Covid-19 claws deeper into Nigerian elite
…Claims some, sends many into isolation
Sadly, Nigeria’s healthcare system has over the years been grappling with institutional and infrastructural decays due to continuous neglect by both the Federal and State Governments.
This, observers believed, accounts for the reason government officials, including President Muhammadu Buhari as well as other rich and powerful in the society, seek medical help abroad especially in Europe.
Nigeria, Africa’s oil-rich economy with close to 200 million population, has out of negligence, failed to develop its healthcare system as only less than 10 percent of its annual budgets is allocated to cater for the development of the healthcare system.
For instance, out of the total N9.45 trillion budgeted for 2020 by the Federal Government, only about N427.3 billion, which is equivalent to 4.5 percent of the total budget, was allocated to the health system.
Pundits believed that not until the outbreak of dreaded coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic in Nigeria, the government’s response to matters that affect the public has always been lethargic.
The ferocious fight by the Nigerian government against the spread of coronavirus shows how concerned the elite class is about the ravaging plague.
Until the advent of the coronavirus, elected political office holders and ministers were used to seeking medical help outside the shores of the country amid decayed and decaying health infrastructure.
Today, despite multi-billion naira pumped into the fight against the virus, members of the elite class are daily falling victim by either contracting or dying due to complications from the virus.
Presently, a good number of governors, business tycoons, commissioners and other highly placed Nigerians have been bitten by the bug of the Covid-19.
Just on Thursday, the news of the demise of the 70-year-old Abiola Ajimobi, immediate past governor of Oyo State, filtered in.
Ajimobi had been on a life support machine since Friday June 19, 2020 at First Cardiology Hospital in Ikoyi, Lagos, after slipping into a deep coma following coronavirus complications.
According to source close to the former Oyo governor, the late Ajimobi had a lungs surgery since being rushed to the Lagos hospital but made no progress while his kidneys also failed.
Before his demise, doctors treating Ajimobi, informed his family that his situation defied every medical intervention and that only a miracle could bring him back to life.
A day after, exactly on Friday 26 June, 2020, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa confirmed that one of his daughters tested positive for coronavirus. Okowa added that he and his wife, Edith, were now self-isolating for the next 14 days.
Earlier on Monday June 15, 2020, it was also reported that a Senator representing Lagos East in the National Assembly, Adebayo Sikiru Osinowo, died after battling with Covid-19.
Osinowo popularly known as Pepperito, an All Progressives Congress (APC), lawmaker, who died at the age of 64, was a former member of Lagos State House of Assembly for 16 years.
Before his death, Osinowo was admitted at the special intensive unit of Lagos Cardiologist Centre, Ikoyi, where dignitaries with COVID-19 complications were treated.
Another report had it that three days earlier, he was taken in at the Yaba Infectious Diseases Hospital (IDH) before his death on Monday, June 15.
Before then, exactly in May 2020, it was reported that Kehinde Ayoola, the Oyo State Commissioner for Environment and Natural Resource, also dead at the age of 55 from complications from Covid-19.
Meanwhile, exactly on April 17, 2020, late Abba Kyari, the most powerful chief of staff to President Buhari, died from Covid-19 complications after a nearly month-long battle with the virus.
The late chief of staff was said to have contracted the coronavirus on an official trip to Germany in March. He was confirmed with the virus on March 23 when it was reported that late Kyari also had underlying conditions.
Before his death, late Kyari was widely known as the de facto president owing to reports that he decides who gets access to the president.
Aside the late politicians, several states governors including Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State, Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State and Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State had at one point or the other, contracted the virus.
For Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, who is presently in isolation tested positive for coronavirus as stated on the Abia State Government’s Twitter handle, his result came out negative following his test on May 30.
Governor Ikpeazu submitted another sample on June 4, which turned out to be positive and has been receiving healthcare by a team of medical practitioners.
Observers say if it were only in Nigeria that the killer virus was, these high and mighty people would have since relocated abroad with their families, leaving the poor and hapless Nigerians at the mercy of the virus.
Adeyinka Ojo, a medial practitioner, who lamented the dilapidated medical facilities in Nigeria, told BDSUNDAY that government after government in Nigeria has failed to invest in the development of hospitals and other health facilities.
Ojo, who believed that outbreak of Covid-19 has taught both high and mighty the lesson on the need to build a better health infrastructure in Nigeria, said that if not the lockdown and other movement restrictions that comes with Covid-19, many politicians like the late Abba Kyari, Ajimobi and others would have been flown abroad to seek medical help.
According to her, many Nigerian political elites are now seeing the importance of putting their houses in order for the raining days.
“They have looted our God given wealth to better their lives and their generations unborn with no consideration to providing the infrastructural amenities that common Nigerian citizens need,” said a public affair analyst, who gave his name Gbenga Adio.
Adio, who stated that there is no pity for politicians that died due to Covid-19 complications, said that most of them did not contract the virus in Nigeria as many of them have been gallivanting about even with the escalating reports in Europe and America
BDSUNDAY can recall that Osahon Enabulele, president of the Commonwealth Medical Association said in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Benin, Edo State, that health sector funding both in the state and at federal levels were poor, compared to other countries.
According to him, if government provides good health facilities in the country, majority of the people, who travel abroad for treatment, would be treated here in Nigeria.
“Healthcare funding has been a very sour point in our economic history. The Nigerian healthcare sector needs good facilities in order to function well. Apart from the need for hospital equipment, doctors need training and research to enhance the development of new procedures for better services,” he said.
He further called on the federal and state governments to invest in healthcare delivery system to make the citizens benefit more from health services.
Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president of Nigeria, (1999-2007) said earlier in April 2020 that the outbreak of this pandemic has vindicated organised labour’s long time agitation for improved investments in the nation’s healthcare system.
“There is no doubt that when the world comes out of this depressing anguish, governments will look around and see the absolute necessity to increase spending on healthcare, human capital development, better standard of living for the people and all those other topical issues,” he said.
According to him, “We are all witnesses to the reality today that governments across the world have fallen short of the requirement to keep people safe and healthy if there is a sudden and unexpected shock.
Meanwhile, after the news of Ajimobi’s filtered in, some Nigerians took to social media platforms especially twitter to express their anger on the failure of government officials to develop infrastructure in Nigeria.