Kano’s fallen top shots
Last weekend, residents of Kano State were thrown into a panic with the death of many prominent indigenes of the state. The deaths, estimated at more than 300, cut across the different walks of life from the corporate world to academics and science and technology.
Even the media was not spared the agony with the death of the Editor of Triumph Newspaper, Alhaji Musa Tijani.
Other notable songs of Kano who lost their lives in the mysterious deaths between Saturday and Sunday last week included Prof.Ibrahim Ayagi, Dr. Musa Gwarzo, Dahiru Rabiu, Adamu Dal, Salisu Lado, Shamsiyya Mustapha, Nene Umma, Garba Fagge, Nasiru Bichi, Aliyu Dikko, Prof. Balarabe Maikaba and the former Commissioner for Education, Alhaji Aminu Yahaya.
The mystery deaths continued into the early part of the week with the deaths of Dr. Uba Adamu, father of the Vice-Chancellor of the National Open University, Prof.Abdullahi Adamu; Spiritual Leader of the Murtala Mohammed Central Mosque in Kano, Sheikh Tijjani Yola; former chairperson of the Federation of Muslim Women Association of Nigeria, Kano State chapter, Hajiya Halima Shittu; a lecturer at the Department of Architecture, Kano State University of Science and Technology (KUST), Wudil, Dr. Ghali Kabiru Umar; among others.
As it would be expected, residents of the city have continued to live in fear over the unusual deaths and the circumstances in which they occurred. Not a few residents of the state believe that the deaths might have to do with the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
Elder statesman, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, who expressed dismay over the deaths, however, largely attributed it to the severe heat in the city.
He said: “The information I received indicates that the majority of the deaths are related to excessive heat that Kano is experiencing at this time. And there are so many reasons for that. The first reason is the climatic condition, which is always hot from April to July.
“From the reports I received, there are three symptoms related to some of the deaths reported.
“The symptoms are high fever and severe headache. From my experience, right from the time when I was 10 to 15 years old, this period of heat usually comes with these types of symptoms and the resultant effect is the emergence of meningitis in a period like this.”
Chief Ojemba Mathias, a non-native, said his people from the eastern part of the country were worried by the news of mysterious deaths in Kano as well as the rising number of COVID-19 carriers in the ancient commercial city.
His wife and children, who left Kano in the wake of the quit notice purportedly issued by Arewa youths a few years ago, have been on his neck to return home.
He said: “No single resident of Kano would say that he or she is not worried about the development. I have not been sleeping well because of the havoc being wreaked by this strange ailment and the menace of COVID-19.
“My wife and children call me every hour of the day to be assured that I am still healthy and alive. They are of the candid opinion that I start returning home. But because of the lockdown, there is no way I can travel down to the East.”
Even outside Kano, individuals and groups have continued to express concern over the alarming rate of the mysterious deaths ravaging Kano. Residents, both high and low, are understandably apprehensive.
A few days ago, moved by the recurrent deaths, former Kano State governor, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, in a letter addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari, tasked the Federal Government to take urgent steps to address the situation, just as he accused his successor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, of displaying laxity in his handling of the matter.
Also on Tuesday, the House of Representatives, during a special session, unanimously adopted a motion moved by the Leader of the House, Hon. Alhassan Ado Doguwa, charging the Federal Government to consider Kano “a special case” and assist with immediate financial, material and human resources to enable it to surmount the health challenges facing the state.
Happily, the state government appears to have risen to the challenge. The leadership of the House of Representatives on Tuesday commended Governor Ganduje for the commitment and resilience he has shown in the fight against the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
The Reps also showed solidarity with Ganduje on the efforts he has so far made to unravel the mystery behind the unusual deaths being recorded in about eight local government areas within the Kano metropolis.
The Leader of the House, Hon. Alhassan Ado Doguwa, who led a high-powered delegation inaugurated by the Speaker of the House on a solidarity visit to Kano State also hinted that earlier on Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed a motion demanding that the Federal Government immediately provide financial, technical and material support to tackle the health challenges facing Kano.
According to him, during a special session on Tuesday, the House of Representatives deliberated seriously on the Kano issue and every member believed that “Kano’s problem is Nigeria’s problem.”
