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Kwara COVID-19: Where is My Governor?

Moments of trials reveal the real person we are. And so today, the Nigerian populace are clapping for Babajide sanwo-Olu; the same man many had despised for taking over the ‘political birthright’ of Ambode as a second-term governor of Lagos state; the same man many had derided for being a ‘point and kill’ personality with the many of his public photographs showing him pointing at something, always, somewhere, all the time. 


Today, many Lagosians have forgotten the heaps of complaints over bad roads that greeted the Sanwolu administration and how many had felt he was just incompetent in handling the infrastructure crisis that suddenly bedeviled Lagos. Many thought he was a mistake to be governor of the commercial nerve center of Nigeria.

But then came COVID-19 and we are seeing leadership being demonstrated. From day One, the governor made it known that he is the leader of the people; he is the one they voted to lead them; he is the father to every household in the state. Hence, like a wise family head, he comes out regularly, through various channels, to speak with his family; the indigenes and residents of the state of aquatic splendour. He offers insight into what is happening; he gives convincing statistics and words of encouragement to a people traumatized by an evil viral outbreak.
And across Nigeria as well as other parts of the globe, this is what leadership is doing. It is what leadership demands.

The words of leaders are so important in a time like this. They speak with authority. They speak of plans and projections. They speak of what is to be done, and what is being done. They speak of empathy for the traumatized. They speak of comfort for the distressed. They speak of courage to the weary. They speak of hope to the hopeless. 

In my state, Kwara, it is unfortunate that my governor, HE Abdulrazaq AbdulRahaman seems complacent with the enormity of the current challenge; he seems complacent  of the value of his having regular contacts with the people of the state on the pandemic.  Since he ordered, at first, a partial lockdown, and later a total lockdown of the state, the governor has addressed Kwarans, only once.  And it was through the media, not a state broadcast. In such situations, the media give prominence to whatever aspect of the address they believe is right, whatever suits their philosophy and ownership and whatever can be allowed by the constraints of time and space. Therefore, we did not have the opportunity to have a complete idea of what our governor said. And when his Deputy addressed Kwarans (annoyingly, to me, in a broadcast reading from a phone) it was just to announce the first lockdown. There was nothing substantial in his address, too.

The end result is that government has unnecessarily provided opportunities to strengthen the rumour industry, which has ordinarily been in full production under this pandemic globally.  Of course, the near absence of our governor on the hot seat at this time is a question on his leadership and style. His face and words would have given hope and comfort to a people already depressed and uncertain about what the future holds. 

The governor, assisted by a team of medical professionals, needs a regular interface with the people while his lieutenants implement his directives.  He is the Incident Commander. By global best practices, the official spokeperson on emergency public health issues are usually professionals, most likely an epidemiologist, who can give professional insight.  But when you don’t want them to give out much, you give the job to a manager who can manage the media and their usual voyeurism. 
Too much delegated authority was why the governor couldn’t know what to do about when and how to allow people move during this lockdown. In two days we had three orders: stay at home, permanently and come out for few hours on specific days; no, stay at home permanently and don’t come out at all; no, come out between 8-12 and then go and stay at home permanently. Let it be known that we are at home, Your Excellency. What's next?

As I noted earlier, it was the apparent absence of our governor that  created room for rumours and fake news which this government has inadvertently joined in propagating. They said opposition was planning a protest! For where? Over what? In a peaceful but progressive society like ours? Your Excellency, this is state of harmony. We are law abiding and believe that power belongs to God. He gives it to whom He wishes and takes from whom He pleases. Today, He has bestowed it on Abdulrazaq AbdulRahaman, and your legitimate order we shall follow. 

Indeed, the mere thought of introducing politics into a matter of life and death like the COVID-19 pandemic is most detestable, to say the least. This government will do well by facing the challenges of the “COVID-19 business”, rather than think the opposition will embark on any protest against any genuine concerted effort to safe our people and our state.  Or, was the alarm raised to distract attention from the “COVID-19 business” with Abuja? 

To me and most kwarans, I think, our governor should give us a glimpse of his leadership potentials at a time like this. The kind of a glimpse on his twitter account that soon soft loans will be given out to transport workers like motorcycle, tricycle and cab drivers who have been seriously affected by the shutdown to flatten the curve of transmission of COVID-19. This kind of glimpse should be extended to our clerics whose only means of livelihood is to teach our children the way of God and the morality to live a meaning and impactful life. 

Kwarans, stay safe and healthy.
Maintain social distancing.

Kwara COVID-19: Where is My Governor? Reviewed by Engr. Funsho on April 16, 2020 Rating: 5

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