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COVID-19: Status of 20 Nigerian governors unknown

COVID-19: Status of 20 Nigerian governors unknown

dailytrust.com.ng 9h

3 test positive, 13 negative

  • 39 ministers silent

  • It’s a moral burden to declare – Lawyers

  • CSOs react

The COVID-19 status of 20 out of the 36 states governors in Nigeria is not known, findings by the Daily Trust have shown.

It would be recalled that the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Ekiti State governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, had advised his colleagues to go for the test because of their exposure.

The governors that are yet to make their status known are those of Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Delta, Enugu, Zamfara, Kano, Jigawa, Adamawa, Taraba, Gombe and Lagos state. The rest are those of Plateau, Sokoto, Yobe, Kwara, Benue, Ebonyi, Kogi, Imo and Abia.

However, three governors have tested positive for the novel coronavirus and made their status known using different platforms.

They are; Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed of Bauchi; Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna; and Seyi Makinde of Oyo State.

Nigerians from across the divide had commended what the three governors did,  saying declaring their status was a good example and will encourage many people to go for the test.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) had reportedly written to all the governors to self-isolate after undergoing test for COVID-19 as a precautionary measure.

Daily Trust tally revealed that the results of thirteen governors who subjected themselves for the novel coronavirus test came out negative. They are the governors of Kebbi, Katsina, Osun, Ekiti, Edo, Bayelsa, Ogun, Ondo, Nasarawa, Niger, Cross River, Anambra and Borno.

Why some governors did not test for COVID-19

Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State is among the governors who are yet to make their COVID-19 status known.

The state Commissioner of Health, Dr. Ali Inname, confirmed this while fielding questions from journalists in Sokoto.

According to him, the governor was only observing social distancing as recommended by NCDC but not on self -isolation as being insinuated in the social media. Inname also said that the governor was not tested for COVID-19 because he had not shown any of its cardinal symptoms.

“One can only be tested when he has a contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus and later begin to show its symptoms or has the four cardinal symptoms. Our governor is not showing any of these symptoms and has been attending state businesses,” he said.

Efforts to confirm whether Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State had undergone test for coronavirus were not successful. Messages sent to the Chief Press Secretary/Media Adviser were not returned.

Also, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Declan Emelumba, told our correspondent that it was not his responsibility to confirm whether the governor had tested for COVID -19 or not. The Delta State Commissioner of Information, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, said it was not necessary for Governor Ifeanyi Okowa to subject himself to self- isolation.

Speaking to our correspondent on phone, Aniagwu said Okowa was not at the governors’ forum meeting that prompted the call for all governors to self-isolate.

He said the governor was only represented at the meeting.

In Lagos, the epicentre of the coronavirus crisis, the status of Governor Babajide Sanwo -Olu was still unknown.

The Commissioner for Information, Gbenga Omotosho, said it was a personal matter.

According to him, “Although I have not asked him if he has done his test for COVID-19 or not, but I think the governor does not need to do the test because other governors are doing it. He has not shown any symptoms, so why doing it?

“There are many people who are anxious to get the test done to ascertain the state of their health, why not give them the opportunity to do the test instead of wasting the testing kits?” he asked.

“Some members of the cabinet have done theirs sometimes ago. We were not forced to do it; so it is not everyone that did it. Test is not something that should just be done for the sake of doing it especially if someone has not travelled or been in contact with someone who has been tested positive,” he said.

The Plateau State Commissioner of Information and Communication, Mr. Dan Manjang, told Daily Trust that he was not aware if Governor Simon Bako Lalong had undergone the test for COVID-19.

He said all he knew was that Lalong was healthy, active and had been performing essential public functions in the state.

There was no report whether Governor Mai Mala Buni got tested for COVID-19 or not and at the time of filing this report, he was not on self- isolation.

However, calls and text message sent to his spokesman, Mamman Mohammed, to comment on this issue were not replied.

Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has not yet tested for coronavirus. Ortom’s spokesman, Terver Akase, in a text message to our correspondent, however, said that the governor had offered to undergo the test.

