… Test results for samples from Anambra State were negative; awaiting other results
… State completed two isolation centres and work progressing at a third centre
… Sharing of 200 bags of rice to elders in the state’s 181 communities to commence
… ANSG offers 10% relief to tax payers up to date in 2019
… Government also plans to distribute three million masks to residents
By Ndu Chris Nwannah with Pamela Henry-Igwe, ATM Guest Writers
It was probably, by its measure and symbolism, the equivalent of a Widow’s Mite. At the national level, mighty men of means and mega corporations have each made a billion-Naira donation or even more to the coronavirus relief effort. In Anambra State, too, donations are being made in the millions by major businesses and by fairly familiar figures. But an unknown Anambrarian, one Obinna Okechukwu Nwosu, felt motivated to add his own contribution. He pitched in with an earnest ₦3,000 ($7.80) – the price of an average meal in parts of Nigeria, or that of a quarter pounder hamburger at a McDonald’s in the US.
There was pride and a tremulous note in the voice of Willie Obiano, the governor of Anambra State, as he announced Mr. Nwosu’s contribution, along with those of other donors, in a broadcast he made on 2 April 2020 to provide updates on his administration’s effort to combat the coronavirus pandemic ravaging the global community.
Governor Obiano, emerging from his own self-isolation, announced that Anambra State remained free of Covid-19 contagion even as the virus appears to be gradually spreading elsewhere in Nigeria, including in neighbouring Enugu State, with which Anambra shares a lengthy boundary, where two cases have so far been confirmed by the Nigerian Centre Disease Control (NCDC). He said that six samples from the state had been submitted for tests, four of which he said had returned with negative results.
“My Commissioner for Health, Dr Vincent Okpala, has reliably informed me that at this moment in time, our dear state does not have a single recorded case of Coronavirus. Six samples have so far been sent for testing and four of the samples were declared negative. The results of the other two have not been released yet,” the governor said. He also announced that further samples had been sent for testing.
Governor Obiano explained what a test involves:
“Please note that samples are usually taken from what the experts call Case Description. [This] is a situation where an individual who has just returned from any of the countries and cities that have serious Covid-19 cases begins to show symptoms of Coronavirus… or a situation where someone who has come in contact with people suffering from Coronavirus begins to show symptoms of the pandemic.”
Governor Obiano gave the assurance that the state would continue with efforts to test suspected cases. According to him, “so, far, Anambra is safe. But we shall continue our efforts in testing to ensure that Coronavirus does not take us by surprise.”
The governor announced that two of the coronavirus isolation centres earlier set up in the state – one located at the NYSC Orientation Camp, Umuawulu/Mbaukwu and the other at the General Hospital Onitsha – had been fully equipped to cater for pandemic emergencies. He also noted that work was ongoing to fit out a third centre at Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu Teaching Hospital (previously Amaku General Hospital), Awka.
“We have successfully set up a 250-bed Isolation Center at the NYSC Orientation Camp in Mbaukwu/Umuawulu and another 16-bed Isolation Centre at the General Hospital Onitsha. By the Grace of God, I shall commission both centers tomorrow [April 3rd]. The Onitsha Isolation Centre has been described as one of the best in the country today. At the same time, the Isolation Center at Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital, Amaku-Awka is being fitted out to standard just in case we have an outbreak.”
The governor also recalled that two ‘Surge Centers’ had been set up at Ekwulobia General Hospital and Umueri General Hospital. These are facilities to accommodate overflow from the designated centres.
“Ndi Anambra,” Obiano enthused, “I am happy to announce that the Management of Fidelity Bank and the Management of Access Bank have both volunteered to equip the Surge Centers at Ekwulobia General Hospital and Umueri General Hospital with a 60-bed facility each that meets the World Health Organization standards on Coronavirus. I have been assured that both facilities shall be up and running within one week.”
Although pharmaceutical research is still going on worldwide to find the cure for coronavirus, Governor Obiano indicated that Anambra State government was ready with potentially helpful medication should the need rise for them.
“Ndi Anambra, learning from the experience of the approaches adopted by France and Lagos in battling this pandemic, we have stockpiled the medicines used in managing outbreaks in both places in case we experience an incident here.”
The governor said that a massive campaign was being carried out to sensitize the people on measures to guard against contracting the virus. He also noted that government had commenced the distribution of rice to the 181 communities in the area. The package is meant for only elderly people who are 70 years and above.
“Ndi Anambra, our response to the threat posed by the Covid-19 pandemic is multi-dimensional. We have mounted a massive awareness campaign on all media platforms to enlighten our people on the threat of Coronavirus. We have closed our boundaries with neighbouring states and shut down our 63 major markets in Anambra State to flatten the curve on this virus. We have set up Isolation Centers and equipped them with facilities that meet WHO [World Health Organization] standards. And finally, we have also rolled out an Economic Stimulus Package to cushion the effect of steps we have taken against the virus on the most vulnerable members of our communities. We have commenced the distribution of 200 bags of rice to each of the 181 communities in Anambra State to be distributed among our senior citizens from 70 years and above. In communities where we have more than 200 people within the specified age bracket, distribution shall start from the oldest to the youngest in the age bracket.”
In an earlier statement, the governor had called on the traditional rulers, Presidents-General (PGs) of town unions and Anambra State Association of Town Unions (ASATU) women leaders to quickly send their list of beneficiaries for rice distribution, which would be jointly signed by them, to the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs. Governor Obiano had indicated that communities that sent their list first would immediately receive their package.
In response to the governor’s call, the office of the president of ASATU, Chief Alex Onukwue, had issued a statement asking the PGs of the communities in Anambra State to immediately compile the list of persons from and forward the designated contact person by Thursday, 2 April 2020.
Another plan rolled out by the Anambra State government is to offer taxpayers who had paid their 2019 taxes 10% relief. Governor Obiano said this would boost entrepreneurship in the area.
“Beyond [the other measures], we have also given a 10% relief on personal income taxes to businesses in Anambra State for the year 2019. This means that if you have been paying your taxes regularly, you will get a 10% refund of the entire sum you paid in 2019. I have no doubt that this will be of great help to businesses in the state.”
Obiano used his broadcast to appreciate stakeholders and corporate organizations that yielded to the call by government to help it with funds at this critical period. The donations range from the ₦3,000 by Mr. Obinna Nwosu to ₦10m dropped by Ibeto Petrochemical, the ₦10m contributed b Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, a likely gubernatorial contender in the state, and the ₦28.5m offered by UBA Plc.
The governor expressed his gratitude for these contributions, and for other interventions in the form of medical kits and equipment donated by indigenes and corporate entities. He also appealed for more civic support.
“Ndi Anambra,” he pleaded, “we are still appealing for donations to boost our capacity to overcome the threat posed by this pandemic. We especially need ventilators and Personal Protection Equipment like gloves, goggles for the eyes, apparels and masks. We shall appreciate any intervention that will strengthen our capacity in these areas.”
Governor Obiano further assured that his administration would in no distant time start the distribution of three million masks to citizens. He said the masks would be produced locally through the engagement of local tailors across the state. Obiano indicated that traditional rulers and town union presidents-general would help to recruit the tailors, and said his government would soon commence the distribution of the masks.
“Our intention in handing out three million masks is to ensure that after the 14-day shutdown of the state, no one will step out of their home without wearing a facial mask… These masks shall be made by our own tailors carefully selected from each of the 181 communities of Anambra State. The modalities for the manufacturing and distribution of the masks shall be worked out and announced subsequently.”
The governor also announced other measures aimed at curtailing the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
“We shall also commence the fumigation of the 63 markets in Anambra State while the traders are at home. This will help to reduce the toxicity of the business environment and minimize the exposure of our people to different kinds of infections.
“We are giving a two-month waiver to Keke and shuttle bus operators in the state on the usual permits they pay. The grace period covers the months of April and May 2020. The leadership of the Tricycle Union and the Bus and Shuttle Bus Drivers Union have also given a two-month waiver to Keke and Shuttle bus drivers.
“To ensure that our children are not adversely affected by the closure of schools, we have migrated our classrooms to radio, television and Facebook. A partnership between the Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS) and the Ministry of Basic Education is meeting the educational needs of our children with a programme title ‘Anambra Teaching on Air’,” the governor announced.
As he wound up his speech, Governor Obiano urged Anambra State indigenes “to be calm and ensure adequate compliance with the standard directives on Covid-19 which includes.” He reiterated these measures: “wash your hands regularly with soap, use hand-sanitizers regularly, cough and sneeze into your elbows, put on a face mask while going out and most importantly; stay home and stay safe!”
Public Service Announcement
The Anambra State government invites indigenes to report any suspected cases of the coronavirus to the state’s Public Health Emergency Operation Center with the following numbers 08030953771, 08145434416, 08117567363 and 08058967320.
The state government is also seeking contributions to support efforts to stop the spread of the conornavirus. It asks that bring materials to the Office of the Secretary to the State Government, Government House, Awka
According to the state government, folks may also donate cash to:
ANAMBRA STATE COVID-19 AID
FIDELITY ACCOUNT NUMBER 5030112159
ANAMBRA STATE COVID- 19 SUPPORT
UBA PLC, ACCOUNT NO: 1022752108