Govt doesn’t listen to experts – Prof Innocent Ujah
It is problem of politics of pressure – Dr Casmir Ifeanyi
By Sola Ogundipe, Chioma Obinna & Gabriel Olawale
As schools reopened in some states across the country on Monday in the wake of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Nigeria Medical Association has faulted the development saying that the government does not listen to the experts.
In a reaction, the NMA President, Prof Innocent Ujah, expressed doubts that Nigeria was adequately prepared for the challenge of reopening the schools.
Ujah, who called for better monitoring and supervision of the process, said lessons were yet to be learned from the pandemic almost one year after.
“What we have been saying is that this coronavirus pandemic is totally unprepared for. It is unfortunate that we have to be going round and round, the Nigeria Medical Association has said this before. What lessons have we learned one year after?
“The truth is that we have no statistics, as far as I know, of the number of schools that are ready – whether public or private – and what they should put in place. I think we are very sentimental as a nation, let us follow the advice of experts.
“If we know that children should go back to school what facilities have we put in place? We know that they should maintain the NCDC protocol, but what have we done in the schools? Our problem is that we do a lot of talking and do very little, it is also true that we do not listen to experts,” he remarked.
Describing Nigeria as an “interesting country” that is “full of contradictions”, he said whatever was the outcome of the reopening, whether in private or public, injury to one is an injury to all.
In his argument, Ujah explained that if the schools are to be reopened, adequate preparations should be in place and the process should be monitored.
“But who are those monitoring the process; who are those supervising the process, because we talk and don’t supervise. In Nigeria, unless you push, nobody works. We have been saying that everybody should comply with the NCDC protocol, and they have not been complying, but suddenly we are saying that everybody should go back to school, what evidence do we have?
“If the Ministry of Education has said so, who are the supervisors and where have they gone to monitor to confirm that what they have the evidence of compliance? It is not just sitting at the round table and saying that we want the schools to reopen and that there should be no problem.
“We have suffered this because people do not listen to experts who have cautioned from the beginning how we should stop persons from entering the country. We talked about social distancing and everything that we need to do scientifically. We cannot enforce anything, our own is to advocate and bring out the scientific component not the political or sentimental component of this pandemic.”
In his own response, a Medical Lab Scientist and Public Health Analyst, Dr. Casmir Ifeanyi, said the government succumbed to what he described as “politics of pressure”.
“Government caused the problem. Towards the end of 2020, when the PTF issued an advisory that schools will not be resuming anything earlier than the 18th of January, I had expected the Presidential Task Force, PTF, to review the advisory on the basis of public health data available to them.
“Unfortunately, that process has been disrupted with politics, the politics of pressure from uninformed parents, school proprietors who want to make a profit whether life is lost or not, and of course, the politics of people interested in the gain of COVID-19 escalation spending.”
Lamenting the non-compliance with the COVID-19 protocol by the public at large, he said there was no justification in keeping children at home if everyone was going on as if nothing was at stake.
“However, it must be said that aside from the schools, the markets are carrying on with reckless abandon of COVID-19 protocol. The shopping malls are doing the same, church and mosque activities are ongoing without observing COVID-19 protocol.
“We are having all manner of social gatherings without control, if you look at activities across the country in the name of NIN registration, then you can not justify keeping children at home further.”
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