So much has been said about what has simply become popularly known as Coronavirus. For an ailment as old as less than three months, the kind of desperate attention it has attracted has been quite overwhelming. In fact, it is comparable only to what was experienced when HIV/AIDS first came to the fore in Nigeria in the early 1980s, particularly in terms of the mystery surrounding what it really is, and its fatality.
This mystery surrounding the virus, like it was in the days of HIV/AIDS, has resulted in different people giving their own version of how the virus originated, what its symptoms are, how it can be contracted, and how deadly it is, based especially on what information is at their disposal. Some of this information is actually based on hearsay.
The most popular one of how the Coronavirus originated is that it was got from a bat soup, or soup made from snake. In what could be seen as a flip side to this, the impression widely given is also that the Coronavirus was got from the Chinese habit of eating raw things: rat, frog, fish, cockroach, etc.
Coronaviruses according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) were identified in the mid-1960s and are known to infect humans and a variety of animals (including birds and mammals). Since 2002, two Coronaviruses-infecting animals have evolved and caused outbreaks in humans: they are SARS-CoV (2002, Betacoronavirus, subgenus Sarbecovirus), and MERS-CoV (2012, Betacoronavirus, subgenus Merbecovirus).
In 2002–2003, SARS-CoV affected 8,096 people, causing severe pulmonary infections and 774 deaths, with case fatality ratio of 10%. Bats were said to be the likely origin of the virus, which spread further to Himalayan palm civets, Chinese ferret badgers and raccoon dogs sold for food at the wet markets of Guangdong, China.
MERS-CoV was identified in 2012 in Saudi Arabia and since then the majority of human cases have been reported from the Arabian Peninsula. Human-to-human- transmission, particularly in healthcare settings, has been the main route of transmission. However, dromedary camels are important animal reservoirs of the virus. The case fatality ratio of MERS-CoV infections is estimated at 35%.
In December 2019, a novel coronavirus, christened “2019-nCoV”, was first isolated from three patients with pneumonia, and was connected to the cluster of acute respiratory illness cases from Wuhan, China. Genetic analysis revealed that it is closely related to SARS-CoV and genetically clusters within the genus Betacoronavirus, forming a distinct clade in lineage B of the subgenus Sarbecovirus together with two bat-derived SARS-like strains.
Contrary to what is widely said about how the present Coronavirus originated, and given the fact that no clear origin has been given, a somewhat plausible explanation was given by a senior Chinese military intelligence officer who went on Absence Without Leave (AWOL) after his wife and child were allowed to contract the virus, thus compelling him to break his silence on the truth about the virus.
Expectedly, for security reasons, he excluded his identity. But his explanation turns out to be too good to ignore as it lays bare facts that only an insider can have.
According to him, the “Coronavirus” outbreak is far worse than the media are telling the world, and that its origin is not directly from any animal, but from some biological tests carried out by a laboratory close to the densely populated Wuhan animal market in China, but was intended for a different purpose.
“You will have heard that it originated in Wuhan, an industrial city in China, and that it came from an animal, most likely a bat or a pangolin, that was sold in a wild animal market. You will have been told that it is an influenza-like illness that can in severe cases cause pneumonia, respiratory failure and death.
“Finally, you may have heard that although the disease is highly infectious, it is dangerous only to the elderly or to those who have a compromised immune system. The official lethality rate is approximately 2% or so.
“All of that is a bunch of lies concocted by the Chinese state with the tacit support of the U.S. deep state and its friends in the European Union, Russia and Australia, and spread by the docile media in all of those countries”, he said.
The Chinese intelligence officer stated categorically that what is now christened “coronavirus” or “COVID-19” was, in fact, a biological experimentation meant for use to make anti-government protesters in Hong Kong become docile.
Unfortunately, after testing the substance on identified human subjects, who were mostly seen as people that were one way or the other opposed to the government, they found out that beyond making the subjects docile, it later killed them slowly, but painfully.
“They developed massive internal bleeding; the walls of their arteries dissolved; they bled out of their eyes and orifices, and their tissue disintegrated. To put it in a more direct Western manner, they started to ‘melt’. Death usually occurred through multiple organ failure. This was preceded by at least five days of severe agony which could not be alleviated by painkillers.
“We decided that our Agent was unusable. It was far too destructive for our purposes. We wanted the population of Hong Kong to submit to us; we did not want to exterminate it”, he said.
By this time, however, the Americans had developed interest in it. According to him, “They hinted that they wished to use it to resolve certain difficulties in Venezuela. Normally we would have agreed, as we maintain friendly relations with the CIA, but given the extremely toxic nature of the Agent, we declined”.
