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Niger Delta leaders, ICPC set for showdown over NDDC staff

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The Niger Delta leaders and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) may be heading for showdown over the interrogation of senior management staff of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

Notable leaders in the region, under the aegis of the Niger Delta Leaders Forum (NDLF) on Friday described the action of ICPC as a distraction.

Addressing journalists in Port-Harcourt, the spokesperson of the NDLF, Chief John Harry, described the invitation of NDDC officials by ICPC as unnecessary and ill-motivated.

Chief Harry, who was flanked by Akwa-Ibom, Cross Rivers, Abia, Rivers, Imo, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo and Ondo representatives, condemned the interrogation of the Commission’s workers.

The leaders praised the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Chief Godswill Akpabio for redefining leadership in the region, sanitizing NDDC, decentralizing the functions of NDDC, finding solutions to the problems confronting the region and bringing the Commission closer to the ideals for which it was established.

“Chief Godswill Akpabio is the most positive Minister in the Niger Delta region.”

Specifically, the leaders commended Akpabio for the sense of independence in the interventionist agency.

“The approach of ICPC is bound to result in conflict with the mandate of the Interim Management Committee and the Act setting up the Commission. It is in every sense witch hunting.”

The leaders accused ICPC of disrupting the progress of the region.

“What ICPC has done now is sabotage of the forensic agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari. The Interim Management Committee is a panacea for the region’s problem, IMC’s problem is understandable. Some politicians want to control the Commission. The idea of a minister who is not controlled by them is unthinkable.”

They urged President Buhari to ignore the antics of mischief makers and pecuniary seeking elements that are all out to bring down the minister and the IMC.

“There has been well oiled machinery by enemies of progress and failed politicians to bring down Akpabio and the Interim Management Committee.  Those frustrated by the achievements recorded by the IMC are using ICPC against the Commission” the leaders said.

 

Credit: Ebireri Henry Ovie

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COLUMNISTS

PENDULUM: What President Buhari Must Do for Legacy

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www.securenigeria365.com

PENDULUM BY DELE MOMODU         dele.momodu@thisdaylive.com

Fellow Nigerians, I’m aware that many of us have given up on President Muhammadu Buhari changing his modus operandi. I won’t blame anyone for arriving at such decision. After spending over five years in power, we can only await a miracle of volcanic proportions to alter this perfidious drift towards cataclysmic perdition into which the President is leading us. There are not many human beings as lucky as a man once known as Major General Muhammadu Buhari, who was Nigeria’s military Head of State, from 1984-85, and who is now the civilian President, from 2015 until, hopefully, 2023.

No one could have asked for a better grace of such a second chance from God, particularly as he had contested for the same post three times between 2003 and 2011 and had not been third time lucky! By the time fortune smiled upon him at his fourth attempt, some of us had been led to place a halo above his head and even give him Messianic qualities such that we had great expectations of him in 2015. Even those who never liked him were definitely willing to grant him the benefit of the doubts. Such had his profile and stocks risen in those halcyon days when the mere mention of Jonathan’s name was anathema to many Nigerians.

Except for those enjoying a binge under this government at this moment , and there are a few, which is the story for another day, it is obvious that this is not what we bargained for. In case the President casually dismissed former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s latest diatribe against him, since there is the popular belief that there is no love lost between them and that they have since ceased to enjoy any semblance of cordial relationships between them, I pray he won’t ignore that of Lt. General Alani Ipoola Akinrinade. My reason is simple. I remember how the former Chief of Defence Staff, gave a passionate support to Buhari during the “fake certificate saga”, insisting that there was no way Buhari would have forged examination results in those good old days. Akinrinade was willing and ready to risk his towering reputation for a man he believed was a complete officer and gentleman. If such a man appears to be sorely disappointed today, I will beg Buhari not to dismiss this military and political colossus, one of Africa’s greatest military officers, as a “wailing wailer”, as his handlers are wont to describe his critics. I have known and followed Lt. General Akinrinade for over 40 years and I have found in him a disciplined gentleman, the embodiment of the typical English, Sandhurst trained military officer who is not prone to frivolities.

