I recently saw a video online about what the Chinese did to contain the COVID-19 virus. They stood together as a nation, they found a solution in house, scaled them, toiled, grieved and took painful decisions borne of painful truths. But they got the job done.
China evacuated the sick, retrieved the deceased, locked down entire towns and hosed down everywhere! I was fascinated by the scale, variety and versatility of the different hose-borne disinfectants. Some were body strapped, others cart-strapped, some fully automobile and others of truck size.
Recently, The Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari had tested positive to the virus. It is on record that he had interacted with many in the ruling class, who belong to and older demography. He had been with the Minister of Power, Engr. Sale Mamman and Siemens officials, during their visit to Munich in Germany on March 9. Between March 14 and 24th, Daily Trust newspaper reports, “Kyari attended the wedding of the son of the Inspector General of Police, Muhammad Adamu. Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje and Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote were among top dignitaries that graced the wedding. At the meeting of Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) with President Buhari on March 16, Kyari was also there and group photographs were taken. The meeting was attended by 16 out of the 20 governors of the ruling party, including Babagana Zulum (Borno), Babajide Sanwo Olu (Lagos), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Godwin Obaseki (Edo), Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa), Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq (Kwara), Abdullahi Sule (Nasarawa), Mohammed Sani (Niger) and Simon Lalong (Plateau). Others were Rotimi Akeredolu ( Ondo), Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Adegboyega Oyetola (Osun), Aminu Masari (Katsina), Hope Uzodinma(Imo) and Inuwa Yahaya (Gombe). Before the NEC meeting, Kyari had an encounter with the embattled National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. On Tuesday, March 17, the chief of staff led a delegation to the Bello family compound in Okene to commiserate with Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State over the death of his mother, Hajiya Hauwa’u Ozoho. Members of the President’s delegation included the Minister of Special Duties, Senator George Akume; Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; Minister of State, FCT, Dr. Ramatu Tijjani; Minister of State, Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubair Dada and the Senior Special Assistant to the President, Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu. The same day, he attended a briefing session by the Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC) led by Professor Doyin Salami and took pictures with them. The PEAC chaired by Prof. Salami is made up of Dr. Mohammed Sagagi, who is the vice chairman, Prof. Ode Ojowu, Dr. Shehu Yahaya, Dr. Iyabo Masha, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, Dr. Bismarck Rewane and Dr. Mohammed Adaya Salisu. President Buhari’s chief of staff was also in attendance at last week’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting on March 18. Inside the council’s chambers, his seat was not far from that of Boss Mustapha and Osinbajo. On Thursday, March 19, Kyari attended the inauguration of the National Humanitarian Coordination Committee (NHCC) chaired by the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq and also took some photographs. Members of the committee co-chaired by the National Security Adviser, Maj. Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd.) are the chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum, ministers of defence, interior, justice; and minister of state budget and planning; Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Naval Staff, Chief of Air Staff, Inspector General of Police, as well as governors of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states. Also on the committee are the Commandant General, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps; Comptroller General, Nigeria Customs Service, United Nations Resident Coordinator, Permanent Secretary, FMHADMSD (Secretariat), Chairman, Non-Governmental Organization Forum, among others. Kyari was sighted after Juma’at prayers on Friday, March 20, but was not seen at the Presidential Villa from Monday. He is reportedly on self-isolation at his residence at the Defence House, Maitama, but sources said he might be moved to another facility for extensive medical care.”
For the scale of fight against this pandemic, it is clear that Nigeria may not be as ready as China was. We may not have more than 70,000 bed spaces, nor test kits asides the ones recently flown into the country by Jack Ma, Alibaba’s CEO- another Chinese. But we have time enough for our industrialists to open new production lines for medical tech equipment. We may also have enough time to adapt agro-pesticide equipment to medical disinfection kits. We may have the time to reconsider our general investment in education, in technology and our Metallurgical training institutes.
It may be time now to access, harness and adopt the Igbo Apprenticeship models in the foundry and fabrication sectors. It may be time to call on Ukamaka Okoye of EMCO Foundry Works on Afam Oledome Street, Nnewi, Anambra State to begin to mass produce movable parts for delivery of disinfectants, while plastic companies begin to make the storage and delivery of hose components. It may also be time to aggregate a supply of new adaptable health delivery automobile from Innoson to support this med-tech equipment ecosystem.
If the early man, as we were taught in primary school, went from fruit-gathering to metal works, how can we become a nation if we cannot tool?