Akase also in another email message stated that, “the governor expressed his readiness to submit a sample of his blood for testing and promised to make the result public after the test. He also urged his deputy to do same to be sure of his status.”

In Zamfara, the Special Adviser to the governor on Public Enlightenment, Media Communication, Mallam Zailani Bappa said he was not aware whether Governor Bello Matawalle was tested or not, saying he would have to find out from his personal physician.

Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State is yet to undergo coronavirus test and no reason was given by one of his media aides.

The status of Governor Darius Ishaku of Taraba State is not known. Sources close to the governor said they will not comment on the matter, insisting that it was at the discretion of the governor to make it public.

Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri of Adamawa State has not undergone coronavirus test also.

The Director General, Media and Communication in the governor’s office, Solomon Kumangar, said the governor had been in Kano for the recent PDP congresses and did not make any suspicious contact afterwards.

In Jigawa, the COVID-19 status of Governor Muhammad Badaru is also not known. The situation is the same in Gombe, Kwara, Ebonyi, and Kogi.

And in Kano, the Commissioner of Information, Malam Muhammad Garba, said that Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje had voluntarily gone for the test and that the result was being awaited.

Garba said doctors had confirmed that since there were no symptoms of the disease, there was no need for the governor to self- isolate.

He said, “Governor Ganduje has undergone test for COVID-19 in his quest to know his status and we are waiting for the result. As soon as the result is ready, we will make the status of the governor public.”

Only 4 ministers made COVID-19 status public

Out of the 43 ministers in the cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari, only four of them had announced their status despite their exposure to the key aide of Mr. President who tested positive for the deadly virus.

Malam Abba Kyari had attended the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting on March 18, 2020, less than seven days before it was announced that he had tested positive for the COVID-19.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed; the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed and the Minister of State, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Hajiya Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu, were the only known ministers that disclosed that they tested negative for the coronavirus.

However, if the remark of the information minister is to be relied on, all ministers who are members of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 would have been tested for the virus, but they have not individually made their status public.

Morality should prevail- Lawyers

Senior lawyers yesterday said it would be “highly irresponsible” for any governor that has had contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 not to self-isolate or disclose his health status.

One of the lawyers, Ernest Ojukwu (SAN), who is a professor of law at the Nigerian Law School, said though there was no legal basis for citizens of such states to demand to know the health status of their governors, it would be an act of irresponsibility for such governors to hold back their health status as regards the coronavirus pandemic.

He added that leadership, being built on trust and accountability, would be better served if and when citizens could trust their leaders to be transparent in their dealings, including their health status.

Also speaking, Dr. Biodun Layonu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said since self-isolation was one of the precautionary measures put out by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, which so far had no vaccine, it would be “highly irresponsible” for any governor who recently visited a high-risk country or had contact with a confirmed case of the COVID-19 not to self-isolate.

According to him, as a private citizen, he had been on self-isolation in the past days without seeing his family, and wondered why some governors would not do so.

Barrister Mustapha Isa Aliyu said there was a moral burden on governors and other senior government officials to declare their status. “It is not necessary but they should do it as a mark of respect for Nigerians,” he said.

CSOs want full disclosure

The Director, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Idayat Hassan, said it smacks of irresponsibility on the part of the affected governors who have refused to go for tests or disclose their status.

“We are in a state of emergency and their health is no longer private. It is shameful that we are seeing many of these governors mixing with the general public and possibly endangering their lives.

“They all have to speak out and not endanger the lives of the citizens. These are difficult times for everybody and leadership must entail openness,” she said.

On his part, the Executive Director, YIAGA Africa, Samson Itodo, said the attitude of some of the governors was the most unfortunate development in the nation’s concerted war against the pandemic.

He said, “They put other citizens at risk if they fail to go for testing. Whilst they are entitled to their privacy, but they are public officials who ought to know they constitute huge health risks.”

Also, the Executive Director of the CLEEN Foundation, Dr. Benson Olugbuo, said that leadership should be by example and urged all the governors that are yet to go for the test to respect the call of the NCDC and do so.

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