ASSESSMENT OF CITIZENS’ COMPLIANCE WITH THE GOVERNMENT DIRECTIVES OF INTERSTATE MOVEMENT AND OTHER PREVENTIVE MEASURES AGAINST COVID – 19 PANDEMIC IN BAUCHI STATE
Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD)
NUJ Secretariat, Bauchi, Bauchi State
April, 11, 2020
Last week, we issued our first assessment report on the level of compliance with directives on preventing the spread of the corona virus. In that report we looked at Kano. In it we did say that we would continue to do this. In this second report, we have focused on Bauchi State. The choice of Bauchi State is dictated by the fact that apart from CITAD having four offices in the State, it is also the state with the highest number of confirmed cases in the North, outside of FCT. But Bauchi is also a major link between the North West and North east, with a striving business connection with Kano. In addition, Bauchi shares border with six states of the federation namely, Yobe, Gombe, Taraba, Jigawa, Kano and Kaduna meaning that COVID out of the state can jump into any of these states. Bauchi as it were is the index case in the North East and if strong measures are not taken, it would be a major source of the spread of the virus across the two regions. Our concern and objective in issuing these reports is to let all stakeholders understand the precarious situation in the states and to take the necessary measures to prevent catastrophic outcomes.
Domain of Assessments
A key message in the directive issues by both WHO and NCDC as well as the Federal Government of Nigeria is the observance of social distancing. Social distancing encompasses both physical distancing and social gatherings. Within our social cultural settings, there are key sites where social distancing could collapse if appropriate actions are not taken. These include:
- Places of workshop
- Wedding places
Procedure for Assessments
We deployed monitors across the state visiting such sites as are relevant for this assessment. We also interviewed people who have travelled either within or outside the state to assess their travel experience. There were also third-party reports and information that were fed to us which we verified to be true.
Measures Taken and Announced by the Government
As an attempt to contain the spread of corona virus infection and Lassa fever in Bauchi state, the only state in the Northeast that has 4 cases of COVID – 19 the state government hold stakeholders’ meeting on Sunday 22nd March, 2020 and in the meeting it was resolved that all schools should be closed with effect from March 23rd, 2020 among the other things mention by his Excellency senator Bala Muhammad while addressing the news men shortly after the emergency sitting said the resolutions reached also include restricting all gathering to 50 people only, this cover all religious functions, he also announced the constitution of high powered committee under the chairmanship of the State Deputy Governor, Alh. Baba Tela. Stakeholders that attended the meeting include State Deputy Governor, Baba Tela, Speaker of the Bauchi State House of Assembly, Abubakar Suleiman, State Chief Judge, Rabi Talatu Umar, State Grand Khadi, Dahiru Ningi, the Emirs of Bauchi, Dass, Ningi and Misau among others.
The state Government later put a ban to interstate movements restricting people from other state to coming or going out of the state with effect from Thursday 2rd April, 2020.
Findings of the Assessment
To assess the level of citizen’s compliance in the state CITAD paid visit to some important areas in the state which include: Markets, Motor parks places of worships and also study the movements of people in the state. During the exercise CITAD found that:
- Despite the interstate movement restriction by state government, all motor parks in Bauchi, Azare, Misau, Darazo and Jammare the major towns in the state were fully operating and passengers were busy boarding to travel to other states as far as the Federal Capital as well, passengers being brought back from these places.
- Tirwun Motor Park Bauchi: (for travellers going Darazo, Misau, Azare, Yobe and Borno route)
There was no compliance at all, only cars going to Borno and Yobe state abide by the rule of carrying just three passengers in one vehicle and they too care neither about sanitizer nor hand washing facility. Passengers cry heavily for this as the drivers transfer the total burden to them. For Borno, instead of paying N3,000 passengers now pay N5,000 while for Yobe instead of paying 1,700 they now pay 3,500 – 4,000 depending on the park.
But for the rest, they behave the way they used to i.e six (6) passengers per car; two at front seat and four (4) at the back seat, making seven (7) including the driver and there is no increase in the transport fare.
