier emphasis on the need for those who test positive to report for treatment.”

Benue index case: FG reviews COVID-19 discharge guidelines

Meanwhile, the National Hospital Abuja, on Friday said the Ministry of Health and Nigeria Centre for Disease Control had reviewed  the guidelines on discharge of asymptomatic COVID-19 patients in isolation for over 45 days.

This may not be unconnected to Mrs Susan Idoko-Okpe, who was isolated as  Benue State  index case for at least  58 days.

Idoko-Okpe, who arrived in Nigeria from the United Kingdom on March 22, took to social media to protest her testing positive for the COVID-19 results  leading  to her isolation at the Benue State Isolation Centre in Makurdi on March 27, and subsequently at the National Hospital.

But the NHA’s Deputy Director/Head of Department, Information and Protocol Management, Dr Tayo Haastrup, in a statement  explained that the new  guidelines on discharge allowed positive patients to go home.

The statement read in part, “Following the review of protocol for isolation with  the Federal Ministry of Health and   the NCDC, it was agreed that patients who remain asymptomatic beyond 45 days could be allowed home on self-isolation, and a repeat test could be done after five to 10 days to confirm if the patient has become negative.”

The last results given to Idoko-Okpe showed that she was still positive for COVID-19, but the health officials asked her to go, having met the requirements of the World Health Organisation.

Intensify surveillance, contact tracing, minister tells states

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, called on state governments to intensify efforts at surveillance and contact tracing, saying the nation’s testing capacity was currently being underutilised.

The minister said, “While our daily testing capacity is presently at 2,500, unfortunately, we are presently able to test less than 1,500.”

 

Eid-el-Fitr: Buhari backs Sultan, asks Muslims to pray at home [Punch]

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Friday barred government officials, political leaders, community heads, Muslim and Christian religious leaders and children from paying him Eid-el-Fitr homage at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The President said this was to prevent the spread of the raging COVID-19 pandemic.

He explained that his decision complied with the safety measures put in place in the Federal Capital Territory to guard against the spread of COVID-19.

Buhari, who said he would spend the period at his residence with his family, also cited the directive of the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, suspending Eid congregational prayers across the country, as well as measures introduced by the Presidential Task Force on COVID -19.

The President’s position was conveyed in a statement by his spokesman, Mr Garba Shehu.

It read, “With the Eid-el-Fitr celebrations around the corner and the month-long Ramadan fast coming to an end, President Muhammadu Buhari will be conducting his Eid prayers with his family at home.

“This is in observance of the lockdown measures in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, put in place ‘to save lives and protect people from all dangers.’

“This is also in line with the directive of the Sultan of Sokoto and President General of the Jama’atu Nasril Islam, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, suspending Eid congregational prayers across the country as well as the protocol against mass gathering issued by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.

“Further to this, the President, who has traditionally shared the joyous moment with top government officials, political leaders, community heads, Muslim and Christian religious leaders and children, will not be receiving this homage in a bid to stop the coronavirus from further spreading.”

Meanwhile, the Federal Capital Territory Administration has urged residents, especially the Muslim faithful to observe the Eid-el Fitr prayers at home.

A statement by the Chief Press Secretary, Anthony Ogunleye, said ‘this year’s Eid-el Fitr prayers would  not hold on Eid-grounds across the FCT.”

That statement said, “This is in tandem with the guidelines, issued by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, that all places of worship in the FCT and other high risk states of the federation should remain closed during the recently extended period of lockdown.

“In order to achieve this objective of enforcing these guidelines in the FCT, meetings were held earlier between the administration and leaders of the Christian Association of Nigeria and the League of FCT Imams.

“The meeting acknowledged that the primary concern of all leaders and public officials was to save lives.

“In view of this common goal, the leaders of the religious organisations have agreed to work towards the eventual opening up of worship places at a time to be determined by the Presidential Task Force, based on medical advice.”