This did not deter the CIA, which at this point was convinced that the Chinese had developed something very powerful and wanted to keep it to themselves. They offered a great deal of money to one of the Chinese researchers, who agreed to sell them a specimen.
“We found out just in time for the handover and tried to stop it from happening. In the ensuing shoot-out (which was never reported anywhere), several dozen people were killed”, he said.
At the end of the day, the traitor agent escaped. But in the shoot-out that took place at the Wuhan wild animal market, which was just the location where the CIA was supposed to receive the sealed vial containing the Agent, the vial shattered when it was dropped by the traitor who had agreed to sell it to the Americans.
“Of course, we could not keep such a huge undertaking secret, so we decided to order our state media to report that a ‘Coronavirus’ had broken out in Wuhan. In reality, of course, there is no coronavirus. It was all made up”, he said.
For various reasons, this explains a lot about how the Coronavirus came to be. The right or wrong of it can be scrutinized later, but right now, the fact that before now the Chinese have been eating whatever they may be eating without a sudden outbreak of coronavirus gives credence to the present situation.
As at last Friday, more than 100,000 people have been diagnosed with the infection in more than 80 countries. The virus has already shown that it has the potential to kill, particularly vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, and people with underlying health conditions.
It is also highly contagious, and a lot is not known about it since it was only discovered some weeks ago, and for which the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global public health emergency in January.
As the virus makes its way across the globe, different countries are taking different precautionary steps to prevent it, and also to check its spread should the need arise. In Nigeria, the Federal Government has taken various preliminary preventive measures. The same thing with some states, especially after the rumoured diagnosis of an Italian found to be infected, though with no other detail.
In Rivers State, the government, through the state Ministry of Health, has commenced various preventive measures. These include identification of persons with possible fever associated with the coronavirus, provision of facilities to quarantine infected persons, training of ad-hoc medical staff to attend to infected persons, etc., while also outlining preventive measures to be taken by residents, in accordance with WHO recommendations.
The recommendations include: regular washing of hands with soap, especially when soiled; washing hands with sanitizers made with alcohol, and observing sneezing or coughing etiquettes.
Meanwhile, various efforts are being made to come up with a cure, or vaccine for the Coronavirus. A notable effort is the one by Inovio Pharmaceuticals in Sorreno, San Diego, California, United States which, last week, after a three-hour marathon research, came up with a vaccine for the virus.
“It only took three hours for these smart minds to come up with what may stop the global spread of a deadly virus that has all but turned major neighbourhoods in China into ghost towns with tens of thousands in quarantine, and suffering from this virus”, a monitored statement said.
Reports in Nigeria say a group of four scientists is working to develop a vaccine for Coronavirus, for which Federal Government has earmarked the sum of N36 million.
As the world remains tensed over expectations of what Coronavirus holds, anxiety over its prevention and cure continues.
The Wike That I Know
Several comments, interpretations, narratives and theories have greeted the recent letter written by Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike of Rivers State to President Muhammadu Buhari, expressing the sincere appreciation of the Rivers State Government and people to Mr. President, for approving the sum of N78.9 billion to the state, as refund of monies expended by the State on federal projects in the state.
Most of these responses have either been mischievous, absurd, totally misleading and some even trying to conjure and configure fabulist narratives, celebrating the mystique and magical influence of the power of money on the human psyche.
But the most remarkable of these is the one written by Femi Adesina, the Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity, titled: WIKE VINDICATES BUHARISTS.
To be sure, Femi Adesina’s opinion on any topic immediately attracts considerable attention and commands tremendous weight, not just for the fact that he has been a seasoned journalist over the years, but indeed in recognition of his status as the Special Adviser to Mr. President Buhari on Media and Publicity; which makes him one of the recognized spokespersons of our President, whose views unequivocally represents the opinion of the Presidency in all matters.
It is therefore, in due cognizance of this latter responsibility and authority of his portfolio, that one must appreciate and commend Femi Adesina for his endorsement of Governor Nyesom Wike’s decision to thank President Buhari for approving the refund of N78.9 billion to Rivers State, and also the quite remarkable request for the President to oblige Rivers State with a State visit.
Of course, Femi Adesina’s admiration of Governor Nyesom Wike and his bold Thank You letter are embedded copiously in his article, though couched in the unerring profiling of the Rivers Governor in some lyrical passages and in some truculent, pro-Buhari obsessiveness in others.
The point needs to be made unambiguously, that the Rivers State Government, by way of emphasizing what Governor Wike rightly stated in the letter, appreciates the magnanimity of President Buhari,with profound gratitude and deep sincerity.
