Edo Party Primaries and Concern for the Aged
Yesterday, June 17, 2020, Nigeria recorded the highest number of Covid-19 infections for one day. Available statistics suggest that although the government’s management of the pandemic has been relatively fair, vis a vis our warm weather conditions, the number of cases and deaths have not yet peaked. It is still going to take weeks/months before we peak and then begin to flatten the curve, and this timeline would vary slightly from state to state.
Fortunately, with each passing week, more credible research information is released that helps governments and health officials to understand and tackle the pandemic more effectively. Of particular concern is our elderly. Over 70% of Covid-19 related deaths are attributed to those 60 years and older. This cannot be divorced from the fact also that that age group represents the majority of those that, over time, have developed one form of health challenge or the other.
Across several developed countries, the poor handling of the spread of the dreaded virus among the aged in nursing homes led to a high percentage of deaths to the point where their highly advanced health infrastructure almost collapsed. This has made responsible governments to sensitize the public on the need to keep the elderly ones protected so as to limit morbidity.
Although the peculiar case of Edo State seems to be gaining more attention recently due to the pervading heated political circumstance, we must all remember that health comes before politics. The overall safety of the polity cannot be compromised on the altar of politics.
Worthy of commendation is the Governor of Edo State who has mostly been proactive in pulling the weight of the state government in fighting the scourge. Notwithstanding the fact that Edo State was one of the first states to record an index case, Governor Obaseki, in restricting the spread of the ravaging virus, was very strategic in not ordering a total lockdown. This is because while there is a pandemic to contain, the interest of Edo people remains paramount. Instead of enforcing seemingly excessive regulations, like some other state governors, the Edo State governor deployed the state’s resources in applying a multi-faceted approach at protecting the lives of the people.
It is on record that Edo State has been one of the most effective in screening and testing for infected cases. Only a handful of states can boast of a minimum of three testing centres, and Edo is one. In being proactive, governor Obaseki has also established isolation centres across the state and has repeatedly received commendation from the federal government and the NCDC.
Mr. Ehanire, the Nigeria’s Minister of Health, during an inspection visit to the recently commissioned 300-bed isolation centre in Stella Obasanjo Hospital in Benin, said, “I am here to assess the level of preparedness of the Edo State government in the fight against COVID-19.”
Minister Ehanire affirmed, “So far, Edo State has done well and even exceeded the target.”
In ensuring a balance between protecting lives and the general welfare of Edo people, Governor Obaseki also ensured that through the partial lockdown in the state, worship centres were not shut. Strictly enforced regulations were ordered so that as our people exercise their liberties and the need to express their faiths, the fight against the contagion was not jeopardized.
As much as Obaseki’s detractors attempt to politicize the governor’s efforts at curbing the pandemic, he has not chickened out and given-in to their manipulations. Leadership has to be brave and proactive and that has been the governor’s general approach. The political environment in Edo State is heating up and the activities heightening. This portends grave danger for the lives of the people and the joint effort to contain and end the pandemic. The increasingly-unabating numbers of high-profile cases and deaths among government officials and politicians make us appreciate that Covid-19 is not a respecter of persons.
The prevailing health and political challenges being experienced in Edo State has necessitated the issuing of a gazette by the governor against political gatherings. While some of his political opponents within the APC have issued directives that are tantamount to flouting the gazette, all other parties conducting gubernatorial primaries are trying to cooperate with the government so as not to jeopardize the fight against the pandemic and put lives at risk.
In Edo State, a lot of those who are passionate about participating in the electoral process are the elderly. When you look at the wards and councils, most of the community leaders are above 55 years of age. It will be sheer wickedness for any party to completely ignore the dangers that direct primaries portend for the polity and the aged.
Our health facilities are already heavily burdened. Most states do not even have the capacity to quarantine active Covid-19 cases anymore and have started advising self-isolation, while reserving the government isolation centres for those that exhibit severe symptoms. As the pandemic curve approaches its peak in Edo State, this is the time for even more caution, so that the sacrifices that the people have had to endure for over three months will not be compromised.
The Edo State government has repeatedly warned that the gazette regulating political gatherings will be enforced and that defaulters will face stiff penalties.
In a published statement, the Special Adviser to the Edo State Governor on Media and Communication Strategy, Mr. Crusoe Osagie, in emphasizing the government’s position, stated, “We are warning persons intent on rubbishing the gains made in curtailing the spread of Covid-19 and compromising our healthcare system to be assured that the full weight of the law would run its cause.”
As concerned and responsible citizens of Edo State, we hope that the government keeps to its word.