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COVID-19: The outstanding governors in the pandemic season

COVID-19: The outstanding governors in the pandemic season
May 27
18:06 2020
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Douye Diri – Bayelsa State
Political Maturity, Diplomacy, Operational Clarity and Transparency

Senator Douye Diri was sworn in as Governor of Bayelsa State on February 14, 2020, the day the first Coronavirus index case in Africa was reported in Egypt and two weeks before the First Index case in Nigeria was reported on February 27, 2020.

Very few people, including the writer, expected Douye Diri to succeed in the manner he has managed Bayelsa State during this COVID-19 pandemic, especially as he has just been sworn on and the state was not in a particularly impressive financial position.

In line with the trend, Governor Diri was quick to sign into effect an Executive Order, which placed restrictions on movement and public activities in the state with a view to curbing the spread of the virus (SARs-Cov-2 virus).

The Executive Order put a close to most public activities such as gatherings, private and public schools, offices, places of worship, etc.

Recognizing the severe economic and social impact the order will have on the lives of the people of Bayelsa, especially as a majority of the people of the state depend on such daily movements and activities for economic sustenance, the Governor was quick to make exemptions to allow for the delivery of key essential services such as food, finance, electricity, drugs and a few others.

In other cases, the Executive Order was softened by exemptions, which could be obtained from the Governor’s office.

Governor Diri also set up the Bayelsa State COVID-19 Task Force, which he chairs, to directly oversee the management of the pandemic in the state.

He also empowered the state-owned Niger Delta University to begin the production of hand sanitizers.

Governor Diri also announced the scaling up of surveillance efforts and improved isolation facilities at the Niger Delta University (NDU) at Okolobiri.

One of Governor Diri’s outstanding performance areas has been his ability to rise above the rancorous and divisive politics of Bayelsa and extend a hand of fellowship to opposition politicians and the Federal Government with a view to managing the pandemic in the state.

This ability has been reciprocated in great measures as we have seen in the past few weeks.

It is in line with this vision of political maturity, diplomacy and reality that the state government welcomed and commended the Federal Government, NNPC, the Minister of State for Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva and the drive by the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) and its joint venture partners for the ground breaking ceremony of a 200-bed medical facility initiated by NAOC and sited in Bayelsa to cover the South-South region.

The land for the facility was expeditiously provided by the state and all necessary government process that was required for its take off was put in place without delay.

Thanks to Diri’s ability to manage human and scarce resources as well as an outstanding ability to manage effective relationships with key stakeholders in the Bayelsa economic space such as the Federal Government, security agencies, oil and gas companies operating in Bayelsa as well as the private sector. Bayelsa state has been able to manage much of its COVID-19 cases with no reported deaths and increasingly impressive report of recovery of reported cases.

Babajide Sanwo-Olu – Lagos State
Teamwork, Capacity, Relationship and Achievement

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s exceptional performance in leading the CoVID-19 (the disease caused by the Corona Virus) response has effectively cancelled out what began as a shaky and not too impressive leadership of Nigeria’s economic and commercial capital.

Sanwo-Olu’s delay in attending to the deteriorating road infrastructure and sanitary conditions around Lagos brought about issues and strong questions about his competence.

However, crisis and challenges seem to have brought out the best from the 54 year old former banker and politician.

Today, in the face of near absent and vacuous leadership at the center, Sanwo-Olu has become a a shining light and a beacon to exceptional leadership.

Sanwo-Olu strongest niche seems to be his ability to set up an effective team as well as an extraordinary capacity to delegate as well as work as an effective part of that team. This I believe, guides the story of why Lagos State has been such a success in the management of the CoVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.

After effectively managing the first CoVID-19 index case in Lagos State and in Nigeria, the Lagos State government set out on a mission for effective communication through various media and through community efforts.

To strengthen protocol and check the spread of the virus, on March 17, Governor Sanwo Olu and his team paid a visit to the Murtala Mohammed International Airport to carry out an assessment of some measures used to screen travelers coming into the country and state.

