Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Covid-19: Efik leaders writes Buhari, accuse Ayade of Corruption, misinformation

Governor Ben Ayade (R) having a private talk with Buhari (L) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia  

Efik leaders have written a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari drawing his attention to Cross River Government's confusing response to COVID-19 pandemic and called for Federal Government's intervention so that the State does not become a danger to the nation's effort to contain the deadly virus.

The leaders, under the auspices of Efik Leadership Foundation, said the nation had been treated to a series of bizarre theatrics from the State Governor, Ben Ayade, noting that he had relentlessly made public pronouncements against the directives of the Federal Government and the World Health Organisation on measures to manage the pandemic.

The letter jointly signed by Chairman of the Foundation's Board of Trustees, Richard Duke; Chairman of the Good Governance Committee of the foundation, Timothy Esu; and two other members of the Committee, Barbara James and Eyo Ekpo, said Governor Ben Ayade had done little to build and equip laboratories, isolation centres despite N900m withdrawal to combat the deadly virus.

The leaders, in the letter, also accuse the Governor of withdrawing N4.5bn from joint 18 Local Governments fund to set up new airline amidst coronavirus pandemic.

Noting that after using the fact that he has a Ph.D in an unrelated scientific field, Governor Ayade has touted patently false and misleading science as a basis for his actions, they said the Governor's various dangerous actions may have been overlooked as merely comical, but the supportive actions and pronouncements from the State Commissioner for Health and other acts of the Government made them fear that the lives and health security of residents of the State had become endangered.

The letter read:

"Mr. President is invited to note that even after illegally engineering the withdrawal of N900,000,000.00 (Nine hundred million naira) from the joint funds of the 18 Local Governments in the State, ostensibly towards COVID-19 intervention actions, the State Government has gone on to extract another N4,500,000,000 (four billion, five hundred million naira) from the same joint Local Government fund for an alleged investment in a State airline, of all things.

"The State Government has done very little to train, equip and deploy health personnel, build and equip healthcare facilities, laboratories and isolation centres in the State, drive home the message about the importance of testing, physical distancing and personal hygiene and generally prepare to contain the disease in the State. Yet, in contrast, the State Government has also made a big public relations show of distributing food items among a few communities in the State and locking down the State at its main land border at the Itu Bridge, even as other land and riverine entry points along the State's borders are very much in use.

"As prove of preparations to contain the disease, citizens are shown pictures of hotel facilities at the Tinapa Resort Hotel that are passed off by the State Government as a 116-bed isolation centre. The sad truth, however, is that the only facility with some semblance of an isolation centre is a 4-bed building within the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital Complex. Further more, the State Civil Service Commission very recently published a call for applications of experienced medical personnel to be employed into the State Ministry of Health. Unfortunately, Cross River is now well-known in Nigerian medical circles as noted in Annex 2, as the State with the lowest paid medical personnel." it reads in part.

The leaders therefore urged President Buhari to "direct the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, the Ministry of Health, the National Centre for Disease Control and other relevant agencies to immediately provide support to the State in form of test kits, PPE, ventilators and trained personnel to be delivered to the three Federal medical institutions in the State, namely the Navy Reference Hospital Calabar, the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital and the Federal Neuto-Psychiatric Hospital;

"Direct that accordingly test stations are to be established in the said Federal institutions and urgently utilized in accordance with proper medical protocols for testing citizens of Cross River State for Covid-19 virus;

"Direct that the outcomes of tests to be conducted be used in determining whatever public health measures are necessary to be further undertaken in the state for the detection, containment and prevention of the COVID-19 disease; and

"Direct that relevant Federal law enforcement, intelligence and military agencies are immediately deployed to reinforece the lockdown at all entry points into the State in aid of efforts to ensure that prayers a to c above are fully and properly executed."

Culled from This Day Newspaper.