ZAMFARA state is also battling to overcome Covid-19 pandemic that has rattled the whole world. SANUSI MUHAMMAD looks at the situation of the pandemic in the state and how it is affecting socio-economic life.
The evil wind of Corona virus also known as COVID-19 has been spreading all over the world since early this year.
For a couple of months now in Zamfara state, several measures have been taken by the state government towards ensuring total control and with a view to containing the spread of the pandemic in the state. This ranges from locking down all its borders links to Sokoto, Kebbi and Katsina states, among others.
On March 17 precisely, the state governor, Bello Matawalle, in his efforts to find way out of the spread of this deadliest pandemic directed all borders linking the state to be closed down for two weeks. According to Governor Matawalle, the decision was taken by his administration based on the agreement reached with his counterparts in Sokoto, Kebbi and Katsina states.
However, on April 12 after the expiration of the first border closure period, Governor Matawallen directed further the extension of border closure and stay-at-home directive by additional two weeks from April 11 to 24, 2020.
The governor, who spoke through the secretary to the state government, Alhaji Bala Bello Maru, stated this in a statement issued to journalists in Gusau. This time around, the extension according to the state government follows the current increase in the spread of the corona virus pandemic in the world and Nigeria, which has even affected some neighbouring states such as Kaduna and Katsina.
The statement noted that, “We should recall that when His Excellency ordered the closure on the 28th of March, 2020, only 98 cases were confirmed in Nigeria and 571,659 cases were confirmed globally, but as at yesterday April 9 2020, 288 cases were confirmed in Nigeria while 1,436,198 cases were confirmed globally with 85,522 deaths, this shows that the confirmed cases have almost multiplied three times within the past two weeks and this indeed, made the extension necessary.”
The SSG said the state government would continue to collaborate with neighbouring state governors and the federal government in order to combat this dangerous pandemic while appealing to all citizens living in the state to count on his commitment, particularly in the current situation with a view to providing all necessary assistance.
In the same vain, Governor Matawalle about three weeks ago directed all state civil servants to stay at home in whiçh all ministries, agencies and parastatals have been locked down with schools such as primary, secondary and tertiary institutions also remaining closed. This, according to the statement is part of his administration’s efforts to contain and control the spread of the diseases into the state.
Zamfara state, unlike other states like Kano, Kaduna and Katsina that imposed total lockdown as people all over the state move freely from one area to another without any hindrance by the authorities concerned considering the fact that the state had not recorded a single case of any person that was infected with Corona virus and confirmed by Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) as at the time of filing this report.
However, as part of palliative measures of his administration, Governor Matawalle set up a committee also known as taskforce committee on the prevention and control of COVID-19 under the chairmanship of speaker of the state House of Assembly, Hon Nasiru Muazu Magarya and border control under the chairmanship of the state Commissioner of police, Usman Nagoggo, among others.
Although, no single case has been identified and recorded in the state but the propagation of the pandemic affected the socio-economic potentials of majority of the people living in the state. Just last week, the taskforce committee on the prevention and control of corona virus (COVID-19) directed the immediate closure of Gurbin Baure International Market in Zurmi local local government area of the state, Tsafe Market, Shinkafi Market to mentioned but a few.
Its effect on traders, commerce and economy
A trader identified as Malam Abubabakar Abubakar also a resident of Gusau the Zamfara state capital in an interview with Blueprint expressed his dissatisfaction with the way the state government closed down all major markets in the state. He said a lot of traders have suffered from total loss as their businesses have been crippled as a result of the lockdown in the state. He appealed to the state government to soften its decision and ensure intensive scrutiny about those who are coming to the state from southern part of the country in order to contain the spread of the disease into the state. However, according to a market survey conducted by Blueprint in Gusau the state capital, prices of essential commodities has been rising up day in day out since the beginning of the lockdown order till date.
Its effect on religious activities
There is no doubt that religious activities are being affected by this lockdown especially in this month of Ramadan as all the usual religious activities which includes preaching (Tafsir) congregational prayers have been suspended in the state and other northern parts of the country based on the recent directives given by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar. Also, churches and congregational services are also said to be suspended, Qur’anic schools have been closed across the state, among other measures.
Effects of lockdown on education
Following the indefinite closing of all schools by the state government as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly the tertiary institutions, many students remain redundant at home as their first semester session was expected to be rounded off in this April.
Hussain Yero who is a Diploma in Mass Communication Student at Zamfara College of Art and Science (ZACAS) Gusau in a chat with Blueprint expressed concern about how the lockdown order by the state government affected their studies for their first semester 2019/2020 academic session. He appealed to the state government to reopens their college and intensify effort on detect students before allowing them to get into the schools.
“We did not expect this lockdown at all. So far, it has affected our academic such that our first semester examinations due to start are now postponed indefinitely. We want the government to do something quick so that we can return,” he said.