By Jonathan Ugbal
Entrepreneurs and politicians are beginning to step into the fight against the SARS – CoV-2 pandemic ravaging the globe as more donations to help curb the spread are pouring in.
In north and central Cross River state, residents say the directives of governments are partially enforced especially despite assurances of the state regarding palliatives.
“The challenge we are having is that some do not have money to afford the face masks. It has been so difficult for us, for me as a health worker, I have it but for others, moving out without a face mask has been a challenge. It has been very difficult for them to get and staying at home without food is hard,” Nancy Ekpang, a community health practitioner told CrossRiverWatch.
She said the facility she works in has carried out directives of the state and guidelines issued in educating residents but lamented that it was difficult for some to make ends meet.
Her colleague, Aniah Ukwen (actual name hidden to prevent reprisals) in Obudu lamented that the state has not been honest in its dealings as promised equipment and palliatives are yet to get to residents with some now relying on medical practitioners to eat.
“We are using the armpit thermometers in our facility to check people at this time, in this era. We cannot say there is no case of the pandemic here especially as over 65 percent of the cases are asymptomatic. We are yet to receive alcohol based hand rub, hand washing equipment and other equipment from the state,” she lamented.
“The state promised to give out foodstuffs and we saw images, but that has not been shared. Maybe it was, but in the political ward where I work, we know the poor and vulnerable captured in the social register and they are yet to receive any palliatives from the state and federal governments!. The restriction is biting hard and some may die of hunger,” she added.
The Governor, Benedict Ayade had issued a stay at home order which has been in effect for three weeks. He also directed that residents should wear masks before stepping out of their houses. This drew mixed reactions from the people. And residents, despite being in support of the stat at home order, say they have been enduring the pangs due to lack of resources.
And, findings show that the homes and offices of the middle and upper class have become pilgrimages of some sort despite the ban on gatherings exceeding five. Burials are the new food banks too.
For Reverend Father Joeblaise Ayima, the pandemic if it enters Cross River, may be through markets, burials or social gatherings especially in light of the false sense imprinted in the minds of many that the mask was the only solution.
The Governor, had in a leaked video, said that there was no need for social distancing if one wore a mask.
And, the clergyman told CrossRiverWatch that: “We are worried about the restrictions because it is not total. It seems to be selective. There is restriction, we don’t gather in the church, they said only five persons in the church, but then burials are going on, markets are going on, social events are going on – very thick (and) not maintaining social distance,” Ayima said, adding that: “If they will contract COVID-19 in Cross River state, it will not come from the church, it will come from the markets, it will come from funerals and other social distancing where the government is not taking strict measures to curtail gatherings.”
On the position of the Governor, the clergyman, who said aides of the Governor are trying to spin the narrative to favor the Governor after the backlash received, averred that: “Social distance is very necessary to the curbing of COVID-19. I don’t understand the essence to which he mentioned that. But, it has gone viral and he can’t deny it.“
However, for politicians like Victor Abang, the All Progressives Congress candidate for the position of the member representing the Ikom/Boki federal constituency in national assembly, it was time to step in an fill a void as well as give back to the community.
“It has been my tradition every year during my birthday to give back to the community. I normally do it quietly by going to the motherless baby home. But this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and how it is threatening the lives of our people, I decided to contribute these items and create awareness in order to see how we can check the spread of the pandemic,” Abang, who is popularly referred to as “mature” told CrossRiverWatch after donating alcohol based hand rub, hand washing buckets, medical masks among other essential supplies to communities in northern and central Cross River.
Abang who noted the challenges the steps taking to flatten the curve were biting hard, however, posited that it was necessary to follow guidelines set out by experts in order for lives to be preserved.
“The way to go is to follow the recommendations of the World Health Organisation on how to curb the spread of the COVID-19. Of course the first one is social distancing (then) washing of hands with soap and the use of alcohol based sanitizers and practicing personal hygiene. We should follow what the experts have advised us to do,” he said.
His donation drew praises from residents with Mr. Joseph Okim, a resident in Boki telling our reporter that: “Even as he lost his mandate, he is putting up some effort to sustain the lives of people and to attain the position that we are. Even the one that was voted in to represent Ikom/Boki (federal constituency) has not come down to sympathize with the suffering that our people are facing.”
For Sir Thomas Ogabi, a retired head of local government administration, there was need to encourage people to stay at home.
“You know the human being is a rigorous animal. The restriction has affected a lot of economic activities, a lot of social activities, economic activities especially that it came during this very important period of Easter. Whatever price is being paid, it is nothing compared to what would have happened if we were not to make this sacrifice. In my own opinion, the restriction is the best thing that has happened to us, for the fact that COVID-19 has not reached here, it doesn’t mean that it has passed us.”
Since You Are Here, Support Good Journalism
CrossRiverWatch was founded on the ideals of deploying tech tools to report in an ethical manner, news, views and analysis with a narrative that ensures transparency in governance, a good society and an accountable democracy.
Everyone appreciates good journalism but it costs a lot of money. Nonetheless, it cannot be sacrificed on the altar of news commercialisation.
Consider making a modest contribution to support CrossRiverWatch's journalism of credibility and integrity in order to ensure that all have continuous free access to our noble endeavor.