Kwara’s COVID-19 fight and the gale of half-truths
By: Ibraheem Abdullateef
Last weekend, the Kwara government did the needful. It released the statement of spending on the COVI9-19 from April 1st- June 29th, 2020. It reads N1.5bn. The government explained the sum comprise running costs, purchase of high-end medical equipment, renovation of COVID-19 related facilities, distribution of palliative among other things. But some state-based media outlets got the statement wrong and cast headlines that twisted the story. The damage to the government’s image was honestly undeserving.
However, for the sake of the record, Kwara doesn’t spend N17.4m daily in the fight against the virus in the state. We owe the right to good and factual news reports.
It is already a bad streak for everyone economically and socially that we can’t afford to be adding the menace of fake news to our table of problems. I hope the public takes note and disregards the misinformation while sieving stories that come their way in the coming days. We hold ourselves the duty of spreading true and factual news as patriotic citizens and not reports which undermine public trust and safety, and even sets the public up against some officials or the authorities.
Right on the trail, something similar happened. You could have heard on the radio a comment by a brother, Mr Abideen Opeyemi Olasupo during an appearance on Home Front, a programme on Sobi Fm earlier today where he cast doubts over Kwara’s stance on no payment of #47,000 for every COVID-19 test. I am happy to inform you that he made the comment out of fact, which he has since confirmed. The truth is Kwara pays no dime for tests today and the government’s website doesn’t carry such information. We should kindly note and hold on to the truth.
As the Kwara social media space is getting filled with lots of stories and reports of late, it is expedient to be very careful with consuming information so as not to be misled into forming a wrong judgment. That is what I have rightly learned from the whole recent happenings.
We can imagine all the thoughts we might have had over the reports which have turned out to be untrue. One may have been disappointed, broken, or even feel tricked by the authorities. What is certain is that we got emotionally charged or psychologically disturbed. As such stories are also capable of sowing doubts in our minds regarding COVID-19, it is safe to assume some persons would throw caution in the wind and contract the virus out of disbelief. That is the most dangerous path we could degenerate at this point.
Covid-19 is no respecter of anyone. Doctors, professors, imams, pastors, and many public officials have been sent to the sudden sojourn of no return. Whereas we all owe the debt of death, it’d be unwise to die out of sheer disbelief for what could kill easily. As it stands today, coronavirus is the biggest threat to humanity. We must take to precautions and be wary of consuming fake news from any men and women with a record of insincerity.
It is no coincidence that the World Health Organization identified fake news as a stumbling block to the fight against the virus worldwide. One must be very careful henceforth as people appear more and more desperate to break the news about the virus for every right and wrong reasons. Once bitten, twice shy.
It was a miracle no one made recourse to the N243m cash donation the government claimed to have received and not spending yet because it wasn’t appropriated. For someone with an eye for the positives, that is a great piece of news. That points to the reality of an executive government respecting the sanctity of the state assembly. This story put paid to the narrative some persons feed the public that the house bears no power over the state executive in Kwara. That is another thing to note. Aside from showing respect for institutions, it also reveals the AbdulRazaq-led government as one with a thing for probity and accountability.
That would draw me to the recent sack of aides. Over two permanent secretaries of the state ministry and other government officials have been suspended for one form of indiscipline or graft-related offenses with the investigation ongoing. It is a clean break from a rotten civil service and dirty corridors of power Nigerian state governments symbolise. What that means for the common Kwarans is that Governor AbdulRazaq would spare no one blocking or working against the state government’s growth vision. Astounding.
You could be surprised such a development never trended. Just like the purchase of the two new Mercedes-Benz ambulances to fortify the efforts against the pandemic in Kwara yesterday. But I am not. We need urgent reflection on the influencers and opinion moulders we follow. Policy and public programme analysis are far beyond having a wide follower base on social media but radiating robust knowledge on topics of discourse. It may, however, interest you that these people do not suffer the required knowledge base but are most sharply divided between emotions and reasoning. To hide such interest or desire which often borders on personal political and group ambitions, they hide under the thick shade of activism. The game is up.
But it is never too late to do good. They need to drop the hatred and malice for the government of the people, they need to come around to push the people-driven agenda conceived by the government to fruition. Simply put; collaboration, not opposition.
The facade is honestly falling off. It is high time the masses took the centre point of advocacy, AbdulRazaq should be given a fair chance as one who was voted and continue to do good by the people of Kwara in the last fourteen months. That doesn’t include sycophancy, please. But it would mean putting a stop to spreading fake news on the government and its officials’ activities, conjuring spurious allegations bordering on finances, and all other acts capable of damaging all the government’s developmental efforts like in the past few days. For God and country.
6th July, 2020.
9: 40 pm.