- Central Market Park (Kano and beyond route)
No compliance, the drivers even went an extra mile by adding one more person to the car, instead of their traditional practice of carrying five (5) passengers they now resolved to carry six (6) passengers because according to one of the drivers we interviewed, the extra passenger is to cover up the additional cost of settling security personnel at Kano boarder due to boarder closure by Kano state government.
- Muda Lawal Park:
No compliance, not even a single sanitizer nor soap was sighted in any of the parks visited. Here transport fare is increased on passengers that are going to Kano not because they leave the social distance as instructed to curb the spread of the pandemic infection but to make up what will be used to settle security men on their way to Kano so, they can have access to Kano state.
- Gombe Road Park (Route: Gombe, Yola and Adamawa), Wunti Park (Route: Jos) and (Jos Road Park; route: Jos, Abuja, Kaduna)
No compliance, movements were going on and there was no any sanitizer seen in the park, people were boarding normally without any fear and no preventive measure in place.
- In Azare, Misau, Jama’are, Darazo and Ningi towns, which the major towns in the state example, there was no compliance in all aspect of preventive measures, in markets business without any precautions as if there is nothing called COVID – 19. Motor parks were operating despite the fact the state has banned inter sate movement, vehicles form Kano, Yobe and Borno states pass through the town without any attempt to enforce compliance from the security agencies.
- The Workers’ Unions that who are expected to assist in ensuring compliance in the area of their jurisdictions were the ones taking care of loading and assisting the passengers to board buses and cars this signifies either lack of bringing them on board as part of the COVID – 19 prevention Committee or low degree of sensitization form the side of the government.
- Motorists only got little resistance when crossing through the borders of Kano and Jigawa states which they bribe the security personnel with between 100 -200 Naira to be allowed to cross the boarders to their destinations.
- For Keke Napep riders, the story is not too different from the market places; no compliance, they carry as many passengers as their tricycle can accommodate depending on the cost passenger(s) can offer. Looking at how high the price of hand sanitizer goes, some of the riders resolved to settle on locally made sanitizers but the issue they encountered with that is rejection, as most of the passengers hardly trust sanitizers in Faro or Coke bottles. There is even fake news in circulation that charms are used for hand sanitizers especially on ladies. So, their resolution to settle for low cost items to comply and minimise cost failed here and the truth is they cannot maximise profit using the standard sanitizers based on their claims.
PLACES OF WORSHIP
The entire jumma’at mosque in Bauchi held Jumma’at prayers with the exception one in police barrack Yelwa. Similarly, churches continue to conduct services, although there is observed reduction in the length of the service. The was no significance compliance in terms of excising social distance and the use of sanitizers, although there were some places that disinfected their place of worship before the Jumat prayers for Example, in Azare Central Mosque, a Shiite Association, Islamic Movement Medical Association (ISMA) disinfected the mosques before the prayers, but the restriction of gathering to 50 people and below was not observed. At the Jama’are Central Mosque, not only Jumma’at prayer was conducted, also five weddings were conducted immediately following the prayer.
There was compliance to some in some public hospitals in state although it was not in all the departments and units of the hospitals with no enforcement mechanism.
Also, some of the private hospitals comply with the preventive measures but places like; Rimi Clinic in Bauchi: there was no compliance, in terms of visitors’ restrictions, no sanitizers were sighted in any part of the clinic at the time of the visit. In Assalam Clinic: one point of sanitizer and hand washing facility was provided at the gate but nobody was there to ensure compliance by the visitors or patients relatives. In Jamaare, a visit to the general hospital shows that none of the four departments have any safety measures. These depaartments are Male surgical ward, Female surgical ward, Maternity department and Causality department.
