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Nigeria: COVID-19 threatens to hit three fragile northeastern states hardest

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The arrival of COVID-19 in Nigeria sparked a cascade of crises, but the pandemic poses its greatest threat in the impoverished, fragile northeast of Africa’s largest country, according to a new assessment by the UNDP .

There, Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe states comprise “one of the most pronounced, multi-faceted, and complex humanitarian and development crises known to the international community today,” UNDP’s 2018 Nigeria Human Development report found—more than two years before the zoonotic pathogen we now know as a novel coronavirus brought economies, livelihoods, and lives to a sudden, painful halt.

As all of Nigeria reels from a 55 percent drop in the price of its leading export, oil, experts say the country’s northeast stands to suffer most as a result of the pandemic—particularly its 1.8 million internally displaced people, living in overcrowded camps and already struggling to survive. The health care system in all three states is fractured, with 35 percent of health facilities damaged by conflict and routine vaccination campaigns and other essential health services already disrupted.

UNDP’s rapid COVID-19 socioeconomic assessment, which will inform policies and programs to help the country recover, envisages three possible scenarios in the northeast:

Violent extremist groups such as Boko Haram could step up recruitment by exploiting vulnerable people or take advantage of security vacuums as the government pivots to contain the outbreak or as outbreaks occur within the military or police.

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– A complete lockdown without protection for vulnerable populations in a conflict setting—where social bonds are weak—could trigger further unrest, which would make containing the virus even more difficult.

– Lockdown could also threaten peacebuilding work by humanitarian and security actors, who play a vital role in rebuilding social bonds, reintegrating ex-combatants, and restoring livelihoods.

Possible responses include halting the rotation of security personnel, setting up testing, quarantine, and isolation centers within military barracks and camps, and raising awareness of key hygiene practices and COVID-19 symptoms. Keeping supply chains intact and expanding the land area of extremely crowded IDP camps in the Northeast will be essential, the assessment finds.

UNDP and other agencies respond

Across the country, Nigeria—with more than 200 million people—has extremely limited health care resources, with only 330 intensive care facilities, five COVID-19 testing and treatment centers, and just 100 beds in a designated isolation facility in the capital, Lagos—with graver shortfalls in the northeast.

To help meet emerging needs, UNDP and other agencies have shipped in ventilators and other essential medical supplies. An initial shipment included 50 A30 ventilators and personal protective equipment procured with funds from the COVID-19 Basket Fund, launched in April.

UNDP is helping to create emergency employment opportunities—restoring trade flows and supporting the smooth functioning of markets shoring up food security in the hardest-hit communities—and supported the creation of public service announcements with celebrities aimed at tackling gender-based and domestic violence, which spike globally during crises.

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It’s also helped launch a National COVID-19 Response Plan around 10 pillars that include scaling up surveillance, testing, isolation, contact-tracing, infection prevention and control; case management of COVID-19 patients; risk communication and community engagement; emergency preparedness, security, and logistics for mass care; and resource mobilization.

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Group congratulates ex-Oyo commissioner, Olowofela on new appointment

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Prof.Olowofela

A socio-political group under the aegis of Tinubu Legacy Forum (TLF) has felicitated with the former Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology in Oyo state, Prof. Adeniyi Olowofela over his appointment as member,  Federal Character Commission (FCC).

President Muhammadu Buhari had on Thursday swore in Professor Olowofela and other board members of the commission in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

The group in a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Hamzat Olalekan on Friday and made available to Mega Icon Magazine, noted that Olowofela’s optimism, intellect, humility, loyalty, perseverance and political consistency paved way for this appointment; urging him to keep the good personality on strive.

“Following the Senate approval of Prof. Olowofela’s appointment and 36 others’ appointments to the Federal Character Commission (FCC), the entire membership of Tinubu Legacy Forum (TLF), nationwide and diaspora under the BOT Chairman, Alhaji Ganiyu Akeem felicitates and rejoice with him as he was sworn-in yesterday, 2nd July, 2020 alongside other members by the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“We believe your optimism, intellect, humility, loyalty, perseverance and political consistency paved way for this appointment; keep the good personality on strive and the sky wouldn’t be your limit.

“Accept our heart-warming congratulations, may God Almighty guide, protect and see you through to the next level”, the statement reads.

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The ex- Ido Local Government gaffer would be representing Oyo state at the Federal Character Commission (FCC).

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Ajimobi will be missed’, Makinde condoles with late governor’s family

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The Oyo state governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde has stated that his predecessor, late Governor Abiola Ajimobi would forever be missed by all and sundry.

Governor Makinde in a condolence letter dated 29th June, 2020, entitled “Letter of Condolence” stressed that late Governor Ajimobi lived a life of service to humanity and has contributed immensely to the socio-economic development of Oyo State in particular and Nigeria in general, saying, “I have no doubt he will be missed by all and sundry”.