On March 19, Sanwo-Olu issued declarations limiting gatherings and events to no more than 50 persons and ensured that social distancing be observed. He also announced a closure of schools and centers of religious gatherings.

The Lagos State Government followed up with grassroot sensitization with fliers, radios and other channels.

This was backed up with a daily and regular evaluation of the State’s CoVID-19 Situation which led to the issuance of a 14 day work-from-home-order for Lagos Civil servants from Level-12 and above while giving instructions for adherence for social distancing rules.

In all, Lagos State has been able to build a team who have been strongly effective in managing the CoVID-19 pandemic in Lagos State centered on an empathetic relationship backed with effective communication with the people of Lagos State, constructive partnership and relationship with key stakeholders such as the Private sector and the Federal Government, most of whom maintain strong operational presence in Lagos State, the commercial and former Federal Capital of Nigeria.

These relationships have seen Lagos being the recipient of billions of naira of donor funding, equipments, facilities such as Food Kitchens across (Local Community Development Authorities) LCDAs, Isolation centers (donated by banks etc) and many other partnership objectives.

Seyi Makinde – Oyo State
Intelligent Governance: Science, Logic and Data. Intelligent/Smart Lock Down

52 year old, an Engineer and subject matter expert in Fluid and Gas Metering, Oluseyi Abiodun Makinde startled Nigerians when he declared his assets with a (Forty Eight Billion Naira) N48bn Net worth not too long after his inauguration as Executive Governor of Oyo State.

Seyi Makinde’s management of the CoVID-19 pandemic in Oyo State is said to be the most academic, creative, innovative and scientific approach in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

In managing the pandemic, Makinde relied foundationally on the use of Logic, Science and Data.

According to Governor Makinde, ‘Science required that we isolate infected people. Logic dictates that we consider our socio-economic factors before deciding on control and containment measures. Data will continue to help us improve on our environmental strategies for a prosperous state. If we do not take these things into consideration, our strategies will fail’.

As a result, Oyo State was able to independently build its own Testing infrastructure including Drive-Through Testing with the support of key private sector health groups such as the Ibukun Awosika led Citizen for Citizen Foundation which donated 2000 testing kits, and the certification of the Nigerian Center for Disease Control (NCDC).

This unique testing strategy and mapping methodology enabled the detection of not just CoVID-19 positive cases, but also analyze virus behavior across the state and enable the mapping out of the state.

Using this Data, and building upon on its innovative and creative application of Logic and Science, the Oyo State Government was able to decide that the state could safely remain open for economic activities.

The Makinde administration also acknowledged that Social Distancing was an usual culture that was not innate to the people.

As a result, instead of taking a hard line approach on enforcement of social distancing guidelines, the government applied the use of Logic to guide it as they invested heavily in the sensitization and incentivization of the people to encourage them to adhere to the guidelines.

Clearly, the Oyo State Model seems to have built a successful model that is worth emulating and replicating across states of the Nigerian Federation.

Professor Babagana Zulum – Borno State
Efficiency, Teamwork, Prudent Use of Resources, Capacity and Dexterity

A Professor of Agricultural Engineering, Babagana Zulum inherited one of the most challenged states (pre CoVID-19) in the Nigerian federation.

With his state attacked and bombarded on all flanks by the Boko Haram terrorism group and a rising number of internally displaced persons on hands, Professor Zulum fell back on his experience and ability as a conflict manager and an efficient manager of resources to manage the CoVID-19 situation in Borno State.

Thanks to the presence of the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital which is well equipped and elaborate enough to manage a scalable measure of testing, the State Government has been able to achieve a controlled outbreak of the Corona virus scare in the State.

The Governor was also quick to set up a CoVID-19 Executive Response Team led by the Deputy Governor of the state with the Commissioner for Health as Secretary.

For a state whose population preferred to live in denial, the State Government carried out sensitization programmes and deeply varying levels of lockdowns to contain the spread and scare of the virus.

In spite of its challenges, Borno State has fared well in this pandemic.

Kerley is President of the Niger Delta Enterprise Initiative and can be reached via [email protected]

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