Prof. Balarabe Maikaba, a former Head of Department of Mass Communication at Bayero University Kano is dead.
His death was confirmed by Dr. Ashir Inua of the Faculty of Mass Communication in a statement on Sunday.
Maikaba joins a short list of academics from the Bayero University Kano and Northwest University, who have been especially hit hard by unexplained deaths in a midst of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.
On Saturday, the deaths were announced of Prof. Ibrahim Ayagi, a professor of Physiology; Prof. Aliyu Dikko, a former deputy vice chancellor of BUK and Nasiru Bichi, secretary of student affairs at North West University, Kano.
None of their deaths and the larger number of deaths of prominent citizens to hit Kano in the past week has been acknowledged to be as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic by the state government.
However, a number of prominent academics and public health professionals in Kano to write open letters to President Muhammadu Buhari over what they believe to be Governor Abdullahi Ganduje’s callous attitude in responding to the outbreak of the COVID-19 in the state and the resulting deaths, which the state government us determined to hide by intimidating cemetery workers into silence.
They say the outcome of the governor’s ineptitude would be catastrophic spreading to all of Africa, without a presidential intervention.
In three separate letters betraying a sense of desperation by Usman Yusuf who is a Professor of Haematology-Oncolgy and Bone Marrow Transplantation, Dr. Muktar Ahmad and Aliyu Ma’aji, they asked the president to urgently take steps ranging from declaring a state of emergency in Kano, to acknowledging the deaths that are rising daily, relocating the presidential task force on COVID-19 to the state and even sending in the army to enforce a total lockdown of the state.
Dr. Ahmad in his open letter to Buhari, accusing the governor of failing to prepare for the pandemic said, ‘’Your Excellency I fear the situation in Kano is out of control and could take the rest of the country into a disastrous spiral.
“We have got to a point that only the declaration of a state of emergency in Kano will rescue the situation. 21 years of personalised government and denudation of the civil service and civil structures has joined forces with Covid-19 in wreaking disaster among our people”
Aliyu Ma’aji, who was even more scathing about the governor’s response said, “Kano State is the single biggest public health risk and imminent catastrophe facing the entire sub-saharan Africa. In the entire federation, it is the only state that has proven completely incapable of managing its health systems and exercising control over public movements and enforcing restrictions on religious congregation.”
He added, “Sending the NCDC there to take over the COVID-19 management process from Ganduje’s naive, young and inexperienced daughter (who only has an MSc in public health) is not enough. A state of emergency should be declared and federal troops moved in to enforce a total lockdown before KANO singularly plunges the whole sub-continent into a Corona disaster of scriptural proportions, wallahi.”
Prof. Yusuf expressed horror at the state government’s ”cavalier response to this pandemic seeing it as a growing danger to the lives of people in Kano, its neighbours and also a threat to our National Security.”
He recommended for immediate and forceful Federal presence in Kano.
The Presidential Task Force, he said, should relocate to Kano and make it its new theatre of operation reporting to the President and people should immediately be provided with food supplies to enable humane but strict enforcement of total lockdown, which remains the only way of breaking the spread of the virus
As to where things stand in Kano right now, Yusuf said, “There are also reliable reports indicating that cemetery workers in the city have been censored and directed by State officials not to give any interviews divulging the number of burials. The Kano State Government (KNSG) is clearly downplaying and denying these deaths just like officials in Wuhan, China did at the beginning of the pandemic.”