It was 10pm on May 8, 2020. The sun was long gone. But the flares it left behind for Kano residents were enough to cremate its growing number of so called mysterious dead bodies. A few days earlier, some covid-19 patients at the Kwanar Dawakin isolation centre locked up health officials who were on a ward round while some individuals who had just tested positive fled their homes, switched off their phones and disappeared into the dusty wind of the ancient city. Almajiris bused from Kano to Kaduna and Jigawa, were returning positive tests. Yet the the streets of Kano remained littered with the Islamic pupils that had earlier on been banned by the state government.
Kano had moved to number two in the list of states reporting infected people. Yet, the numbers had only just begun to spike with doctors and nursing getting infected at an alarming rate at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital and private hospitals personnel beating bush paths to their various homes.
When covid-19 hit Lagos on February 27th, 2020, the second port of call that came to my mind was Kano. “What if this thing hits Kano?, I asked myself several times. But as the disease moved from Lagos to the surrounding states and jumped to Abuja and Kaduna, Kano remained unperturbed. As the issue of hand washing, social distancing, don’t hug, and don’t shake hands began to crawl into the life style of people around the country, Kano snored away. Religious and social activities continued as usual.
Then one day, Governor Ganduje began to feel a bush fire creeping into his backyard. He ordered that all the state borders be lockdown and requested for a financial intervention from the Federal Government. It took another week or so for him to check to see whether his order was being carried out. Well, the security men were doing brisk business. Their time had come. Their “beans don done.” With a few bucks in the hands, they point a thermometer on your forehead and declare you Corona free and free to roll into town. As for his request for financial intervention, President Buhari offered the governor some thoughts and gworo to chew. “First show us what you have done Mr governor” said the presidency
That’s how the index case was registered in Kano by one “big man” who may have come into the country through Lagos and went on a tour of duty to Abuja and Kaduna to re-inforce his infection. Kano panicked and declared a total shut down. But it was too late. Suddenly, there were reports of hundreds of mysterious deaths which a government official later said were associated with covid-19 though others disagreed.
Kano entered the covid-19 map in grand style. Hundreds of young men, as it were, organized a novelty football match to celebrate the coming of covid-19 to Kano.
Soon, nobody was concerned about Lagos any more. It was now Kano, Kano and Kano in the news media and on the streets around the country. So much so that you would think that the people of Kano had become gripped with fear and living underground. Not so. The people of Kano are not exhibiting any hysteria. On the two days of free movements, most go about their activities with little or no regards to the much prescribed safety protocols. Before now, Kano people wear masks due to dusty winds. Now that everyone is required to wear a mask, majority don’t give a damn. So much needs to be done to make the people understand the gravity of the situation. Unfortunately, evidence of that is yet to be seen. Kano needs to urgently borrow a leaf, if not a book, from Lagos and build capacity in public health emergency. It is not enough to claim a higher population than Lagos. Mega states pose mega developmental challenges. Those who aspire to govern such states must be physically mentally and psychologically prepared to take things by the horns when big problems arise as they often do.
The NCDC and Federal Government know that if Kano is left to swim alone, it will go down and take the country with it. The state is being flooded with public health experts from WHO and other institutions. Nevertheless, with the country wide scarcity of testing kits and bed spaces, only God knows how Kano will overcome the spread of the dreaded disease. For now, please remember Kano in your supplications. END.