OPINION: Hide And Seek Game On Ebola: The Deadly Criminal Incompetence And Negligence Of Kwara State Government. By Abubakar Baba Sulaiman

Date: 2014-08-16

Let me start this piece by informing you all, most regrettably, that the 7 months old baby that was rushed to a private hospital at Olorunshogo area of Ilorin, Kwara state capital on the suspicion of being an ebola patient is dead. The baby died yesterday (Friday, 15th August) at Sobi specialist hospital, Ilorin. I'm going to tell you how he died.

The saving grace is that the cause of the death is not Ebola. However, the attendant scare that trailed the saga was really a good wake up call and an eye-opener to the criminal lies, incompetence and negligence of the state government against the collective well-being of Kwarans. Their claims that they have all the facility on the ground as precautionary measure to tackle the scourge is to say the least, a good ground to charge them for war crime.

Before now, the state government had made us to believe that all is ready to tackle any incidence of the disease, having created an isolation centre at Sobi Specialist Hospital, Ilorin. In its usual politicisation of governance, the state government set up of one Committee called " Ebola Viral Disease Control Committee" chaired by one Prof. Sunday Opabola, supposedly the SA to the governor on Public Health.

Followed that was the press state by the Chairman assuring Kwarans that the State is prepared for any emergency and working hard to stem the spread of the disease if it ever entered the state at all. We were even assured that the quarantine centre is ready and well equipped with all the gadget needed including Personal Protective Equipment PPE, while they have placed order for the supply of the "machine" to test for the virus on patients.

As a concerned Kwaran, when you hear such rhetoric, you are likely going to kiss your bed good night and go to sleep, hanging your faith in the hands of what now looks like irresponsible government, dangerously but innocently assuming everything is under control.

However, if not for what some doctors now refer to as a "test case" on the preparedness of the state government, with respect to the late baby, who would have known that the lives of Kwarans and its residents are in great danger.

Now let me detail you on what happened. This unlucky child was first taken to a private hospital somewhere around Surulere area of Ilorin. The child was subsequently referred to another private hospital along Olorunshogo, which specialises in paediatrics (the branch of medicine that cares mainly for children). It is at this hospital that alarm was raised on the child suspected of being an ebola virus carrier.

In this current helpless situation, you can't rule out panicking even on the side of the medical practitioners. The condition of the poor boy was "critical" on arrival at the hospital. He carried virtually all the known symptoms of ebola; which before now, were equally similar to the ones we see in malaria patients, especially the chronic ones. For the fear of contracting the disease, virtually all the medical officers on ground were refusing to touch the patient (now deceased). The owner of the hospital (who ironically is a member of the Committee) had to call the officials of the state government to inform them of the situation.

The state government "immediately" swung into "action" and moved the "dying" boy to Sobi Specialist Hospital where they claim to have set up the quarantine centre.

This is where I'm going. It is sad to note that nothing whatsoever is on ground in the so called "isolation" centre. The poor boy was merely taken to the hospital to die. Most unfortunately also, all the medical officers, the designated nurses and doctors were afraid, so they ran away and left the hospital. They all abandoned the poor boy and eventually, the boy died.

The action of the medical officers may appear inhumane, that notwithstanding, considering the contagious capacity of the EVB, they are not expected to handle such "suspicion" with their bare hands putting their own lives at risk. Most of the people that have contracted the disease today, even those that wear PPE, are the doctors and nurses. So how else would you want them to react?

Of course, the innocent boy merely had malaria and he could have survived it if only there was proper education and equipment to quickly confirm his status and give him the right medical attention. While the boy needed desperate attention, not even a single medical centre in the state has right equipment to conduct the test. I wondered what is advanced in the inglorious Harmony Advanced Diagnostic Centre that they do not have this equipment. Disgracefully, the blood sample of the had to be taken to Lagos State Teaching Hospital to confirm the status of the boy. Though he tested negative to the disease, unfortunately however, so much time has been wasted and before they could come back to attend to the boy he was late.

It is disgusting, inhumane and criminal to imagine, despite the fact that the entire nation has been put on high alert on this deadly disease, our own state government, for close to a month since the first reported case has nothing on ground to deal with the outbreak. It is rather sad that the entire state has been awash with disturbing media propaganda, jingles here and there as if they are in possession of everything we need.

At this point, it is important to remind everyone, especially the state government of a yoruba adage that says "orun nya bo ni, ki shey oro enikan". It literally means, an impending calamity is not a single person's burden.

I said this in my first piece on Ebola that if there is any set of people that is equally highly vulnerable to this disease, it's the "high class" people like the state governors, etc. Often times and most frequently too, we are disturbed by their whirling siren disturbing our hearing, going here and there, commissioning or decommissioning "projects" in the bush and in villages, inspecting "ongoing" ones in town, supervising their "operation no pot holes" projects up and down, where do they even know these viruses are "cooling off" that they are probably thinking they are protected from it?

If tomorrow comes, campaigns would start and all of you would start to move from Baruten to Kaima via Share enroute Offa to return to Ilorin, who do you know among the crowd that would generously "donate" the EVB to you?

May I inform the readers that our fears weren't supposed to be and its never the reported case or the likely report of one in future (God forbids), but the unseriousness of the people saddled with the responsibilities to handle the situation for us.

These people are busy sponsoring jingles of personal ego lubrication, engaged with permanent voters' cards collection awareness campaign when there is fire on their roof. I can't just understand how these people think!

Glory be to God, the rumoured case was actually a false. Notwithstanding, God forbids a true situation, a true case of ebola in the state, only God knows how delicately vulnerable we are. As you read this, all the doctors in the state have held a crucial meeting and deliberated extensively on the situation in the State.

I can tell you authoritatively that they have all resolved to close down all the hospitals in the state, both private and public until the state government show some commitments and provide the needed equipment. At least, no new patients would be admitted into any hospital to be on the safer side.

Why in the name of God would these people be playing politics with everything, even when their own lives are at stake? How much more time do they need to get things done the right way? How much money do they need to get these equipment that they have not spent on frivolity in the last two weeks? Is the payment for their chattered flights more important to them than the lives of Kwarans? Are they telling us their larger than life leader's monthly pension is more important than the lives of millions of Kwarans that they can't "use" the money to buy these equipment on time if they are still wallowing in insolvency?

I know every Nigerian is flustered at this trial time. I also know they are earnestly waiting for the arrival, the use and the positive response of the newly supplied drug "Nanosilver" treatment drugs recently donated by a Nigerian scientist to "cure" this disease. My fear however is, would this same government stand up to it responsibility to do all it can to pro-actively get our portion from the Federal Ministry of health? So many questions begging for answers!

Ojo to nro to ko ida, Olohun l'omo iye eni ti yi pa. Ki Oluwa sho wa oh!



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