Akinrinade did something that is common to Yoruba elders, when they want to send a message to someone that is not likely to listen. They talk in the presence of his children. He therefore sent a powerful message to Buhari on the occasion of General Tukur Y. Buratai, Chief of Army Staff’s visit to Osun State. Akinrinade’s speech was a masterpiece and I’m not surprised it went viral. He started with all the niceties, a gentleman will deploy before dropping his bombshell. No one could have anticipated the salvos that would soon follow from Lt. General Akinrinade who is soft-spoken and has an innocent almost cherubic and amiable mien and disposition. Behind that façade is concealed the hard flint and steel of a consummate and phenomenally successful soldier and administrator. A fearless warrior, not known for tact or diplomacy when he is galled or angered, Akinrinade’s intelligence and intellectual prowess is also well known. All these qualities were on display in the passionate speech that he made at the occasion. Permit me to quote copiously from this eloquent Nigerian elder statesman.

“… Please, grant me the indulgence to mention to him one or two matters that throw me into distress because of my association with him. The first is his pervasive belief that he is an ethnic bigot, an irredeemable religious fundamentalist, that he firmly subscribes and the possibility of his ethnic Fulani to take over the country, the reason he does not interfere in curbing the brigandage of the Fulani herdsmen, that he has performed woefully in the fight against the terrorist Boko Haram and that he cannot rise to reflecting the heterogeneous composition of our country when it comes to appointments to sensitive positions in his government. The whole buck stops on his table…
“Let me suggest to him that he needs to shape up, read the riot act to our people, enlist them in unswerving cooperation to participate fully in the redemption of their country. Arms and brutal force are not sufficient to defeat an insurgency.

“I am sure he is aware of the hue and cry from all corners and crannies of our country for secession as if we have not been there before. He needs to stand on his table against the motley (sic) crowd of advisers surrounding him and take a firm stand on the reorganization of our country, physically, economically and socially. What we simply term as reorganization in the Armed Forces is what the bloody civilians call RESTRUCTURING (emphasis his). It is long overdue and flogged, as if it is such an impossibility, an attempt at which, will balkanize the country. As a matter of fact, it is what is required to move the country out of the doldrums into modernity. He cannot afford to pass it on. We may end up without a country, as no country has been known to survive two civil wars.
“He can take better counsel in the appointments to the sensitive parts of government. There are capable and loyal men and women from every village in the country.

“We are regaled everyday with blood chilling stories of killings and pillaging of villages sometimes towns in the North and Central parts of Nigeria, and of recent talks of impending massacres and intensification of kidnapping coming our way in the Southern States and the main protagonists of the disturbance is the Fulani herdsmen…
“I suggest to him to read the riot act to the Fulani herdsmen, that it is not acceptable for any foreigner by whatever name called to enter our country illegally and molest our people. They are not welcome. We should not, by mistake of omission or commission allow our people to degenerate to self-help. It is a sure road to anarchy and perdition, which will not go away…”

I hope President Buhari somehow read that message, if General Buratai felt too intimidated to deliver it to him personally. If perchance he has not read it, I hope he would have the opportunity to do so today since as he himself told me, he is an avid reader of newspapers. It is my fervent prayer that the President finds time to digest this abridged version today and ponder and reflect upon it. I believe he needs to do so by all means, but if he decides to be obstinate, he will appreciate it in the future, that Akinrinade was not one of his real or imagined enemies but a true friend. Only reliable and dependable friends can tell truth to power in a country where most people live and die on government largesse.

