Mrs Kafilat Ogbara, a Chieftain of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) in Lagos, in this recent chat with Olanrewaju Adesanya bares her mind on the ravenous Coronavirus pandemic, taking the world by the storm and sending jitters down the spine of the world’s economic base. Excerpt:
New cases of COVID 19 are being recorded daily, where do we go from here?
We saw it coming, and now it’s here already, a lot of developed nations could not even contain it so we don’t expect anything super from Nigeria, it is a pity we could have prevented it, but the government is doing all it can to stop further spread.
I think we need to do more, unlike the ebola case, government has failed in taking proactive measures to prevent this. As it is now, we need all hands on deck to contain it, government bodies, corporate organisations, individuals, we all have to come together to stop this. As individuals we should invest in the test kits, join the government in the awareness campaign, within our estate, we can ensure people get tested before they are allowed into our compounds and when we discover any case we should call any of the free toll numbers.
I can tell you for free that this thing is more than what is being reported in the media, a lot of people already contacted this thing who have not been tracked and they are infecting others everyday.
We need to follow the instructions given by medical practitioners, we need to wash our hands regularly, keep our environment clean, stay at home, if you must go out at all make it a selective outing, we need to ensure we use one stop shops where we can get all our things and return home immediately, this thing is everywhere now, you can see it in high places, the son of a former Vice President, Chief of Staff to the President are some of those infected already so, it’s no longer a joke.
Government also need to discentralise these isolation centres, we have halls that we use for Owambe parties government can use those facilities for now in each Local Government.
Would you support the position of the wife of the President that as long as the parents still go out and come back to make contact with their children we are still not serious about it, therefore, everyone should stay at home?
Of course, she is right because, of what meaning is it when children stay at home and the parents goes out, get exposed to all manner of things out there, come back and still make contact with their children, it doesn’t make any sense.
However, the government must also make it comfortable for people to stay at home, we are asking people to stay at home, how safe is it for a family of seven inside one room, there are houses where fifteen people stay in a room in this Lagos, it is easy for us to say people should stay at home, but do you know the condition of their houses.
People even look for small space to lay their heads and when the day breaks they are out again, we need to make things easy for this set of people, they are our people ,we are one family, this is already being done in other countries, government is already giving incentives for people to stay indoor, food items are being distributed, payments of rent stopped and so on, Nigeria government need to do something to make staying at home easy for the people.
You asked people to stay at home, there is no electricity, the house is hot, some depends on water vendors for their daily water use, if the vendors stays at home there would be no water for them to use for their hygiene, some only have access to decent toilet facilities in their place of work and now that you ask them to stay indoor what happens. I think government need to look beyond this elitist policies and realise that there are downtrodden Nigerians who cannot survive without going out to vend for their daily living. What are the provisions government is making to ensure a level of palliative for this kinds of people who must always go out to look for money to feed their children?
All these still boils down to what people have been saying about bad leadership, poor governance. I am an APC Chieftain, yes, but truth be told, things are not the way it should be, we don’t even have the right data to do all these, we don’t have the number of people who are old and young, how many people are employed, how many are unemployed, people’s telephone number, account details and so on, with all these data, it would have been easier to reach out to the people but in the absence of that, if the government can still work with the Local Governments, they know how to get the people at the grassroots.
We know how we go from house to house to meet people when we want votes, we know how to reach every house when we want to collect our levies, we can always device means to reach out to the people if we actually want to as government.
Do you think the government has been proactive enough in handling this issue?
I am one of the people who has been clamouring for a shut down before now, asking that our borders be closed but you can see from the calibre of people coming back into the country in recent time the reason why the government refused to shut down the airspace before now. They were waiting for family members to arrive before they would close the airspace, they are putting the lives of over 200 million Nigerians at risk because of their family members. I am speaking as a Nigerian now not as an APC Chieftain or a politician . Before we have the index case, we were hearing how it was spreading everywhere, yet, we were still allowing flight to come into Nigeria from those high risk countries. They kept telling us they have this electronic devices that could test people from afar off and I wonder why the device could not pick the cases we have now who came in through the Airport.
Most of the cases we have now, the people affected called by themselves not even that they were detected by the government, so, if they had not called they would be spreading it everywhere, it is pathetic, I think the government failed in this area, thats my opinion.
I think this is an opportunity for us to reflect as a nation, for instance, like the NAFDAC DG told us, we are at a risk now because most of the drugs we use are imported from China and some other high risk countries, it is time for the government to begin to look inward and see how we can be independent in these essential areas like education, health, drugs and so on.
What do you wish Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu on his 68th birthday?
Asiwaju is not just our leader, he is a global phenomenon, a mentor and a visionary leader, he is a man with foresight, he is somebody I admire a lot, we look up to him, he has taken Lagos to an enviable height, with this level of social, economic and political stability.
I wish him many more years in good health, sound mind, joy and happiness, not only for him, his wife too, senator Oluremi Tinubu. I wish him happy birthday.