Even in these grim times of the global COVID-19 pandemic, Nigeria has an additional emergency of unexplained deaths to cope with
Kano State, the busy commercial city of the Northern Nigeria, which also doubles as the most populous state in the country, has witnessed a spate of unexplained deaths in the past couple days, and the state is under lockdown which is unusual for its busy residents who are always on top of their commercial and other menial jobs to provide a living for themselves.
The abnormal death has generated serious anxiety across the country. But the Kano State government, which initially denied that anything was wrong has just promised to probe the issue. Meanwhile, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje has finally admitted that he needs help, as he cried out to the Federal Government for N15 billion to combat the strange illness that has taken many lives in the state.
The situation in Kano was previously kept under the wraps, but the increasing death toll became impossible to hide or explain. People were dying mysteriously without any information of what exactly was killing them, even as a number of guesses were made. However, nothing can be scientifically proven because cultural and religious adherence demand quick interment for the dead, thereby denying a critical examination of the corpse through a post-mortem to verify what the cause of death was.
Most of the death has been attributed to high blood pressure, malaria, ulcer and even hunger, while dearth of medical doctors to attend to the patients in hospitals across the state has become situation of worrisome.
Residents of the state have been left wondering what may have led to a surge in the number of deaths after the state government imposed a total lockdown on the state as a result of the rising cases of Coronavirus.
The spate of deaths has caused palpable fear and confusion among the residents, which prompted the question on why the attention of the government shifted to fighting Coronavirus while people are dying in silence.
Some persons even suspect that the people are dying of the Coronavirus without being detected.
Demanding an immediate investigation and visit by President Muhammadu Buhari, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) also berated Ganduje for abandoning governance.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbodiyan demanded an immediate investigation into the disturbing mass death in Kano state, urging a Presidential visit to the state, where no fewer than 640 citizens had reportedly died under mysterious circumstances in the last one week.
Ologbodiyan said the party’s call was predicated on conflicting reports emanating from Kano State on the cause of the sudden deaths particularly at this time that our nation is battling with the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
He said, “The PDP notes with dismay that the Buhari Presidency had failed to take any concrete step on this frightening development, but is, as usual, waiting to be prodded to stand up to the demand of the office and proceed to Kano state to identity with the people, find solution and contain the ugly situation.
The party describes as lamentable that President Muhammadu Buhari, who promised to lead from the front, and who recently took up the toga of ECOWAS COVID-19 Response Champion, had rather receded into the safety of Aso Villa and failed to promptly activate any concrete and visible action to investigate and arrest the situation in Kano, where Nigerians are dying in their hundreds.
“The PDP described the situation as yet another manifestation of leadership failure and insensitivity of the Buhari-led All Progressives Congress (APC) administration to the plight of Nigerians at critical moments.
“Our party holds that the situation in Kano demands an immediate Presidential visit and investigation at the very high level. Those dying in Kano are Nigerians and must not be abandoned. The development deserves an utmost Presidential attention to avoid further escalation.
“This is particularly imperative as it is evident that Governor Abdullahi Ganduje and his APC-led administration in Kano State are totally incompetent and have become overwhelmed after failing to take appropriate measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus or whatever medical situation that has taken over the state.”
The once busy streets of Kano streets have been deserted without vehicular movement on the streets. Unfortunately, the only gathering of a large number of people these days are people carrying corpses to the cemetery for burial, apart from the security personnel deployed to manage the lockdown order by Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje as part of the government efforts to curtail the spread of Coronavirus pandemic.
All the cemeteries in Kano state have become busy places receiving different corpses who are mostly elderly people that died from unexplained ailments.
The total lockdown has drawn attention of the public to unusual occurrences in the ancient city of Kano because of the overwhelming way corpses are brought for burial on daily basis. In most of the cemetery in Kano, people used to bury four or five corpses daily under normal circumstances. In the last seven days, however, the number of corpses buried each day have gone up to an average of 15 corpses per day.A resident of the state, Sanusi Bala said, “I was at the Abattoir Cemetery along Wamba Quarters attending a burial when they brought five other corpses for burial. Everybody was complaining about the increasing number of death in the city. The undertaker said they have buried over 60 in just two days.”
This situation was soon to go viral on the social media with video and audio clips as well as texts doing the round. As the conventional media took an interest, the state government was taken unawares. It issued a statement promising to investigate the cause of the rise in deaths and make it public. The announcement was made through the office of the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Aminu Tsanyawa although days later the state Governor Abdullahi Ganduje later dismissed the reported deaths in Kano as fake news while responding to questions from journalists.
Reports have it that over 200 people have died within few days since the commencement of the total lockdown in the state.
The lack of facilities in a densely populated city like Kano which requires all hands on deck to prevent the spread of the novel Coronavirus is alarming and the rampant deaths indeed call for concern. Infections, particularly the ones associated with poor hygiene, are largely linked to poverty. It is the poor who suffer the pains of death and devastations, occasioned by the visit of such scourge.