Not satisfied with the way he is handling issues surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, elders of the Efik kingdom in Cross River State, under the aegis of the Efik Leadership Forum have reported the governor, Prof Ben Ayade to President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Efik leaders said in a letter they sent to the president that the governor was mismanaging the COVID-19 issue and causing confusing from the way he was going about the entire matter.
Among those who endorsed the letter, which copies were also sent to the NCDC and the presidential task force on COVID-19 were Brbara James, Timothy Esu, Eyo Ekpo, among others.
In it, they said: “We write to draw your attention to these concerns and seek that the Federal Government intervene so that Cross River State does not become a danger to the nation in the COVID- 19 containment efforts
“In a memorandum to the governor of Cross River State, Senator Ben Ayade, dated April 2020, attached hereto, we set out our worries and made copious suggestions in line with known best practices for the state government’s consideration and action.
“ In a second letter dated 15th April 2020, the Cross River State branch of the Nigerian Medical Association also detailed its serious concerns on the State’s Covid-19 response and the state of its health sector.
“Indeed, subsequent public remarks by the Governor and his subordinates, particularly the State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Betta Edu, have given us greater reason to fear deeply for the safety of all residence of Cross River State.
“In an unrelated scientific field, he has touted patently false and misleading science as a basis for his actions. The governor’s various dangerous actions may have been overlooked as merely comical, but the supportive actions and pronouncements from the state commissioner for health and other acts of the government make us fear that the lives and health security of residents of the state have become endangered and are secondary to Gov. Ayade and his obviously misguided professional advisers.
“The State government has done very little to train, equip and deploy health personnel, build and equip healthcare facilities, laboratories and isolation centres in the state, drive home the message about the importance of testing, physical distancing and personal hygiene and generally prepare to contain the disease in the State.
“Yet, in contrast, the State Government has also made a big public relations show of distributing food items amongst a few communities in the state and locking down the state at its main land border at the Itu Bridge, even as other land and riverine entry points along the state‘s borders are very much in use.
“Mr. President, there is enough anecdotal evidence to support the belief that cases of the Covid-19 disease exist in the State. As a matter of policy, the state government has rejected even the smallest degree of testing, which means that contact tracing is out of the question.
“Cross River State is clearly not prepared to deal with the Coronavirus pandemic in any institutional manner or in accordance with known best practices. We are at the mercy of maverick behaviour by the governor and his commissioner for Health who between them are fully responsible for the extremely worrisome Covid—19 health situation in the state today.”
The elders urged Buhari to “direct the Presidential Task Force on Covid-I9. the Ministry of Health, the National Centre for Disease Control and other relevant agencies to immediately provide support to the State in the form of test kits, PPE, ventilators and trained personnel to be delivered to the three federal medical institutions in the state, namely the Navy Reference Hospital Calabar, the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital and the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital.
“Direct that accordingly, test stations be established in the said Federal medical institutions and urgently utilised in accordance with proper medical protocols for testing citizens of Cross River State for the COVID-19 virus.”