 

APC NWC can’t decide Edo primary mode, Obaseki tells Oshiomhole [Punch]

Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki says the All Progressives Congress’ National Working Committee has no power to decide how the party governorship primary in the state will be conducted.

The primary has been scheduled to hold next month, with the governorship poll fixed for September.

The APC NWC headed by Adams Oshiomhole has ordered direct primary.

Obaseki has been locked in a fierce battle with  Oshiomhole over the control of the party in Edo.

The governor,  who spoke through his Special Adviser on Media and Strategy,  Crusoe Osagie, on Friday, said the NWC could not take any decisions on the primary without the National Executive Committee of the party.

Obaseki said, “That report was a scoop, there was no meeting of the NWC in which the decision was taken. If the Oshiomhole camp is having it at the back of their minds that it is what they want to do, they don’t have the power to do that.

“The power to direct what kind of primary to do rests on  NEC and NEC at the last meeting decided that because of the dissenting voices, all modes of primary should be decided by the different state chapters as it was done in Kogi and Bayelsa. In Kogi, for example, they determined the kind of primary they wanted, and in Bayelsa, the same thing happened.

“So, in Edo, the same method will be adopted, according to the rules of NEC. We will now write the NWC to say this is the mode of primary that we want.”

Osagie said a statement from a senior member of the party and former governor of the state  (Chief John Odigie-Oyegun) had already confirmed that the President had adopted Obaseki and  Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, as the preferred candidates for the governorship elections unless they decided not to run.

The issue of the conduct of the primary has become a major topic among political observers in the state even as the various political groups strategise towards presenting a formidable aspirant against Obaseki in the primary.

Our correspondent learnt that the direct primary would involve all registered card-carrying members of the party in each council.

However, it remains unclear how the Edo   APC’s direct primary will be conducted as the party remains fictionalised, with one side loyal to Obaseki and the other to Oshiomhole.

Meanwhile, a political analyst and former Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Prof Julius Iyasele, said except something was done urgently to resolve the crisis, the state could be heading to anarchy.

He said, “I do not see how the primary will be conducted in such a way that a common candidate will be presented in the Edo governorship election as things are now. Both parties have remained adamant and stuck to their guns; the search for truce by sincere men in this matter has failed on many occasions. I am afraid we are heading for anarchy.”

INEC begins meeting with stakeholders on Edo, Ondo polls next week

Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission says it will start meeting with Edo and Ondo election stakeholders from May 30. The Edo governorship poll has been scheduled for  September 19  and the Ondo version for October 10.

INEC National Commissioner, Festus Okoye, revealed these in a statement on Thursday night after the body’s meeting where the “Policy on conducting elections in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic” was approved.

According to him, INEC is planning for nine bye-elections in seven states in addition to the Edo and Ondo polls.

He said the bye-elections would hold in  Bayelsa Central Senatorial District, Bayelsa West Senatorial District, Imo North Senatorial District, Plateau South Senatorial District, Cross River North Senatorial District, and Nganzai State Constituency, Borno State.

Others are Bayo State Constituency, Borno State, Nasarawa Central State Constituency in Nasarawa State and Bakori State Constituency in Katsina State

Okoye said,  “Citizens must be assured that they will be safe while participating as voters, candidates and officials.

Also, a  faction of the  Edo State chapter of the APC  loyal to the National Chairman on Friday claimed it had uncovered plans by the state government to scuttle the party’s governorship primary.

In a letter by the factional Secretary of the party in the state, Lawrence Okah, and addressed to the INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, the group,  led by David Imuse, alleged that Obaseki had ordered the testing of “fictitious”300,000 persons for COVID-19 to announce fake positive results to use the development to scuttle the June 22  primary.

Okah said, “It has come to our notice that the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, has concluded plans to scuttle the primary election of the All Progressives Congress scheduled to hold on June 22. The pretext is that if held, the primary election will escalate cases of COVID-19  in Edo.”

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