Just yesterday, I came across the latest distressing news of promotions in the Nigerian Customs. It allegedly follows the now familiar pattern of promotions for northern elements to the detriment of their southern counterparts. I simply refused to believe the story. If true, then it is time to tell the President that this recklessness, this disdain for the rest of the country must stop. Even if some Nigerians are seen and treated as slaves, things should not be this provocative. The amount of accumulated bitterness and bile in the land may be insignificant to those in power but it is dangerously growing, and the people are simmering with discontent.
Nigerians now live in perpetual strife. Is the Commander-in-Chief not aware of this fact? If he is not, because he is living in a gilded cage, surely his advisers and confidants are. Certainly, they must be able to tell their principal and benefactor about how dire things have become in the country. Or are they all so blinded by the filthy lucre that is being amassed that none of them can see reason or sense or hear the plaintive cries of their oppressed and suppressed fellow citizens. Whatever the situation may be, this is the biggest challenge facing the President. It is one which he must confront head on… Luckily for him, of all the problems that he is beset with, this is the easiest to tackle by him. All he needs is the will to do so as well as the willingness to see every Nigerian as part of one indivisible family. His catchy rallying cry and slogan at the beginning of his first term in 2015 will do well to be remembered by him. At that time, he had pontificated that “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody”! Sadly, this has proven to be far from being the case. The President has shown undisguised bias for, and favouritism in respect of a, people from the core northern part of the country and those of the same Islamic faith as him. The President seems to be intolerant of others. He is accused of being so discriminatory and partisan, but he seemingly shrugs off these accusations as if they were water off a duck’s back.

My second worry is about the youths of Nigeria. They require greater attention than they are getting right now. If our various arms of governments can substantially reduce their wasteful profligacy, some money can be freed to cater for the long-suffering masses and their children. I cringe, and I am moved to tears when I hear the criminally insane sums that is claimed to have been spent on providing cash palliatives to our indigent fellow citizens in this COVID-19 season. No proper records exist for the disbursement of the humongous sums being bandied about by our top government functionaries . . . It is easy to distribute the cash in readily accountable ways that can easily be checked and verified. However, this government likes to do things the complicated way and give room for graft and daylight robbery, thus eroding any faith and confidence that the public had that it would champion the fight against corruption and root out corrupt elements that are polluting the polity.

Creating employment opportunities to pacify the restive youths cannot be as tough as it seems. One way of doing so which will also solve another of our major problems is to encourage an agricultural revolution. We have arable land almost everywhere. We have energetically hardworking men and women. We have brilliant, intelligent and ambitious citizens. All they need is a little push and incentive. Beyond Government, those in the private sector can be of additional help. Some Nigerians I know started business with as little as five thousand Nigeria and the businesses have grown in leaps and bounds. We are a hardworking, imaginative, innovative and creative people. God has blessed us with people with flair and aptitude that only need to be graciously supported in just even small measure.

In a similar vein, Nigeria must invest heavily in vocational education. This would equip our young ones and make them more efficient and employable. We need to invest in Sports by providing training centres, kits and coaches. Nigeria is blessed with raw talents who need to be polished and moulded for global opportunities. Same can be done in the area of entertainment. It won’t take too much to invest in studios and music facilities. Our movie, music, comedy industries can absorb thousands, if not millions, of our people. Fashion is one of the sectors we need to develop urgently. I love the huge investment of the Cross River State Government in industrial garment and sewing companies. We cannot forget the impact of food and beverage. Let’s invite the experts in these fields to brainstorm and back them up with funding. We will be surprised at the result of such an exercise. Research is the way forward for any country seeking to attain any success or development. Unfortunately, in Nigeria funding for research is sorely lacking both from government and the private sector. Our universities and tertiary institutions are no more than glorified secondary schools with science laboratories rather than well equipped research centres which we really require.

Until we sort out the imbalances in our educational sector and deal with those things that are crucial and necessary for national growth and development we will only belong in the playground for little boys, playing with toys made for us by the big men who are making giant strides in all that they aspire to, whilst we remain content with the toys, sweets and pats on the head that we get from them on the few occasions that they deign to cast their glances our way. This is not the Nigeria of the dreams of our forefathers and ancestors.
Nigeria is an industrial powerhouse waiting to explode positively if some of us can be less selfish and greedy… That is the Nigeria that should be bursting to celebrate its diamond jubilee in a couple of weeks, not the caricature of a nation that we have now. The President undertook to lead us to this promised land. He can redeem himself in the short space of time left in his tenure and ensure a positive legacy for himself and a bright future for the country…

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COLUMNISTS

Plot to Derail the Eastern Rail Modernization, Eze Pleads with Clark

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Some concerned political strategists are wondering why any outsider seeking to destroy any emerging political leader from the Niger Delta would sit back and easily find willing Niger Deltans to do the job.