It was Aesop, the legendary Greek fabulist and writer of fables, who said that “Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.” There is certainly no doubt that one man who stands tall and proud, courageous and fearless with great nobility in today’s political space, is definitely Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike.
For instance, what Femi Adesina describes as “crying wolf” and “pontificating” is nothing more than the ability to say and do things which other people are too frightened or lily livered to say or do; what we refer to in Nigeria as “dying in silence. ”
What Mr. Adesina surely knows is that one virtue that Governor Wike possesses is courage. He has never hesitated to call anybody out including the President, his own party members and even multi-nationals operating in Rivers State, whenever the need arises and Adesina himself, has already agreed, by confessing to responding to some of these wolf cries in his write up, that these calls were necessary at the time they were made.
If Governor Wike’s courage to speak up when others are silent and cowering in fear, leads to the approval of the refund of the N78.9 billion which the Federal Government owes Rivers State, then the expression of gratitude that recognizes and appreciates such appropriate magnanimity is the highest form of nobility.
Like Mr. Femi Adesina rightly pointed out in his essay, the Federal Executive Council (FEC), chaired by President Buhari, approved the REFUND of N148 billion to five states in the country for repair of Federal roads, for which Rivers State got N78.9 billion. But that is not even half the story.
For the avoidance of doubt and to set the records straight, it will be germane at this juncture to tell the true story of the refund and set the records straight, as presented by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, once and for all.
Giving a background to the reimbursement, Lai Mohammed had explained that the decision was sequel to a huge bill sent to the federal government by the entire 36 states of the federation in 2016, seeking a refund of funds they expended on the repair of some federal roads in their respective states.
He said: “You will recall that in 2016, 36 states of the federation sent a very huge bill to the federal government, asking for compensation for money that they have expended on federal roads. This prompted Mr. President to set up a committee to go and verify the claims of these 36 states, whether indeed, these projects were actually constructed. Were they completed in line with the federal government standards?
“At the end of that exercise by an inter-ministerial committee, chaired by the Minister of Works and Housing which also had ministers of education, transportation (and immediate past Governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi), minister of finance, minister of state for works, Director-General of the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) and permanent secretary, cabinet office as members, the committee recommended that the federal government should refund N550,364,297.31 billion to 31 of the 36 states, after they were convinced that, yes, indeed, the projects were completed and they were federal government roads.
“But the claims of five other states – Cross River, Rivers, Ondo, Bayelsa and Osun – failed on the grounds that they did not do proper documentation and the committee felt they needed proper documentation. So, the committee went back with new terms of reference to ensure that the claims of the five states were in order. That is why the BPP is on the committee.
“So, at the end of the exercise, the committee now reported that the five states – Cross River with 20 roads and one bridge will get a refund of N18,394,737,608.85; Ondo with six roads to get a refund of N7,822,147,577.08, and Osun with two roads and one bridge to get a refund of N2,468,938,876.78.
“Others are Bayelsa with five roads and one bridge to get a refund of N38,040,564,783.40 and Rivers with three roads and three flyover bridges is to get a refund of N78,953,067,518.29.”
From the above therefore, three important points stand out for particular interest and reference, viz:
1. The money is neither a generous loan gift or a desperate bailout package as people like Femi Adesina are shaping the narrative to sound, but a REFUND of monies already spent by Rivers State on Federal projects.
2. Rivers State was initially denied the refund until proper documentation was provided; a situation which many Rivers watchers will recall, prompted the Minister of Works, Babatunde Raji Fashola, to visit Rivers State in March this year.
3. Rivers State got the approval for the amount of refund simply because Rivers State did the most comprehensive, qualitative and enduring projects.
For record purposes, let us state clearly that President Buhari has the authority to visit any state he wants to in Nigeria, whether he is Invited or not. He is the father of the nation and Rivers State enjoys a candid, honest and robust relationship with the present Federal Government, especially the presidency.
On August 19, 2017, Governor Wike was among the dignitaries that welcomed President Buhari after 103 days in London where he received medical treatment for an undisclosed illness.
While naysayers were busy misinterpreting the gesture, Governor Wike explained that no sane person would not be happy that his sick President was back home.
Recall alsonthat Governor Wike was the first PDP Governor to congratulate President Buhari after his second term election victory was upheld by the Supreme Court in September last year. Indeed, the warm, cordial, respectful relationship between President Buhari and Governor Wike, captured in several widely circulated photographs, of the President’s visit to Rivers State to commission the international wing of the Port Harcourt international airport speaks volumes.
