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Don’t Politicize War Against COVID-19 in Anambra – C. Don Adinuba

Mr C. Don Adinuba, Commissioner of Information and Public Enlightenment, Anambra State

1.      On April 5, 2020, the Anambra State Government was compelled to issue a statement against the determination of a handful of politicians to politicize the state government’s effort to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in the state. The state government’s campaign against COVID-19 is to this day considered exemplary throughout Nigeria, with other sub national governments constantly called upon by independent bodies to  learn from the proactive measures which have resulted in the state recording only nine cases so far, despite the fact that our people travel extensively more than the people of any other state and that the state has some of the largest open markets in West Africa patronized daily by millions of people from all over West and Central Africa.
2.      It is regrettable that the handful of politically exposed persons have continued with the single-minded determination to politicize the Anambra State Government’s war against COVID-19. Officials of an opposition party have since yesterday been going to various mass media to lobby journalists to allege that the state’s recent establishment of the COVID-19 Task Forces in all 21 Local Government Areas (LGAs) and also in all 326 wards in Anambra State is tantamount to the setting up of election campaign councils for the gubernatorial election which will hold in November, 2021. 
3.      Following the immense success of the Anambra State Task Force on COVID-19 headed by Governor Willie Obiano, the government decided to establish a COVID-19 Task Force in each of the 21 LGAs in the state, with the Chairman of the Local Government Transition Committee as the Chairman while the head of the Health Department in the LGA, the Information Officer, the Disease & Surveillance Officer, an officer nominated by the Ministry of Health and a representative of the Civil Society Organisation as members. We are glad every other state government in Nigeria has taken a similar step.
4.       Anambra State has now become the first state to replicate the Task Forces in all the wards, made necessary by the need to check the spread of the contagion at the grassroots. Anambra and Lagos are among the states which have swung into the community search phase of the campaign against COVID-19.
5.      It is, therefore, immoral for any group of politicians to allege that the operation of the COVID-19 Task Forces in both the 21 LGAs and 326 wards is driven by the desire to win the 2021 governorship vote. In fact, the establishment of the COVID-19 Task Forces in the wards represents the full operationalization of the Primary Healthcare Centres since they were created in 1988 when Professor Olukoye Ransome-Kuti was the Minister of Health under the General Ibrahim Babangida military regime.
6.      For instance, the Ward Health Development Chairman, who will play a major role in the Task Force in each ward, is a creation of Nigeria’s Primary Healthcare Development Agency Act. The person must be an indigene of the community which nominates him or her and must be resident there. He or she liaises with community leaders like village heads on health issues on behalf of the community. As a member of the COVID-19 Task Force, the person is required to play a major role in reporting any stranger in the community or any member of the community who has been outside the state in the last 14 days or any community member who displays such symptoms as shortness of breath, high fever and constant sneezing.
7.       As Anambra becomes the first state in Nigeria to incorporate Primary Healthcare Centres in the strategy to combat COVID-19 by training PHC workers on the World Health Organization and Nigeria Centre for Disease Control protocols in dealing with the contagion, it richly deserves all the accolades it has been receiving for taking the campaign against COVID-19 to the grassroots. The attempt by some politically exposed persons to put the lives of millions of our people in the harm’s way by politicizing the community search phase of the fight is unconscionable. Neither the Anambra people nor even God will ever forgive such recklessness.
8.      Finally, so-called professional politicians in the state are reminded, once again, that it is absolutely immoral to work with so much determination to derail the ongoing battle against COVID-19 in the name of campaigning for an election which is one and a half years away.
Anambra State must remain the Light of the nation.
C. Don Adinuba
Commissioner for Information & Public Enlightenment.

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