By Uzor Maxim Uzoatu
It struck me as remarkable how Anambra State has been tackling the COVID-19 pandemic with methodical communication.
To get a well-informed grip on the matter, I took a trip to the office of the Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr. C. Don Adinuba. At the second floor office in the Jerome Udoji Secretariat, Awka,
I asked the commissioner’s personable Personal Assistant (PA), Uzordimma Enzo Nzeribe: “Abi Commissioner dey for seat?”
Mr. Nzeribe took time to inform me that Commissioner Adinuba does not take kindly to people speaking Pidgin English and would not even want the honorific of being addressed as “Commissioner”!
Mr. Adinuba is simply C. Don, and he runs an open office where information dissemination and public enlightenment flow seamlessly.
Adinuba does not want any credit being given to him personally but attributes all the successes to his principal, Anambra State Governor Chief Willie Obiano.
It is noteworthy that Anambra State created the record of holding a first-time virtual Executive Council Meeting (EXCO) on Monday, May 4, with Governor Obiano presiding. This of course underscores Anambra State’s exemplary role in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the COVID-19 battle, Governor Willie Obiano has obviously chosen, according to Adinuba, the words of Chinua Achebe in The Trouble with Nigeria “to rise to the responsibility and to the challenge of personal example, which are the hallmarks of true leadership.”
The success of Anambra State has of course led to envy with some jaundiced antagonists attributing the landmark achievement to luck or divinity or whatever.
The crucial factor is that the Anambra State government began the campaign against Coronavirus before any other government in Nigeria, whether federal or state, Adinuba asserts.
Way back, on January 27, when COVID-19 was still a Wuhan-based epidemic in China that was known to the outside world for only one week, Adinuba had on behalf of the state government issued a well-publicized advisory to the people of Anambra State against travelling to China.
The drive against the contagion by the state authorities was based on the fact that “people from Anambra State are without question the greatest travelling Nigerians while the state also has the largest open markets.”
From the very beginning of the spread of the epidemic, Governor Obiano kept the people informed through personal regular addresses.
Throughout the lockdown of the state, nobody was in any doubt about the measures being taken by the government and the concomitant palliatives put in place to cushion the effects of sitting at home as a result of COVID-19.
Empathy is a strong plank of leadership, Adinuba informs, stressing that Governor Obiano knew that the inconveniences engendered by the lockdown would take a toll on the return to a bit of normality. The governor duly empathized with the people.
Through the galvanization of the people, Anambra State has shown that it remains the leader in self-help. Well-to-do individuals in all the communities have been outdoing one another in the supply of palliatives to the poorer people following the lead of Governor Obiano.
Anambra Rice has been appearing everywhere. Not even foreign rice can compete. Governor Obiano is indeed relentless, stressing: “We are optimistic that we shall demonstrate as much commitment in fighting together to protect our state from the corrosive impact of COVID-19 as we did all through the lockdown period.”
Easing the lockdown of course came with multiform responsibilities. The governor did not mince words in stressing that anybody stepping out into public spaces must wear a face mask. A COVID-19 law has just been enacted.
There has thus far been a sustained search across all Anambra communities for people with COVID-19 symptoms. The NCDC, WHO and UNICEF have all given the assurance to support Anambra State in the effort to battle COVID-19 out of existence.
It is a mark of Anambra State serving up examples for other states to follow, Adinuba stresses, that it is now the schedule for teachers to undergo a comprehensive COVID-19 training in readiness for the eventual opening of schools to the pupils at the right time.
The markets have since opened shop after the comprehensive completion of COVID-19 Training for all the market leaders in Anambra State.
Adinuba insists that nothing is being left to chance in the COVID-19 war in Anambra State as all the boundaries with neighbouring states remain completely closed.
In Governor Obiano’s words, “Only people on essential services and haulage trucks with essential commodities are allowed passage after a thorough check and confirmation by the security personnel at the boundaries. We are working very hard to seal off all bush paths that are being exploited by unscrupulous transporters to the detriment of our beloved state.”
The communication that seals the deal is the almost telepathic understanding between Governor Obiano and the Commissioner C. Don Adinuba. The commissioner answers all questions without ever saying that “I have not been briefed” as is always the ready recourse of commissioners and sundry functionaries in other states.
What the success in the COVID-19 battle by Anambra State clearly shows is that it takes astute preparation and consummate hard work to make miracles happen.