The International Society for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law (Intersociety) has said that with obvious incapacity and inability of the Government of Anambra State to put in place realistic control measures, including fumigation of all residences and public facilities and arenas, to ward off further spread of Coronavirus across the State, the civil rights body has, “with most humility and respect, written to Anambra State Health Commissioner, Dr. Vincent Okpala, calling on the State Government to make public ‘the simplified template for anti-Coronavirus fumigation”.
The group said in a statement signed by Emeka Umeagbalasi, Chairman of the Board and other principal officers of the body that it is on record that Anambra citizens and residents are almost second to none in terms of ‘culture of self help development’ which has been age-long.
Also, by extending the lockdown for another two weeks, Intersociety said, “the Government of Anambra State must provide verifiable feeding incentives including 50kg bags of rice per house-hold and other food items and their condiments.
“Provision of “Mudu” size of rice is roundly rejected and regarded as nothing short of providing none.
“Other items that must be provided by the Government of Anambra State are cash sums and protective devices using “house-hold” method.
“Such provisions must be devoid of political party affiliations or considerations and must strictly be done ‘house-hold by house-hold’.
“We feel the pains of the citizens and residents of Anambra State particularly in this challenging period of COVID-19 caused lockdowns; yet safety is the most priceless gift of nature warranting huge sacrifices at ensuring same.
“We are on the same page with the good citizens of the State, which is why we feel pained when Government sits and does little or nothing while citizens are cocooned amidst hashes and rashes of life being gone through.
“Government of the State has also done and achieved little all this period citizens have been confined to their homes.
“It is therefore our informed reasoning that more attention and resources shall be channeled into the areas of fumigation and provision of verifiable and house-hold to house-hold feeding incentives and protective devices as it makes no sense spending “billions” in building ‘isolation’ and others designated centers for lizards, cockroaches and rats-especially when Government lacks obvious capacity to locate, identify and get as much citizens as possible tested and quarantined if tested positive from the virus.
“It is no longer hidden that Governments at all levels in the country including that of Anambra State acutely lack the necessary equipment and experts to fish out those that are infected and those that are not through diagnosis and other conventional methods.
“The public health quagmire as per COVID-19 is also aided by Nigeria’s terribly failed data system. Government’s efforts in this area are nothing more than “random sampling” and “fire brigade approach”.
“This was exactly our position when we spoke to the Voice of America in the early hours of yesterday, being 11th April 2020. Governments at all levels in Nigeria including that of Anambra State must face and live with the realities of their colossal failure particularly in the area of social services including public healthcare facilities and their deliveries.
“The whole idea is lost when Government spends “billions” building ‘isolation’ and other designated centers only to leave them in the hands of lizards, rats and cockroaches.
“It is a common logic that he or she who is never tested of Coronavirus has no business ‘playing guest’ to such centers.
“This is more so when without effective Government monitoring and identification, no citizen will voluntarily visit the centers. Apart from obvious lack of equipment including testing or diagnostic equipment and their well trained handlers, social stigma, fears, ignorance and material poverty are also fundamental impediments responsible for Government failure in having accurate data on number of citizens living with Coronavirus; whether mildly or critically infected.
“It is therefore on account of these that we wrote the Anambra Health Commissioner, demanding for the release of ‘simplified template for anti Coronavirus fumigation’ for purpose of citizens’ ‘self help method’.
“It is our firm demand that citizens of the State be involved or persuasively incorporated in the anti Coronavisus drive.
“It is specifically recalled that Anambra Health Commissioner had five days ago at Onitsha Main Market during the flag-off of the fumigation of the Market, disclosed that the “anti-Coronavirus fumigation is being done with diluted sodium hypochloride in line with the provisions of the World Health Organization (WHO)”.
“Put in plain language, it is understood that ‘there is likely not much difference in terms of basic methods in use, between the referenced and fumigation involving control or elimination of killer germs and ants such as mosquitoes.
“Since many residences and their residents routinely fumigate their houses and environments, the Government of Anambra State should simplify the template for anti Coronavirus fumigation, make same public and persuasively encourage the citizens of the State to follow suit or assist.
“Specifically, Government should provide a guide for interested clusters of citizens to do theirs or fumigate on their own, if they so wish or have the capacity.
“This can be done through a live broadcast or public service announcements or paid advertorials or use of town criers, town unions and worship centers or their media.
“This ‘citizens’ self help method’ being asked for must not be interpreted by Government to mean relinquishing or abdicating its constitutional or ‘social contact’ responsibilities.
“As a matter of fact, Government of Anambra State must mobilize all the staff of the State’s 21 Local Government Areas particularly their health officers and fully swing into action. This is no time for ‘armchair syndrome’ or culture.
“Therefore, since the fumigation is done using “diluted sodium hypochloride” and chemical spray containers; questions Government must provide answers to include: what is the amount of dilution of the sodium hypochloride in terms of litre of same versus litre of water?
“Where and where can it be sprayed or fumigated?
“Are there environmental health implications if sprayed close to living places or sales stores, etc?
“Does it have specified duration when sprayed to avoid harmful effects? And are there other expert clarifications deemed necessary for public knowledge or caution?
“Attached hereunder is the link to our Voice of America interview on its Nightline Africa Program of early Sat, 11th April 2020. We humbly invite the public to listen to it and share widely.”
For: Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law
- Emeka Umeagbalasi, Chair of the Board
- Lawyer Obianuju Joy Igboeli
Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law Program
- Lawyer Chinwendu Cordelia Umeche
Head, Democracy & Good Governance
Mobile/Whatsapp Line: +2348174090052
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