When the outbreak of coronavirus hit Nigeria a few weeks back, both federal and state governments did not take it lightly, especially that the infections grew in number, affecting more people than initially imagined. Indeed, the Governor of Zamfara state, Dr Bello Mohammed (Matawallen Maradun), did not rest on his oars as he immediately rolled out plans to handle the situation in the state.
Zamfara state is one of the states in Nigeria where a case of covid-19 has not been recorded and not a single suspected case ever reported anywhere in the state. However, that is not enough reason to to be complacent in the face of an international pandenic such the one at hand. Hence, Governor Mohammed ordered for the closure of all schools in the state for an initial period of one month which was complied pronto. He asked civil servants to stay at home and, himself, adopted a skeletal service to run the affairs of government on precautionary measures.
He then ordered the closure of all the borders of the state. In an emergency broadcast, he ordered the closure of the borders where no one is allowed to go outside the state, nor enter the borders into the state for an initial period of two weeks. The idea here is to prevent anyone with the virus coming into the state to spread it and at the same time, preventing those inside the site to mix with others outside the state with a likelihood of contacting the virus and returning it back to the state.
To enforce this directive, Governor Matawalle monitored the borders himself where he encouraged the security operatives to be honest and committed to their responsibilities in this regard. At the Yan Kara border with Katsina state, Governor Matawalle met hundreds of stranded vehicles denied either entry or exit from the state. He, however, immediately ordered the release of all vehicles carrying food and drugs so as to ease the pressure of the little that is abound with the people.
Then, the governor ordered for the formation of two separate committees to handle the matter at home. The first committee was for the prevention and control of the disease which was placed under the leadership of the speaker of the state House of Assembly who is a trained health personnel, Nasiru Muazu Magarya.
The second one was the Impact and relief committee which was rightly placed under the chairmanship of the Deputy Governor, Barr. Mahdi Aliyu Gusau. Both committees swung into action where all their members move around on daily basis to feel the pulse of the people and take informed decisions on the appropriate measures to take in handling the calm nature of the situation we have in Zamfara State.
Governor Matawalle further directed for the purchase of all what is required to protect the citizens from unnecessary contact with the dreaded virus. His administration purchased hand sanitisers, face masks and fumigation equipments and their required chemicals. These have all been deployed to use in the public domain. The Government did not stop people from their normal day to day activities, but were strongly advised to observe the safety rules such as maintaining social distancing, avoiding crowd and staying at home unless otherwise necessary to go out.
Governor Matawalle personally went round to enforce the mandatory steps all public establishments ought to take in order to safeguard the people. For instance, this took him to many banks where he observed their teller machines were not provided with hand sanitisers for customers. He warned that if they failed to provide the sanitisers, his administration will definately close down their operations.
So far, his call for well to do citizens and organisations in the state to support the people in this trying moments was yielding very positive result. Individuals and groups such as the former Governor of the state, Alhaji Sani Ahmad (Yariman Bakura), the state Chairman of PDP, Alhaji Ibrahim Mallaha, Amb. Bashir Yuguda, Alhaji Usman Dan Kalili, The Emir of Zurmi and Alhaji Abubakar Dauran, to mention a few, have all responded with donations of foodstuff and millions of naira to assist in cushioning the effect of economic slow down among the people. Governor Matawalle ordered for the immediate disbursement of all donations received to the needy only.
As we enter the second week of our watch, no single case of the disease has so far been reported in the state. Governor Matawalle promised to continue observing the rules as well as monitoring compliance among the people. He also promised to fully come in to assist the people more in the next coming week, should the index of the pandemic refuse to relax. Indeed, the measures taken so far in the state leaves us much more comfortable and less threatened by the pandemic. However, that is not a basis for complacency. Everyone has the responsibility to remain vigant and supportive.
Bappa writes from Gusau.