Now, the National Publicity Secretary of the defunct New People’s Democratic Party (nPDP) and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, a media consultant and political strategist, has appealed to the PANDEF (pan Niger Delta Elders Forum) leader and former Federal Commissioner for Information, Chief Edwin Kiagbado Clark, to jettison the call on the Federal Government to reverse the naming of the Agbor Railway Station Complex after Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.

Eze stressed that the ex-President is satisfied and has already expressed gratitude to President Mohammadu Buhari and the Transportation Minister, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, for the honour done to him.

In a statement made available to media houses, Eze said, if icons like Obafemi Awolowo, Dr Alex Ekweme and other great leaders could be named after some of the railway stations, then ex President Dr. Jonathan, a pride of the Eastern region, is eminently qualified and entitled for the honour and it will be unfair to attempt to discredit it for any reason whatsoever.

Eze wondered why it is only Dr Jonathan whose naming is generating furore whereas it is the same Dr Jonathan that started the railways revolution dream and actually started the project with the structure we have today. He reminded the critics that great scientists name viruses and germs after themselves just because they discovered them.

He further pointed out that in currency naming, it is faces on small bills that are regarded as more important because most people would touch and see it daily than the higher denominations. He noted that the number of people that would see Jonathan’s name per day at a railways station would be far more than those that would see it at an international airport or international hotel.

Eze also reminded the latter-day towncriers for Dr Jonathan that the same Jonathan presented himself as a lover of the common people by creating a campaign brand of the boy from Otueke without a shoe, the son of a canoe man. He thus wondered what is belittling to such a boy ending up with his name inscribed in one of the key Railway Stations in Nigeria. He argued that naming him after a train station would not stop him from getting more honours as President Muhammadu Buhari has been sending him on special missions abroad, thereby ingratiating Dr Jonathan’s name in the minds of the international community more than any former President of Nigeria.

The party chieftain therefore called on Chief Clark to pay a detailed attention to more critical issues of common concern and channel his energies to mobilise stakeholders to raise a voice against the artful scheme to satanically deprive the Eastern region the divine opportunity of linking her to other parts of the country through modern rail.

He said events have clearly revealed the existence of a cabal, a group of unconscious and conscienceless mortals, with a sworn mandate to scuttle every effort of the federal government at developing the South-South and South East regions and with a term of reference to frustrate the Eastern rail line project which he said will meaningfully impact the lives and livelihoods of the people and significantly add to the economies of states.

He wants Clark to think about why eastern ports remained dead over the decades and decide if such was a mere accident or a design by a group to ensure that the economy of the eastern region remained dead and continue to feed from another region. The strategy reminded people of the former eastern region to know that politics is another form of war with the same results.

Using Niger Deltans against Niger Delta

Eze lamented that more sickening is the very disturbing fact that Hon. Ossai Nicholas Ossai, the lawmaker representing the good people of Ndokwa/Ukwani Federal Constituency of Delta State and Chairman, House Committee on Treaties, Protocols and Agreements, has been conscripted to do the bidding against his own people.

He called on stakeholders of South South and South East to rise up, lend their voices against the common adversaries and react with the timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people.

Recall that the Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi had expressed shock that Ossai could be hounded on a project that would be of immense benefit to him and his constituents thus:

“It was apparent that the Chairman of the Committee  investigating the ‘Loan from China’, Hon. Nicholas Osai, was determined to deny the people of the South-South and the South East the opportunity to be connected by rail”.

Chief Eze said the moronic carriage of Hon. Ossai in recent times reflected in the expression of the Minister is good proof that the Delta-born lawmaker and his snooping paymasters are hellbent on impeding the efforts of the administration of President Buhari to fulfil his campaign pledge  of giving the country a durable and modern rail system.