Doguwa further stated that on Monday, three senators and 24 House of Representatives members from Kano jointly wrote a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, demanding that the Federal Government should take urgent steps to support Kano in this critical time.
He further stated: “With me is a high-powered delegation under the leadership of Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, as a result of a resolution made in the House. The delegation is home-bound because it is made up of members from Kano State.
“We were sent by the leadership of the House to convey our solidarity to Governor Ganduje, the Kano State Government, and the good people of Kano State.
“We are here to convey to you our concern over what is happening in Kano. We are here on behalf of the Speaker to register our solidarity to Your Excellency.
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“Apart from COVID-19, we are also aware of another killer disease that has been killing our people, particularly in eight local government areas within the metropolis.”
Doguwa further stated that “today (Tuesday), the House during a special session deliberated on the Kano issue. All the members in the House believe that Kano’s problem is Nigeria’s problem.
“We took a motion to urge the Federal Government to provide financial, technical, and material support for Kano.
“On Monday, three senators and 24 House of Representatives members from Kano jointly wrote a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari on Kano issue. We appealed to him for the Federal Government to collaborate with the Kano State Government to bring an end to
this problem of COVID-19 and other health issues facing the state.
“We are proud of the commitment and resilience Governor Ganduje has shown to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Responding, Ganduje thanked members of the National Assembly, particularly the House of Representatives, for their concern and support for the Kano State Government and the people of Kano State.
He added: “We are grateful to the Kano State caucus of the National Assembly for writing President Buhari to give Kano special attention.
“Also, we thank them to have convinced the House of Representatives to pass a resolution urging the Federal Government to give Kano special attention. I thank them and I believe something positive will come out of it.”
Ganduje orders investigation
Meanwhile, the Kano State Government has acknowledged the numerous deaths, assuring that it was on top of the situation.
Already, Governor Ganduje has directed the state’s Ministry of Health to conduct a thorough investigation into the immediate and remote causes of the deaths.
The state Commissioner of Information, Malam Muhammad Garba, who revealed this, said although an investigation into the cause of the deaths was still ongoing, preliminary reports from the state Ministry of Health indicated that the deaths were not connected to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He added that reports from the state Ministry of Health showed that most of the deaths were caused by complications arising from hypertension, diabetes, meningitis, and acute malaria. He added that Governor Ganduje was earnestly awaiting the final report from the state Ministry of Health to take the necessary action.
According to him, Governor Ganduje had from the outset demonstrated the zeal and political will to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
He said: “The Governor Ganduje administration has been commended from within and outside the state over the proactive measures it took towards curbing the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This explains why Kano, apart from being the most populated state, did not record a case of the pandemic until lately.
“Although we agree that the situation on hand currently is serious, we are not resting on our oars in taking appropriate measures to ensure that the good people of Kano State and, indeed, residents in the state protect themselves from the novel COVID-19 pandemic.”
He further noted that part of the measures taken by the state government to stop the spread of the virus includes the ongoing lockdown, closing of borders, aggressive campaign for social distancing, washing and sanitizing of hands as well as strict adherence to and practice of the principles of personal hygiene.
Moved by the high rate of deaths, Ganduje directed the state Ministry of Health to immediately carry out verbal autopsy concerning those who lost their lives to strange ailments over the weekend.
The state’s Commissioner for Information, Malam Muhammad Garba, who announced this in a statement in Kano, said a combined team from the state Ministry of Health and the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) had been drafted to eight local government areas within the Kano Emirate Council to perform the autopsy exercise.
Garba said: “I am pleased to inform the good people of Kano State that verbal autopsy to determine the real cause of the deaths of our citizens who lost their lives over the weekend has begun in earnest.
“Following the directive of the governor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, health experts from the state Ministry of Health and the NCDC have been drafted to visit the families and relatives of the dead to trace their medical history, to ascertain what led to their deaths.”
According to him, the state Ministry of Health is also working round the clock to ensure adequate availability of drugs for common ailments such as malaria, typhoid fever, and meningitis, among others.
He added: “Our primary healthcare system has also been re-activated across the 44 local government areas to guarantee easy access to healthcare delivery, even as we continue to battle the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic.”