Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, Thursday said that every state of the federation would have its share of coronavirus. At present, 17 states are free of the virus which index case in the country was recorded in February. This came as Lagos and Kano recorded three deaths yesterday from the virus, with Lagos recording its 10th death and Kano its first. Meanwhile, Kano’s confirmed cases spiked from 12 to 21 yesterday.
Speaking, yesterday, on a Channels Television breakfast programme, Sunrise, Director-General of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, said there was no reason the virus would not spread to every state of the country, being a respiratory virus. He said the federal government was making efforts to curb the further spread of the disease, admitting that it had been a tough task. “We have responded to Lassa smoothly and nobody shut down the country because it wasn’t necessary, the response was fairly efficient.
“Now, COVID-19 is on a much larger scale, at the moment in 22 states, but it will grow to every state in Nigeria, there is no reason it won’t, it is a respiratory virus,” the NCDC boss said. He also reacted to the differences in the figures of confirmed COVID-19 cases released by the NCDC and the numbers in some states, especially in Lagos and Kano, adding that the agency had been working hard to tackle coronavirus while the authorities in various states had their roles to play. He insisted that Nigeria could not run away from the outbreak and that NCDC would continue to be transparent with the results, to stimulate more response from various aspects of the government.
The NCDC boss added: “We just activated the lab in Kano a few days ago. So, these are the results of the increased testing capacity that we are providing for the country. “The tests are fairly robust; I can’t say 100 per cent but they are as close to that as possible. We had the highest number of positive cases in a single day. “Since the onset of the outbreak, we are testing a lot more (and) that is beginning to show. It is only so much we can do from NCDC; we are working with the state governments. “They actually own the response at the state and local levels, and we need all of them now. We really have to face the reality that this is an outbreak, this is a virus. “It will circulate in Nigeria, absolutely no doubt and our responsibility as a country is to prepare more, to be able to detect, isolate, treat, list contacts, and stop transmission."
Meanwhile, for some days now, the polity has been awash with complaints over skewed distribution of palliatives including the Federal Government’s N20,000 conditional cash transfer scheme to the poorest and vulnerable households in the country to cushion the effects of the COVID-19 plague. According to a data from the National Cash Transfer Office, NCTO, Abuja as of April 9, five states – Lagos, Delta, Borno, Ogun, and Ebonyi were yet to benefit from the cash transfer. And among the 31 benefiting states including the Federal capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, the South-East and South-West states were the worse off with North-West states being the most favoured (see chart).
Based on the data so far 1, 126, 211 households are currently benefiting from the conditional cash transfer programme. The most favoured states include Katsina (133,227 households), Zamfara (130,764), Jigawa (99,044), Kano (84,148), Plateau (78,439), and Kebbi (76,026). The least favoured include Sokoto (3,165), Enugu (3,305), Ondo (3,812), and Ekiti (4,709). Taken on zonal basis, the North-West has 561,758 households receiving N20,000 cash transfers each totalling N11.235 billion. North-Central has 321,434 households (N6.429 billion); North-East, 109,442 households (N2.189 billion); South-South, 68,324 households (N1.367 billion); South-West, 37,904 households (N758.080 million); and South-East, 27,977 households (N559.540 million).
The cash transfer scheme, which is part of the Social Investment Programme (SIP) of the current administration is under the newly-created Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development and being superintended by the Minister, Sadiya Umar Farouq. Lagos is the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria and is one of the states that no household has benefited. Farouq had approved the immediate termination of the contract of two Payment Service Providers (PSPs) following their inability to meet the contractual agreement to commence Conditional Cash Transfer to beneficiaries in four states, namely Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, Abia and Zamfara. She said that that the Federal Government cannot accept delays in the current payment round of N20,000 stipends to beneficiaries under any excuses in the four states or any other state of the country.