Yahaya Bello believes Nigerian leaders have paid too much attention to the coronavirus disease.
Yahaya Bello says the reaction of Nigerians to the coronavirus outbreak in the country has wrecked the economy that President Muhammadu Buhari worked hard to revive.
Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello, says Nigerian leaders are shifting priorities in their response to the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country.
Nigeria has recorded 3,526 coronavirus cases in 34 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, as of May 7, 2020.
President Muhammadu Buhari last week announced nationwide measures that include a ban on interstate travelling, compulsory use of face masks, overnight curfew, as well as other preventive measures to combat the spread of the disease.
Many other state governments have also completely shut down social and economic activities at one point or the other since Nigeria recorded its index case on February 27.
Cross River and Bello’s Kogi are the only two states in the country yet to record cases, but authorities have expressed fears that it might be because the governments of both states are not taking it seriously enough.
Bello and Cross River’s Governor Ben Ayade have been vocal about their displeasure with the response of the Federal Government and other state governments.
A delegation of officials of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) was this week deployed to Kogi to assess the state’s response.
However, while addressing the delegation on Thursday, May 7, Bello intensified his rebuke of political leaders, health officials, and the media in their reaction to the outbreak.
He said too much panic and fears have been spread about COVID-19 as if it was the end of the world.
The 44-year-old said the disease is being massively marketed everywhere in the media while shifting priorities from other important things.
“There are so many merchants now marketing COVID-19 as if that is our priority.
“Our struggling economy that Mr President is trying to revive, we’re further killing it,” the governor said.
He said his government has done its best to make sure it did not spread panic about the outbreak, and claimed that death rate has dropped drastically during the period of the pandemic because he provided ‘that leadership’.
However, he lamented that the state’s ability to generate revenue has been badly-hit by the heavy-handed response of other governments of surrounding states.
Bello further claimed that he has thoroughly educated himself about the coronavirus, a novel disease, and that its symptoms are nothing new.
“Is this the first time we’re having these kinds of symptoms in Nigeria?
“Haven’t we been living with it and teaching ourselves and moving on?” he questioned the officials.
Bello also accused the NCDC and the World Health Organisation (WHO) of verbally increasing the mortality rate of the coronavirus disease to create panic.
He said Nigeria has lost fewer people to COVID-19 (107 deaths, as of May 7) than to other problems like Boko Haram terrorists, bandits, kidnappers, cattle rustlers, road accidents, hunger, malaria, heart attack, child mortality, and Lassa fever.
He further bizarrely called on Nigerians to be ‘courageous enough’ to tell the disease to return to China, where it was first detected in December 2019.
He said, “We should be courageous enough to say that COVID-19 has no space in Nigeria.
“Not by taking samples. You have over 2,000 across the country, what are you doing with them?
“You have released over 400 or 500, what did you use in treating them that cannot be publicised because we call it a war?
“During war, every solution is needed. You don’t leave your people to be consumed by the war.”
The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, announced on Friday, May 8 that the team has returned to Abuja without accomplishing its mission.
Reports had previously indicated Bello ordered that the officials be quarantined for 14 days at an isolation centre.
“New efforts will be made to engage Kogi State authorities for resolution of the differences,” Ehanire said.
The highly infectious coronavirus disease has infected over 3.9 million people across the world in five months, killing over 271,000.