Eze said it is a wasteful venture for Hon. Osai of the PDP and his band of misguided elements, to think that halting the loan and stopping the rail project would undermine the political future of Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, whom he said has served the country meritoriously with astonishing results. He called on the group sponsoring Ossai to be cautious of their actions, stressing that the grand conspiracy to make nonsense of Amaechi’s towering and intimidating political records, by faltering his thoughtful infrastructural programmes in the rail sector, will definitely meet its waterloo. He wondered why there was no noise when the PDP and Dr Jonathan initiated loans for rails years back even when the APC was in virile opposition. “Why would it be now that the APC is dutifully implementing and expanding it that the same APC with their PDP cohorts are mad against a railway programme?”

To demonstrate Ossai’s lopsided gait in his Committee’s investigation, he had to embarrass members by disallowing them from making contributions as he was severally seen cutting them off, insisting that he was in charge.  “You are a co-opted member. You cannot guide me”, Ossai had shouted down on a member.

Eze said attempts by Wole Oke to guide the process to ensure a rancour-free exercise was rebuffed by Ossai who ruled him out of order.

The party chief expressed concern that if Osai and his co-travellers are not called to order, they may succeed in frustrating both the Port Harcourt – Enugu- Maiduguri Rail line, including the Lagos/Calabar rail project because the probe, according to him, passes a wrong signal and erodes the confidence of the lending sovereign in the seriousness of Nigeria in the loan deal.

Eze expressed shock that a parliament with the All Progressives Congress in the majority could allow few members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party to continue to frustrate and embarrass the APC-led federal government for frivolous and mean reasons.

“We know what most of us suffered and risked to get this government on board and we can’t continue to watch very few misguided elements to frustrate the good intentions and policies of the administration of President Buhari to right the wrongs of PDP just because they want to achieve a diabolical and evil agenda. Speaker of the House, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, must call his men to order”, Eze said.

The party Chief urged the constituents of Hon. Osai to, as a matter of urgency, set in motion the necessary processes needed to recall the erring lawmaker for compromising and selling out his people, describing his actions as disgraceful to the people of Ndokwa/Ukwani Federal Constituency of Delta State, on whose mandate he rode to a saboteur at the detriment of his legislative assignment.

 

Buhari, Great Indeed

In a separate development, following the approval of President Mohammadu Buhari to name some of the newly-built railway stations after some notable Nigerians; a gesture described by many as rare within the traits of political elites, Chief Eze, has joined people of goodwill to commend the Nigerian leader for his display of exceptional magnanimity, benevolent interest and deep concern in the unity and development of the Nigerian state.

The APC stalwart said President Buhari has continued to awe Nigerians and flaw naysayers, especially, critics of the APC-led federal government in his pragmatic approach in administering the concerns of the nation with tremendous results.

Commending the President for his goodwill, Eze described the Transportation Minister as not only an elixir to the very many infrastructural deficits and severe dearths in the critical sectors of the nation’s economy, but also a patriot and prominent integrator whose rare leadership mien is a panacea for trans-regional  cooperation and national unity.

The party stalwart said the stations at Apapa, Ebute Metta, Agege, Agbado, Kajola, Papalanto, Abeokuta, Olodo, Amio-Adio, Ibadan and the Operations Control etc, were named after former Lagos Governor, Ahmed Tinubu, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Obafemi Awolowo, Prof. Wole Soyinka, Alex Ekwueme, Segun Osoba, Ladoka Akintola, Lateef Jakande, Babatunde Fashola and others.

Recall that a similar gesture was earlier extended to former President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, when the President okayed the naming of one of the major railway stations after him. This was confirmed by the former Nigerian President during a chat with Journalists after a brief meeting with President Mohammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, August, where he commended the President and the Transportation Minister, Rotimi Amaechi for the honour done to him.

Felicitating with the Nigerian Patriots after whom the modern railway stations were named, the party chief appealed to them to see the gesture as a call to unity and national development, stressing that the country can achieve even greater when leaders place the interest of a greater number of citizens beyond self.

