Gov. Ayade

The governor of Cross River State, South-South Nigeria, Prof Ben Ayade  has said that Africans, including Nigerians are being exploited in the ways and manner they handle the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. He is of the strong view that Africa; most especially Nigeria should evolve a home grown approach to the prevention of the spread of the virus as well as its cure.

The Professor of Science, who spoke Thursday on a Channels TV interview, also insisted that the state has zero case of the virus more than two months after the first case was reported in the country, attributing the feat to the lockout policy adopted by the state very early enough to ensure that no infected person came into the state.

He frowned at Africa’s usual way of relying on protocols for the control and cure of the virus from the western world, which totally do not suit the peculiar nature of Africa and Africans, arguing that it is high time African leaders developed home-grown solutions to their problems including COVID-19 rather than relying on external people, who often exploit them in the process.

According to him: “The coronavirus by its nature and composition is novel, which implies that even the western nations, which Africa is relying upon do not also have the cure. Most African nations closed their borders to the virus, but they did not close the same borders to the protocols for handling the spread and cure.

“Why are we not researching for the cure? Why are we not producing test kits, ventilators, personal protective equipment PPE and even trying to produce the vaccines locally rather than wait for the western world all the time. This is why I like what the government of Madagascar is doing. That is what Nigeria should be doing because if Nigeria does not take the lead in Africa who will?”

While responding to a question on how the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19, the Federal Ministry of Health and the Centre for Disease Control NCDC are handling the virus said that such protocols conform to international best practice but regretted that such protocols do not suit our peculiar environment.

For instance, he argued that most of these developed countries in Europe, Asia and America had what it takes to impose a lockdown even as their economies are strong enough to withstand the economic pressures that come with such lockdown, all of which are lacking in Nigeria and in Africa, wondering why it should be adopted in the first place.

While disclosing that he is currently researching into the production of a vaccine that could prevent the virus, the governor also noted that he adopted the lockout out option because he knew that lockdown will devastate the economy, as it will impinge on the wellbeing of the people, arguing that you cannot destroy the people’s personal economies to prevent the spread of virus.

Under the lockout, it was gathered that the state government acquired over 100 brand new surveillance vehicles to enable it man all the borders with neighbouring states as well as those with Cameroon whether or illegal. In line with this policy, the governor deployed top government officials including commissioners, permanent secretaries and special advises and assistants to man the borders in their local government areas to avoid possible compromise by security agents.

He disclosed that all vehicles, including those on essential services coming into the state were properly screened, citing cases where tankers going to take refined petroleum products from the tank farms at the Calabar seaports were escorted in and out after their business to ensure full control.

It was further gathered that the state was the first to commission all the garment firms to begin massive production of face masks, which were distributed free to the people and also made it an offence for anyone not to wear face masks, which was also strictly enforced including physical distancing in public places.

While reacting to the allegation that the state is not testing enough, he argued that the test kits are very expensive and so the state cannot begin to test everyone on the street. He disclosed that what the state did more was contact tracing and testing those people suspected along the line as against the practice of random testing, which he described as wasteful.

On the reported cases of the use of Chloroquine, he noted that Nigeria is within the malaria endemic region, adding that the symptoms of the virus are also similar to those of malaria, which further confuses Nigerians about some of the information being released by the health agencies about the spread and cure of the virus.