By Bala Ibrahim
Once again, Kano state government has denied the reported spike in deaths in the state.
Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, who was interviewed via Skype on NTA television last night, said the reported spike in deaths and burials were orchestrated by traders of fake news. Ganduje said his administration had carried out some investigations, and the results or findings came contrary to the submissions of the press. Good, very good, Your Excellency.
The Governor did not stop there, as he further disclosed that he had already signed into effect an Act that would lead to the arrest and prosecution of those spreading fake news on COVID-19. “There has been no unusual death in Kano State and I want to confirm that the reported deaths are not related to Covid-19. We have only one death arising from the pandemic so far.” Good, very good, Your Excellency.
I don’t know if there is any difference in the spelling of the word death, be it death by Coronavirus, death due to over feeding, over drinking or over air-conditioning in the other room. The bottom line is that people are dying, and so the press said.
Like every action, denial has its own repercussion, because it’s just a coping mechanism that gives one time to adjust to distressing situations. It’s one thing to deny, and a different thing to stay in denial, particularly where the challenges are dynamic.
If you are in denial, you are simply trying to protect yourself by refusing to accept the truth about something that’s happening. Denial results in a delayed response, which in this case, would lead to increase in the growth of infections.
Psychologists say in some cases, initial short-term denial can be a good thing, giving you time to adjust to a painful or stressful issue. But denial has a dark side.
Refusing to acknowledge that something is wrong can be a sign that something is wrong with you, because you may be battling with emotional stress, painful thoughts, that may perhaps be related to some conflicts of interest.
Since his return for the second time as the Governor of Kano, Ganduje has been under terrible tension, exerted politically from the outside, and allegedly mounted materially from the other room. It’s therefore not surprising if he acts the way he is acting.
Certainly when it comes to speed in enacting and executing laws, particularly Kangaroo laws, directed at, or intended to punish minor violations, the government of Ganduje is highly celebrated and undoubtedly unsurpassed.
Also, when it comes to the denial of justice or acting in contempt of court orders, the dictum in the government is, justice denied, is justice delivered. Good, very good Your Excellency.
However, it is important to draw the attention of His Excellency to one important issue, which is the issue of over stretching the elasticity of power, particularly power under democracy. The Governor might have succeeded in enacting and signing laws in seconds, and use the same laws with the same speed to dethrone an Emir without qualms, but it must not escape His Excellency’s mind to know that, with the press, it would be a humiliatingly lost battle, long before the start of the fight. Like no one had succeeded anywhere, it would never succeed in Kano state.
His Excellency’s advisers on legal and chieftaincy matters were probably not experienced or courageous enough to point out the consequences of the previous transgression, but his Commissioner of Information, who was one time the National President of the NUJ, and who knows the extent of confidence and boldness of the press, alongside the audacity of the members of the profession to resist intimidation, would surely advise him right.
The commissioner knows the magnitude of the stomachache he had with his colleagues, on the suppressed scandal involving the Governor, his principal. As such, he would never key into such mistake, no matter the power of influence, or the pressure behind the planned misdemeanor.
It may interest His Excellency to know that, while the Governor is denying the deaths, Abuja is not ready to do so, because they know and appreciate the value of lives.
At a press briefing yesterday Wednesday, the Chairman, Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, said the rising cases of coronavirus in Kano State have continued to be of concern to the Government, and they would not allow it to be downplayed. I hope Boss Mustapha, would not be amongst those to be charged under the planned law on fake news.
His Excellency also needs to be advised to extend the planned act of arrest to all complainants, including the medics that are in the frontline. The name of the Director of the Centre for Infectious Diseases Research, Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Prof. Isah Abubakar, must be the first on that list.
Profesdor Isah was among those that were patriotic enough to alert the nation, that the centre had run out of essentials like test kits, reagents etc. From the body language of Governor Ganduje on the television yesterday, that sounds like fake news.
There is the need for Governor Ganduje to borrow a leaf from the mistakes of President Donald Trump, who has consistently underplayed the severity of the coronavirus and its impact on America in particular, and the World in general. After a long period of denials and downplaying the catastrophe, America is now at a great loss, as millions of people are out of work, the nation is under lockdown, the healthcare system is on the brink of collapse, while many are dying daily due to the denials of Donald.
The Governor should not only know the consequences of the Covid-19 outbreak, but also what happens when leaders deny its severity. Their actions, or rather inactions, would make the pandemic worse, and all of us less safe, including the content of the other room.
Benjamin Franklin said, those who fail to prepare are prepared to fail. Denial and failing to plan go hand in hand with planning to fail.
I hope by these denials, Governor Ganduje is not planning to fail. Because that would hurt, more than help the state.
Mr. Ibrahim writes from Abuja.