We need not also remind Mr. Adesina that as far back as February 2017, when Governor Wike was not even up to two years in Office, he had already been christened “Mr. Projects” by none other than the Vice President himself, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, who not only affirmed that Rivers State was an important state to Nigeria and the Federal Government, but has since endeared himself to Rivers State and Governor Wike.
This brings us nicely to the part of the letter where Governor Wike unequivocally appeals to President Buhari to honour Rivers State with a Presidential state visit and we ask Mr. Femi Adesina: ‘what is wrong with the Rivers State Governor inviting the President for a state visit. Is he not the Father of the nation again. Is Governor Wike not one of his children?
Considering the fact that the approval for the refund was also made for monies expended by Rivers State for Federal Projects, isn’t it equally apt that Governor Nyesom Wike should invite Mr. President to come and at least see the work for which the refund was made? Indeed, it will also provide Mr. President the grand opportunity to see first hand, the amazing and fantastic infrastructural wonders which Governor Wike is delivering in Rivers State. This is absolutely the right thing to do by a grateful recepient.
Governor Wike has aptly pointed out that the decision to thank Mr. President and the appeal to invite him for a state visit was not a personal one, but a collective decision taken by the State Executive Council, to assure Mr. President that all is well with Rivers State and Rivers people are quite happy with him for approving the refund.
Like Femi Adesina correctly noted in his article, the N78.9 billion cannot be the reason for Governor Wike’s thank you letter and invitation to Mr. President. According to him: “I don’t think so. Rivers is by no means a poor state. The amount is handsome, no doubt, but the state is oil rich, and can hold her own when it comes to finances. I don’t agree less with Adesina because Governor Wike does not speak from both sides of his mouth and does not play to the gallery. His moral upbringing makes him to speak the truth at all times not minding whose ox is gored.
Finally, it is important to commend Mr. Adesina for articulating and justifying the decision of Governor
Wike to thank Mr. President and invite him to Rivers State. There is absolutely no doubt, as he so succinctly pointed out, that millions of Buharists would have actually advised the President not to approve the refund to Rivers State, and while many of them are still wailing and bellyaching at the President’s magnanimity, the icing on the refund cake is the chagrin and consternation, which even Adesina admits, has greeted Governor Nyesom Wike’s letter in their camp.
While Rivers people will not complain that the money was actually reduced from the original amount and that it even took so long for President Buhari’s fairness and justice to touch Rivers State, while he has been fair and just to other states, we are all still very happy and grateful that this approval for refund has been made, finally.
Attempts by people like Adesina to make political capital out of the genuine stance of a statesman will not be bought by well-meaning Nigerians.
What makes Adesina’s grandstanding more worrisome is that he will never comment or let the world know how much the South-West States received as refund for federal projects executed in that part of the country.
Governor Wike’s letter of appreciation and appeal for a presidential state visit is thus a clear indication that what the people thought was lost has now been recovered. All is well that ends well and Rivers people are happy.
For the avoidance of doubt, the letter to Mr. President was delivered to Aso Rock, three weeks before it was published.
Governor Wike is not like Adesina who knows how to speak from both sides of his mouth. In 2008, he said this about the Chief of Staff to the President: “Gambari enslaved himself to please his paymasters. Now 13 years after, the shackles are still tied around his neck, threatening to asphyxiate him. What an eternal lesson for fawning bootlicking grovellers to learn. Old sins indeed have long shadows.”
Now that Gambari is Chief of Staff to the President, people have been asking if Adesina still sees Gambari’s sins’ shadows or he(Adesina) has turned to a bootlicking groveller?
There is no doubt that he is currently savouring the office of Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity as a compensation, having used his positions as former Editor-In-Chief of The Sun Newspapers and President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors to feather his own nest.
Adesina should be told that no amount of political mischief will turn Governor Wike from a hero to a villain in this matter.
The Wike that I know cannot be swayed by pecuniary interests. He will always stand for the truth and defend the interests of Rivers people.
Nsirim is the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Rivers State.
By Paulinus Nsirim
WIKE: Striving To Make Rivers State Safe
“Fundamentally, during the campaigns, we also promised to secure our State. No government is worth any value if it cannot guarantee the security of lives and property. I assure you that never for a moment will our administration be a captive of politics, when it comes to public security. We have the political will to fight, defeat crimes and criminality in Rivers State. There will be effective coordination, collaboration and synergy with the Federal Government, the law enforcement agencies and our community leaders in the prosecution of the war against cultism, kidnapping and armed robbery. We urge our people to fully co-operate with us in this direction.” – Nyesom Ezenwo Wike These were the words of Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike in his inaugural address to Rivers people on Friday, May 29, 2015, at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium ,Port Harcourt. Dispassionate analysts and Rivers watchers will agree that the Governor.
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