 

Amaechi, a Born Achiever

Evenly, Eze expressed satisfaction over the record of achievements of the Transportation Minister in other key components of the transportation sector especially, Ports and Maritime sub-sectors where remarkable achievements have been made in securing the nation’s territorial waters and enhancing economic  activities through trans-national trade and commerce which has added significantly to the national economy.

Chief Eze encouraged Rt. Hon. Amaechi to remain committed in delivering outstanding results for the common good, maintaining that Nigerians hold him in high esteem and will continue to relish his unique pace-setting leadership standards to bring succour to national concerns.

The party chief called on Nigerians to continue to support President Mohammadu Buhari-led federal government and especially the Transportation Minister, whose drive to provide the basic and critical elements needed for a proper functioning of a modern society is unwavering and contagious.

He assured that the President Mohammadu Buhari-led federal government is vastly composed of very competent and result-oriented  patriots and nationalists whose desire for an all-sphere transformed Nigeria is yielding results through real work.”

Chief Eze regretted the habit of party men attempting to pull their best eleven down just for personal interest that would perish the moment the party crashes. He however made it clear that great are men who succeed despite the gang-up of many of those around them. He pointed to Amaechi as a born example of such a brand of greatness; those born to defy all odds to make a change. The losers are those who try to destroy such men; whether they succeeded or not because prosperity would stand judgment against such men as it is happening in Rivers State today.

Signed: Chief Eze ChukPlot to Derail the Eastern Rail Modernization, Eze Pleads with Clark  wuemeka Eze

 

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Back on the beat, after defeating COVID-19

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By: Gboyega Akosile                                                             

Thank God I am back at my duty post! I returned to work today, Wednesday, August 5, 2020 after several weeks away, battling the monstrous Coronavirus.

It began with a feverish condition on Wednesday, July 1, 2020. I usually don’t joke with my health so I stopped at a pharmacy on my way home, got an anti malaria drug with some paracetamol and I used it as recommended.

I must state here that I have never completed a full dose of any malaria treatment or drugs before getting back on my feet in my adult life, never! In fact, you would have to remind me sometimes before taking my drugs because I would have felt well after taking the second dose. This time, I completed the malaria medicine yet there was no improvement. By Thursday (July 2) evening and Friday (July 3) morning, my health condition had started to deteriorate. The feelings gradually moved from headaches to severe body pains and cold. Same day, I had a responsibility to organize a media briefing for my boss. I didn’t raise the alarm just yet because everybody was wary of everyone else, especially if you showed any signs of illness. But the truth is I was sick, terribly sick.

I told my wife on Thursday evening that there was a need for us to get tested for COVID-19. I convinced her that we needed to clear all doubts. She understood clearly, knowing it may not be out of place that I had been exposed to the virus, especially now that Lagos was experiencing rise in community spread.

We drove straight to the Yaba Infectious Diseases Hospital on Friday morning and in less than an hour; the very efficient Lagos health workers in charge of sample collection and testing attended us to.

Although he was not ill and showed no signs of COVID-19, I encouraged my driver to join us for the test. We left for Marina to continue with the day’s official activities. While Mr. Governor was briefing and responding to questions from journalists, I stood there on the beautifully tendered State House lawn shaking from within. I could feel that my legs were wobbling from inside my bone marrow. Not even the beauty of the grass, which I usually admire, could calm the way I felt.

I remember how much I tried to keep more than two metres away from some colleagues who had come to me for some clarifications on issues or points raised by Mr. Governor. Since I was not sure of my status, I needed to take responsibility by ensuring that nothing was discharged into the atmosphere from my side.

I waited till the end of the press conference, managed to move towards my boss but ensured that I didn’t move close to him. In that socially distanced position, I informed him of my state of health and his response was direct, “have you gone for another test?” He asked because he had mandated his entire close aides to go for COVID-19 test on two or three occasions. He has also done the test repeatedly, just for everyone to feel safe around the office. I answered him in the affirmative, “yes sir, I just did this morning. Results should be out on Sunday.” He then said I should go home for a couple of days. I thanked him and I left the State House.

