By Emmanuel Ado
“A critic is a legless man,who teaches running” Channing Pollock
Despite the conscientious and resolute efforts of the Kaduna State Government at communicating almost on a daily basis, since the outbreak of COVID-19 on the various measures it had taken and would be taking in the future to ensure that the pandemic is contained with the people of Kaduna State until such a time a cure is found, avowed critics in spite of the overwhelming evidence continue to doubt the reality of the pandemic and base their strident criticism of the management of the crisis by the Kaduna State Government from this cynical skepticism that is as amazing as it is confounding.
The point must quickly be made that constructive critics are absolutely necessary “evils”, whose criticisms even when constructive are really tough to handle, and this is also very true about critics who equally find criticisms very difficult to stomach. Which is why for ages, the best way to handle criticism has remained a subject of controversy. For instance to guide against criticism of any kind, Aristotle was of the considered opinion that people should simply “say nothing, do nothing and be nothing”, a strategy which rather than ward off criticism will be fuel for critics. But clearly the refusal of some critics to respect the maxim that you don’t criticize what you don’t understand,as in the case of those who criticize every decision of the state government in the management of the pandemic,confirms them more as “irritants” than critics,that shouldn’t be taken serious. Under such circumstances(uninformed Jews) the clear and obvious choice for the state government is to press on with its programme based on solid convictions that partial lifting of the lockdown is the best option in the prevailing conditions.
The laughable grouse of the El-Rufai’s critics is that Kaduna State being the first state in Nigeria to enforce a partial lockdown, that the government ought to have lifted the lockdown to allow for a quick return to “our old ways”, when in fact the song is the new normal. The other “high crimes” for which El-Rufai and his family have been subjected to abuses and curses is the decision not to reopen places of worship and the rigid enforcement of the president’s ban on interstate travel, especially the notorious Kano State and Abuja boundaries, were many of the Kaduna state cases sadly came from. While some Kano and Kaduna State people have showed remarkable understanding and applauded the various actions of El-Rufai as a legitimate obligation expected of him as a leader, especially as the Kano State Government was and has continued to live in denial about the deadly virus in spite of overwhelming evidence that the pandemic is real and ravaging the state, others think otherwise.
Thankfully the number of recorded cases has justified the deft handling of the crisis by the kaduna state government. Even though critics have laboriously tried to justify their agitations for lifting of the lockdown based on the increase in the number of cases, which unknown to them, is largely because the state has embarked on intensive testing, tracing and treatment and due to the stubborn refusal of some citizens to fully comply with the quarantine restrictions imposed by the government in good faith. The high number of infected persons from the Northern part of the state- Zaria, Sabon -Gari etc compared to the zero cases in the Southern part,that has religiously complied with the ban on interstate travel and other protocols justifies the government decision to enforce the closure of its borders. And in his usual blunt manner, El-Rufai hasn’t spared the north which is in the forefront of insisting on the immediate reopening of the state for denying the reality of the virus, an indication that no lessons have been learnt. Which explains why in his last media chat he was full of profound commendation for Southern Kaduna and condemnation for the north.”The corona virus is mainly in nine(9) local government areas of Kaduna State and none of them are located in Southern Kaduna,because they have been law-abiding….they have refused to travel to neighboring states” he said.
The thinking that government is out to punish its citizens being propagated by uncharitable critics, has absolutely no basis in reality, because while the government is losing huge money in terms of internally generated revenue (IGR), and allocation from the federation account, it has continued to incur heavy expenditure on increasing hospital capacity, in occupational hazard allowance for frontline health workers , insurance for frontline health workers, palliatives for the poor/vulnerable and on security. The concern of the government from the outset was to avoid community transmission at all cost, and especially in places like Shika,Sabon-Gari, and Zaria where it might be compelled to cordon off due to the increase in recorded cases. The other impediment to its efforts to quickly reopen the state is the lack of the required testing capacity(mobile testing equipment is being expected), which will give it the required leverage to decisively act. These are very necessary steps!
While the critics of the government haven’t gone beyond canvassing for a quick return to “normalcy”, the state government has an articulated roadmap for reopening which was widely circulated for views and inputs of every citizen, which explains why it extended the Quarantine Orders by two weeks on 26th May 2020, and also announced steps to ease some of the restrictions, increasing lockdown-free days to three and allowing approved businesses and facilities to open on those three days. The strategy behind the partial easing of restrictions is to ensure that Covid-19 prevention efforts continue side by side with the pursuit of livelihoods. Without doubt the last three(3) months have been traumatic for most kaduna state citizens, but it would amount to waste of efforts and sacrifices by residents of Kaduna State if the easing of the lockdown is not carried out in a safe and responsible manner. This fact is and the fact that Public safety and the protection of human lives remain the sole motivation for the government’s Covid-19 response is obviously lost on them. From day one, the goal of the Nasir El-Rufai administration is the safe and responsible reopening and most certainly the state government would not waver on this.
As promised the relevant government officials and agencies have engaged with religious leaders, transport unions, traditional institutions, market unions, school proprietors and other stakeholders to discuss the conditions and circumstances for a safe reopening of these sectors.When as widely expected the government announces the way forward we must support it. This war on COVID-19 is not about El-Rufai.
Kaduna State is certainly not out of the woods yet. And rather than the campaign of calumny targeted at El-Rufai which is extremely disturbing,but which thankfully the governor hasn’t allowed to intimidate him into shrinking his responsibility, all that is needed is that unity of purpose towards defeating the virus. El-Rufai deserves commendation for being decisive,conscientious, diligent and accountable when others were wavering and unsure of how to respond to the threat and conscientious. The critics must realize that they pose serious dangers to the society,which goes beyond making light a very serious disease that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and forced the whole world to a standstill, but that as opinion leaders they are like Donald Trump misleading those who look up to them for guidance.