MARRIAGES AND OTHER CEREMONIES
Festivities in the state especially marriages and other ceremonies were going on without restriction and enforcement by of neither compliance by the government nor voluntary compliance by the citizens. For example; in Azare, the weddings of the Son of Late Alh. Umar Ahmad (Former Bauchi State Deputy Governor) and that of the son of Muhammad Ahmad Gololo (Reps Gamawa Constituency) were held with large crowds at Azare Central Mosque, by 11 am on Saturday 11th April, 2020. Also, in Bauchi, the wedding of the daughter of Alh. Anas Kango was held at Bakin Kura on 4th April, 2020 by 10 am. The Alhaji Habibu Angale’s son on Saturday 4th April, 2020 at Gwallaga Jumma’at Mosque Bauchi by 11pm was attended by many people, including a number of political figures in the state. Viewing centres no longer operate but people still play football physically in some of the playing grounds across the state. Some of the fields our observers visited include Gida Dubu Housing Estate Foot Ball Field while New York Event centre along Maiduguri road hold wedding events without break ever since the coming of this pandemic.
While the Governor was in isolation, his deputy who had earlier announced a total lockdown directive later addressed the media and told the citizens to go about their businesses and pray for Allah’s protection, that they Government had no money to implement palliatives and therefore could not impose a total lockdown. What this did was to send a wrong signal that the issue was not serious and that citizens felt encouraged to be less observance of safety measures. Similarly, when the Governor was discharged and came out of Isolation, he attended Juma’at prayer with large gatherings of political appointees and party members. This again sent the wrong signal that even the Governor does not support the social distancing and therefore such as the conduct of Jummaat Prayers. While we applauded the governor for voluntarily self-isolated following report that Atiku’s son, who he met on a flight earlier, tested positive, this action of attending the Friday Prayer was ill-advised. There was also the poor handling of the second confirmed case who is a close associate of the Governor. He was reported to have refused to be in isolation and even when his test turned positive, he refused to be isolated until eventually after the Governor pleaded with him.
Following these two acts of the Governor and his Deputy, the public have been encouraged to disregard the measures that government had announced. Afterall, if the Governor is shown on television, attending Friday prayers, why should an Imam not conduct the prayer in his mosque? As it is there is general low compliance with the directives and safety measures. People hardly use facemasks or gloves while sanitizers are not seen in even some public hospitals. All these present grave danger to the state and the country as a whole. This is because Bauchi is well linked to other capitals in the North east and is a gateway between North east and northwest, particularly as thousands of traders from Bauchi State go to Kano and transact business and return. There are no efforts by the government to amount and sustain an effective public sensitization and enlightenment campaign on COVID – 19 in the state.
Summing all the findings together, there is no compliance in all the markets visited; people do not observe the social distancing, neither sanitizers nor hand washing facilities were seen though some of the traders have started complying at early days of the pandemic but they can no long continue.
The Traders Union and Road Transport Workers Unions in state were either not carried along in the constituting of the committee or they were not fully sensitized on the role they are expected to play in the fight against the Pandemic.
- The State Government needs to intensify sensitizations at the grassroots level using available mechanism in the state.
- The State Government has to find an effective way of neutralize the wrong messages sent by the speech of the Deputy Governor and the appearance of the Governor at Friday prayer.
- There is need for the committee against the COVID – 19 in the state to strengthen its relationship with the Market Unions, Transport Workers Union, Tricycle Riders Associations and other Civil Society Organizations to be able to reach out to the members with the sensitizations.
- Where people become adamant to the sensitizations the state government should put enforcement task force on ground that will ensure total compliance.
- The promised palliatives should reach the target beneficiaries as soon as possible to help restrict their movements and comply with the preventive measures.
- All those suspected to have contact with victims in the state must be fished out and forced to quarantine.
- The Governors of Kano, Jigawa, Bauchi and Yobe should liaise together and quickly ensure that their border closures are effective across their state borders.
- There is need to close down markets, which provide excuse for traders to be traveling and thus contribute to the high number of people breaking the border closer
- Bauchi State Government should ensure the effective tracing of all those who came into constant with confirm cases for them to be both quarantine and be tested.
- Bauchi State Government should reconsider it decision into to impose lockdown and to do so with immediate effect so as to guard against the spread of the virus into rural communities were healthcare facilities are lacking.
Mohammed Chiroma Hassan
Head of Office