No sooner had I left the State House than the real symptoms started in fearful proportion. To be honest, I was scared. I had never felt that way before in my entire life. Driving from Marina to Ikeja felt like travelling from Lagos to New York. The vibrations and other bodily pains I experienced that day can’t be described here. I rolled from one end of the vehicle to another. All I remember was my driver’s voice, saying “epele sir (sorry sir)”. It was excruciating! By the time we got home, my eyes had turned red, with the retinal looking the other way. My wife took over immediately as the resident nurse. She was scared too but she summoned the courage and took charge. She insisted we went to the hospital. We did. I told the doctor that I had gone for COVID-19 test but he said he would place me on another round of malaria treatment.

I took some shots that evening, repeated them on Saturday morning and evening. I went again on Sunday morning but there was no remarkable improvement. By Sunday evening, our COVID-19 test results were sent to me via email. My worst fear stared at me in the face; we all tested positive for Coronavirus – my wife, driver and I. I immediately called my driver to inform him. Clearly he was asymptomatic because as at that time and up till the time of writing this piece, he had no symptoms. Life has been normal for him. Nonetheless, I insisted that he should self-isolate at home for 14 days and not go about infecting other people.

I duly informed my principal and then called my direct boss, Mr. Tayo Ayinde, the Chief of Staff to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who immediately made arrangements for my treatment. The doctors called in and asked that we isolate at home. They tutored me on all the protocols, most of them I was already familiar with, having been part of the communication team on Lagos State Government’s response to COVID-19.

Case management started and in two days, I had lost my sense of smell, taste and every symptom that comes with COVID-19 had fully manifested in me. Trust me, it was not a particularly pleasant experience.

In eight to nine days of medication, the initial pains and discomfort started to disappear. I began to experience a new lease of life. My SPO2, which is a small device used in checking the flow of oxygen in a patient’s system was back to normal. BP was good and body temperature returned to normal. This time, I could attend to work related issues. I started working from home.

Recall that three of us tested positive and one was asymptomatic. My wife too showed some symptoms from Monday, July 5, so she was placed on same medication. While I improved, her condition took a downward turn; her oxygen level was below the acceptable limit of 95! At first, it fluctuated between 90 and 94; sometimes it would hit 95 so I was hopeful. Her Blood Pressure was also irregular. The value was inconsistent; sometimes good, at another time bad.

On Tuesday, July 14, her SPO2 went down to 88! That was when it dawned on everyone that she had to be evacuated to an isolation centre. She was taken to the Onikan centre, where she received some of the best treatment that COVID-19 patients in the United States of America are looking for. I don’t get scared easily by anything or situation. This time, I was very scared. I thought the worst phase of my life had come when after three days of her admission, she had not responded well to the treatment. She neither called home nor picked her phone. Everyone was worried.

Thanks to the Lagos State Government, the Ministry of Health, the health workers; doctors, nurses and drivers, among others who ensured that my wife, like all the other patients that were brought in under very terrible conditions returned home with joy.

After spending five days, we started to connect again via video calls.

Since I was not in the isolation centre, the closest was when I took her birthday cake there for a symbolic celebration; I could only rely on her experience, which she described as wholesome.

I decided to touch on my wife’s experience to draw attention to the fact that people do not necessarily die of COVID-19. You lose people to complications from underlining ailments. Unknown to us, my wife had a silent case of pneumonia and had some blood clot related issues. And since she had not fallen sick, these conditions never manifested in any form. Everyone in the house appeared healthy and truly so until the COVID-19 incident.

It is very important to conduct comprehensive medical checks, even if it is once in a year. If we had known this earlier, perhaps our experience would have been less traumatic when COVID-19 came calling.

Without sounding immodest, Lagos State Government is a model State on the COVID-19 response in Africa. Special thanks to Mr. Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu who built excess capacity in readiness for the pandemic. This has helped the State to manage the effects of the pandemic since it broke out.

COVID-19 is not a hoax, it’s very real. Use your face mask  wash your hands regularly, use sanitizer and please keep to the social distance protocols.

Now I am back on the beat, what have I missed?

Akosile is the Chief Press Secretary to the Lagos State Governor.

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