It would be recalled that the former governor was reportedly died of complications from Coronavirus on Thursday June 25 at the First Cardiology Hospital, Ikoyi, Lagos and his remains were laid to rest at his , Oluyole residence on Sunday June 28, 2020.

 

According to the letter which was personally signed by Governor Makinde on behalf of the government and good people of Oyo State, also commiserated with the family over the shocking demise of Ajimobi.

 

The letter which was received and acknowledged on Saturday, (04/07/2020) by the bereaved family reads in part, “our consolation however, is that Senator Abiola Ajimobi, has brought his rich wealth of experience for the transformation of the state.

“As we mourn his passage, let us take solace in the righteous life he lived and his legacies which we shall fondly remember. May God Almighty give members of the family, the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss”, the governor submitted.

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COVID-19: ‘We will continue to support health workers’ – Makinde

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Oyo State governor, Engineer Seyi Makinde, on Saturday, commissioned the upgraded Agbami Isolation Centre, Jericho, Ibadan, declaring that health workers will continue to receive strong support in the fight against coronavirus in the state.

The governor, who was accompanied on the trip to Agbami by his deputy, Engineer Rauf Olaniyan, and other top government functionaries, stated that the welfare of frontline workers in the battle against COVID-19 will remain top on his administration’s agenda.

He said: “I want to also thank health workers, because you are the frontline in this battle, and you have had to work with facilities that are not up to standard but we have been partners in progress as far as lifting our health care delivery system in the state. Please, do not relent. Let us keep doing this together to defeat COVID-19.”

The governor’s !media aide,  Mr. Taiwo Adisa, quoted Makinde  as saying that though the Agbami facility was commissioned at the twilight of the last administration in the state, it  wasn’t equipped for proper use as an Isolation Centre.

According to him, the said facility was  commissioned as a Tuberculosis Centre by the immediate past administration but his government has upgraded it as an isolation centre for COVID-19 patients.

He stated that the building would serve the high-end members of the society who test positive to the virus and are in need of privacy.

According to him,”there is nothing really much to say today apart from the fact that this facility was commissioned at the twilight of the last administration. Before we came in, it was a TB centre at that time. We didn’t know there would be COVID-19 pandemic but here we are dealing with the virus.

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“We give the past administration the credit for putting this together, even though it was commissioned when it was not ready. I came here, went inside and there was absolutely nothing inside. Now that we have the pandemic on our hands, it will serve high-end individuals in Oyo State who are not comfortable going to Olodo because they want privacy and comfortability.

“We know some of you have aged parents at home and because we have to give concession for such individuals to self-isolate at home and we monitor them, now we don’t have to do much of that anymore because with the facility here, you can self-isolate.

“You will go inside and we give you the treatment. We will ensure that you don’t infect others and once you have been properly managed, you go back to your various homes.

“I battled COVID-19. It is not a death sentence and it is nothing to be ashamed of. The virus is here with us and will be here for some time to come. It will not disappear two or three weeks from now. So, we have to learn how to live with it. If anyone is feeling sick, there are facilities. We have taken the opportunity of the pandemic to strengthen our health care facilities. When it is no longer here, our facilities will remain and we will maintain them.

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“So, it is not a big deal that anyone tests positive to COVID-19 and I am not ashamed of it. I fought the virus and I am up and about now. I pray that as many of us that will fight the virus will come out of it doing very well. Don’t self-isolate at home now. If you are a high-end individual, you can come here. You don’t also need to go and hide at private hospitals where they don’t have the facility, personnel and resources to ensure you have adequate care.”

The governor also stated that the rooms  at the Agbami isolation centre have been well-equipped and fixed with oxygen concentrators.

“This facility has been upgraded now and it is now an isolation centre. We have an oxygen concentrator there and you will get the type of care you deserve,” he said.

The governor also appreciated a member of the state’s COVID-19 Task Force and former Chief Medical Director of the UCH, Professor Temitope ALonge and his team for the good job they have done and are still doing in putting up isolation centres.

He said: “I want to thank Professor Temitope Alonge for this work that you and the team have been doing and are still doing. We are quite blessed in Oyo State because we have the resources and people who can hold their own if you take them anywhere around the globe.

“I also thank the people of Oyo State for their support for this administration. If we look at where we are coming from, it has been a challenging environment. When we started the year, we had high hopes. But now, we have to shave off almost 35 per cent of our budget for the year simply because we are faced with a pandemic and economic meltdown. In spite of all of that, with the support of the good people of the state, we have been able to keep moving on.

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“We do not take the support for granted. Keep criticising us constructively on what we are doing. Anything we are doing, which you think we can do better, bring it up to us and we will make the necessary adjustments.”

Other officials in attendance at the event include the Head of Service, Mrs. Amidst Ololade Agboola; Professor Alonge and the state’s Commissioner for Health, Dr. Bashir Bello, among others.

 

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