By AUSTIN OWOICHO, Abuja
The National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has been taken to task over its figures on COVID-19 cases and casualties in Kano.
An Islamic human rights organization, Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) disputed figures recently quoted by the infectious disease authority.
This was disclosed in a statement signed on Tuesday May 5, 2020, by the association’s director, Professor Ishaq Akintola.
“Just two days ago, NCDC gave figures of COVID-19 cases in the country as ‘220 new cases of #COVID19; 62-Lagos, 52-FCT, 31-Kaduna, 13-Sokoto, 10-Kebbi, 9-Yobe, 6-Borno, 5-Edo, 5-Bauchi, 4-Gombe, 4-Enugu, 4-Oyo, 3-Zamfara, 2-Nasarawa, 2-Osun, 2-Ebonyi, 2-Kwara, 2-Kano, 2-Plateau. 2388 confirmed cases of #COVID19 in Nigeria; Discharged: 385, Deaths: 85.’
“Even the latest figures of yesterday, 4th May, 2020 which gave Kano 23 while places like Lagos, Abuja and Katsina had 76, 19 and 37 respectively are questionable. How can Katsina’s figure be higher than that of Kano in view of the reality staring us in the face? (https://covid19.ncdc.gov.ng/)
“We beg to disagree. If all other figures are correct, that of Kano is unacceptable. Kano is presently known to be Nigeria’s epicenter of the pandemic. So how can Lagos be 62 and Kano is just 2? How can the figure for COVID-19 cases be 2 in a city where people are dropping dead? How can Kano’s figure be the same as those of Ebonyi, Nasarawa, Osun, Kwara and Plateau? We charge stakeholders to put their heads together on this simple logic?
“Something is definitely wrong here. We challenge the figure quoted for Kano. Somebody somewhere is whittling down the real situation in that ancient city. If the media is reporting high rate of deaths in Kano on a daily basis, how can Kano’s figure be 2. Just 2? It is incredible. Is somebody cooking figures? Also, if people are dying in tens and twenties in Kano everyday, how can the total number of deaths in the whole country be 85? Are the dead bodies in Kano not part of Nigerian casualties?
“For those who love to deliberately misquote and disparage MURIC, you are only doing Nigerians a disservice. This is not an attempt to discredit NCDC. MURIC has a passion for righting wrongs and promoting decency in society. We speak the truth at all times without bothering whose ox is gored. It is a selfless service.
“Our critics must answer this question: whose interest was MURIC serving when it warned NYSC not to start this year’s orientation camp? Is the head of NYSC a Christian? Was it not for the safety of youth corpers? Are the corpers not your brothers, sisters, sons and daughters? Was it a religious matter? Were all the corpers Muslims? Didn’t Nigerians benefit from that warning? We did it in the national interest. Did NYSC listen?
“What happened thereafter? The first index case soon occurred in Nigeria. COVID-19 began to spread and the Federal Government (FG) had no choice than to order the closure of NYSC camps. It was such a colossal waste in money, time and energy. The corpers also suffered tremendous mental pressure having had to travel to and fro long distances at great peril.
“MURIC is the only human rights group that has been clamouring for the release of 54 soldiers wrongly jailed. Are our members among them? MURIC has been advocating for the increase of maternity leave for women until Lagos granted it in 2014 and FG followed suit. MURIC fought for social security and welfare schemes particularly for unemployed Nigerians and senior citizens. This advocacy was first adopted by Osun State and later by the FG. The records are there for seekers of the truth. But did our detractors see this? Of course we do not claim to be perfect but courtesy demands that people balance their views. Failure to see any positive angle in a movement is the mother of all parochialism.
“This is why nobody should see MURIC as a mere rabble-rouser. Neither should NCDC see us as seeking to rock the boat. On the contrary, NCDC should come out openly and tell Nigerians its limitations. That is when the press, civil society and well-meaning Nigerians will echo its fears.
“The international community will not hearken to our tiding if we keep our casualty figures down. Our people say a woman whose eye-sockets are deep should start crying from a long distance so that his tears will be easily noticeable.
“Above all, the centre should let FG know if it has challenges. NCDC should dust up its statistics. What we suspect is inadequate testing facilities. This is what should be addressed. NCDC may also be understaffed. These shortcomings cannot be easily overcome no matter how good NCDC’s intention may be unless FG does the needful. Kano centre needs a holistic overhaul in terms of manpower and equipment.”