A renowned medical practitioner and former presidential aspirant, Dr Thomas-Wilson Ikubese, has written to President Muhammadu Buhari, suggesting measures to fight against the pandemic virus, Covid-19, otherwise known as Corona virus, that is currently ravaging the world and the attendant effect on, especially Nigerians.
Dr. Ikubese, who is the convener, YesWeFit Movement, in the letter, urged President Buhari to shut down the country for two weeks and provide palliative measures to Nigerians to cushion the effect of the drastic and preventive measures aimed at combating the spread of the virus.
Dr. Ikubese who urged that N20,000 be given to all Nigerians with BVN each week during the total lockdown, also advised the President to declare a national 3 days fast and prayers for divine intervention.
He expressed fears at the entising offer of visa by the United States to African doctors who wish to travel abroad, noting that such professional drift across the Mediterranean at this trying period should be countered with good working environment and mouth-watering welfare packages by the Nigerian government.
According to him, “Mr President
Nigerian Presidential Complex,
Aso Rock Presidential Villa,
Dear Mr President (Muhammadu Buhari),
CORONA VIRUS PANDEMIC: A CALL TO LOCK DOWN NIGERIA FOR 2 WEEKS.
Permit me, Your Excellency, to skip the traditional salutation, in view of the dire exigency of the subject of my correspondence.
The first recorded Covid-19 case which involved an Italian citizen who entered the country on 24 February on a Turkish Airlines flight from Milan via Istanbul was supposed to cause us to have shut our borders.
Unfortunately, that was not done, until more cases were recorded from persons who flew into the country and their close contacts, so much so that Nigeria now lies at a precipice.
Truth is, we have far more cases than is officially recorded, ditto for deaths thereby.
Our best bet right now is to shut down Nigeria for two weeks in the first instance. By this, people will not move out of their houses and interstate travels will be prohibited, while all motorparks, rail stations and airports are shut down.
Our law enforcement agencies will need to see to the strict implementation of this stance.
The major challenge however is how Nigerians, many of who live on daily income generation will survive total confinement to their homes, away from their sources of income during this period.
Transparency International’s analysis of 29 state budgets (no data exists for seven states) reveals they spend an average of $580 million (N208.8 billion) in total each year on security votes, while the Federal Government’s security votes average over $50 million (N18 billion) annually.
Your Excellency, I suggest that the state governments should deploy a substantial portion of these sums to each family in their various states, while the federal government supplements same accordingly, so that each family gets twenty thousand naira weekly, equalling fourty thousand naira for the two weeks of the total lockdown.
These sums should be disbursed over the next three days to the 40 million Nigerians with BVN, while alternative arrangements are made to reach those without BVN, so that they can buy foodstuffs to cushion the effect of the two weeks lockdown
On the long run, this Corona virus pandemic has thrown up the need to give utmost attention to the health sector, by funding government-owned health institutions and giving incentives to private hospitals to build world class facilities, so that Nigerians will have no more need to travel out for medicare.
Currently, the Association of Resident Doctors, FCT chapter has embarked on a strike action over unpaid salaries. This unfavourable work condition of health workers is not peculiar to the FCT, as it resonates across the nation.
Meanwhile the US Department of States – Bureau of Consular Affairs has only yesterday issued a release, encouraging medical professionals seeking to work in the United States on a work or exchange visitor, particularly those working to treat or mitigate the effects of COVID-19, to reach out to the nearest embassy or consulate to request a Visa appointment.
Last year, the 1st Vice President of the Nigerian Medical Association revealed that about 700 medical practitioners leave Nigeria annually. This situation is set to get worse at this critical time that we need them more, moreso with this recent overture by the United States of America.
The majority of this problem could be resolved by way of full implementation of the National Health Act.
It is also important that the National Identity Card project be revisited, devoid of political colouration, with the goal of ensuring that every Nigerian has a National Identity Number (NIN) as this will make documentation and planning seamless.
Your Excellency, we have lost grounds by failing to shut our borders at the confirmation of the index case on 24th February, causing the number of confirmed cases to rise to 70, while searching for 4,370 contacts as at today.
This is the reason why we must take drastic and far reaching measures now, lest the situation gets out of hands.
Permit me to humbly appeal that provision be made for testing centres in every state capital in Nigeria, as against the current situation where we have only five laboratories with the capacity to test for coronavirus to serve its population of around 200 million citizens.
The labs are:
NCDC National Reference Laboratory, Abuja.
Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, Edo.
Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Lagos.
African Center of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Disease, Osun.
Nigeria Institure for Medical Research, Lagos.
This will make the process of diagnosis faster and less cumbersome, thereby increasing the chances of survival of Nigerians.
Your Excellency, while some of our privileged citizens have responded to calls made for aids by donating handsomely to the course of fighting the Covid-19 virus, it is expedient that proper accounting be made in the coming days on how these monies are spent and published for all to see, as many Nigerians are already entertaining fears that the donated funds may end up in private pockets.
As a devout Muslim, I very well know that you’re not oblivious of the place of prayers in the affairs of mankind, moreso for a pandemic that has hit medical science below the belt.
To this end, I implore you to declare a three days fasting and prayers nationwide, that all Nigerians across religious lines go into their closet and cry unto the Maker of Heavens and Earth for the redemption of our dear nation.
Finally, I humbly appeal to you, on behalf of the Nigerian masses, to make it a point of duty to address the nation regularly in these trying times, as to allay anxieties and give Nigerians hope.
Your Excellency, I humbly appeal that you take a cursory look at the issues I’ve raised in this letter, that history may be kind to you.
I thank you profusely so for your time and in anticipation of your prompt action.
Dr Thomas-Wilson Ikubese.”
*Former Presidential Aspirant,
*Convener, YesWeFit Movement