It has become necessary to respond to the growing rumours sponsored and promoted by politically exposed persons to the effect that some of the most significant developments in Anambra State in the war against the coronavirus virus, also known as COVID-19, arose out of a so-called competition for excellence between the Anambra State Government and the Lagos State Government. The opposition politicians specifically point to the state of the art isolation centres built or being built in the two states to support their claim of a rivalry between the two states.
2. We want to state for the purpose of historical accuracy that the 240-bed isolation centre at the National Youth Service Corps Complex at Mbaukwu-Umuawulu in Awka South Local Government Area was not built in response to the 110-bed isolation which Guarantee Trust Bank built and donated about a week and a half ago to the Lagos State Government. The decision to build isolation centres in Anambra State which meet international standards was taken no sooner than the pandemic broke out in Nigeria.
3. The 16-bed isolation centre at the Onitsha General Hospital, which meets the World Health Organisation (WHO) standards, was the first isolation centre to be conceived and built by the Anambra State Government. However, given the manner in which COVID-19 has been ravaging the world, it became clear that this cenre might not be big enough for patients, all the more so given the fact that our people travel a lot to all parts of the world for one reason or another. We recognized the need for surge centres, that is, facilities where patients who may not be accommodated in three of the leading hospitals in the state due to space constraint can be taken to.
4. The newly built NYSC Camp at Umuawulu-Mbaukwu became a natural location for one of the centres. This is because of, among other factors, its size or capacity; its Auditorium alone can accommodate three hundred beds.
5. The Anambra State Government took delivery of the world class beds, accessories and medical facilities in this camp and some other places in the state before the GT Bank opened the new impressive facility at the famous Onikan stadium in Lagos, now known as Mobolaji Johnson Stadium. Our beds and other things were fixed within three days after the isolation centre at Mobola Johnson Stadium was delivered, and this was sheer coincidence.
6. It is also wrong to suggest that because GT Bank delivered the 110-bed isolation centre to the Lagos State Government, the Anambra State Government compelled two banks, namely, Fidelity Bank and Access Bank, to build for it two isolation centres with 60 beds each, thus enabling Anambra State to have the highest number of isolation centres and beds in the country. The two banks chose voluntarily to build the centres with 120 beds and furnish them in the next few days because of their powerful sense of social corporate responsibility.
7. It is not true that the Anambra State Government launched the COVID-19 Fund because of the tremendous amounts of money which the Lagos State Government has been receiving from wealthy Nigerian organisations and individuals in the fight against the coronavirus. Like the rest of Igbo society, Anambra people have for several decades been known for “do-it-yourself” spirit which has seen them execute many projects. Various administrations in the state have over the decades turned to wealthy individuals for assistance, like in the aftermath of the inferno which wrecked Ochanja Market in Onitsha last October 13 when a petrol-laden tanker fell and its contents spilled, resulting in a huge fire.
8. We would like to use this opportunity to express gratitude, once again, to public-spirited individuals and organizations from our state donating generously to the Anambra Fund on COVID-19. History will remember them for being in solidarity with their distressed brothers and sisters. Our people remain the best practitioners of onyeaghananwanneya philosophy. We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers.
9. The whole nation has watched with satisfaction how the Lagos State government has been grappling with the challenge of COVID-19. One hundred and twenty (120) out of the 238 cases confirmed in the country thus far are in Lagos, Nigeria’s former political capital which remains the nation’s melting point and Nigeria’s commercial headquarters. It has lived up to its reputation as the centre of excellence. If there are certain similarities between what the Anambra State Government and its Lagos State counterpart are doing in the battle against COVID-19, they may be traced to the search for excellence rather than phantom rivalry. Politically exposed persons should not see unnecessary politicking in everything, especially in these perilous times across the globe. There must be a limit to politics. Politically exposed persons should not allow their individual ambitions of contesting in the 2021 gubernatorial election in Anambra State to make them look like people without any sense of decency.
10. We reiterate for the umpteenth time that the Anambra State Government is not in competition for excellence with the Lagos State Government in the battle against the coronavirus. We are only doing what is right for our people. We are determined to save them as much as possible from COVID-19. We state with all sense of responsibility that we have done a very good job.
May God bless Anambra State, the Light of the Nation.
Adinuba is Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment.