In the circumstances, when all hell appears to have been let loose in Kano, with the local public healthcare delivery system appearing to have been overwhelmed or to have collapsed, the direct intervention of the federal government and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to re-emplace the waning or degraded local capabilities and capacities is urgently required.


In my Facebook post of March, 24, titled “Coronavirus and Four Yoruba Proverbs”, I had advocated that Nigeria, in its fight against the spread of the COVID-19, should seek help from China and Cuba. I had stated, in part, that since it was China that birthed the virus in Wuhan, one of its cities, and swiftly, ahead of the rest of the world, contained the spread and incidence of the virus, Nigeria should approach China to share with us the solution to damming the spread of the virus.

Cuba, a country famous for its medical internationalism and humanitarianism, is currently providing medical assistance to many countries in South America and Europe in the fight against coronavirus, armed with its medications. The arrival of its doctors in Italy, at the peak of the coronavirus mass death in that country, was acknowledged globally and appreciated by Italians.

After that post, China (or some Chinese companies operating in Nigeria) sent some medical doctors (practitioners) to Nigeria, on the invitation of the Federal Government of Nigeria. As this was going on, Nigeria also received donations of some medical equipment and consumables from the Ali Baba Group.

Unfortunately, the arrival of the Chinese medical team was greeted with needless controversy. The Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) and some politicians led the charge, more or less declaring the Chinese team persona non grata in Nigeria. The Chinese, under our laws, are not qualified nor competent to practice medicine in Nigeria, they argued. Before they could do so, they must undergo the requisite medical certification training in Nigeria and be licensed to practice by the Medical and Dental Council in Nigeria, they further contended.

About the same time, the 5G technology link with COVID-19 conspiracy theories gained prominence. This added fuel to the fire. Since the Chinese are the promoters of the technology, their doctors must not be allowed to render any help in Nigeria, many argued.

The Nigerian Union of Journalists, in a ringing but stunning display of phenomenal ignorance, issued a press statement, claiming that Nigerian journalists were against the deployment of 5G technology in Nigeria, and the inroads of the Chinese to Nigeria, based on the rumoured linkage between COVID-19 and 5G.

…morbid anatomy that could have revealed the cause of the deaths is not being carried out. Strangely, however, State officials and traditional authorities have been reeling out “verbal autopsies,” ruling out coronavirus as the cause of deaths of the hundreds of persons who have died in the past couple of days.


And we can’t even forget in a hurry a particular pastor who engaged in eschatological sophistry and “technological heresy”, denouncing the 5G technology in a high-sounding, hifalutin attack. Like a “backslider in Christendom”, however, that pastor has since recanted in a backtrack, which, sadly, did not forthrightly, in unvarnished contrition, confess to his careless dissemination of viral falsehood.

If the NMA was constructive, it could have welcomed foreign medical intervention and expertise infusion, to fight coronavirus, at this dire time. The issue of accreditation, certification or licensing could be sorted out as a matter of mere bureaucratic formality, to enable the Chinese or Cuban doctors who may be invited to Nigeria to practice, under temporary licenses, dictated by exigency and emergency, especially when the professional qualifications of the medical personnel in their home countries are not in doubt.

But no. Professional territoriality, occupational protectionism and self-serving patriotism seemed to have blinded many.

Now, Nigeria is in trouble in Kano. Obviously mass testing for COVID-19 is not available in the State. People are dying. The healthcare delivery system in Kano State is in disarray, if not in a state of virtual collapse. Many medical practitioners and laboratory experts, carrying out skeletal COVID-19 tests in the State are said to have tested positive to the coronavirus infection. Sadly, the prevailing cultural and religious obligations demand that the dead be buried soon after death, “when the corpse is still warm.”

Thus, morbid anatomy that could have revealed the cause of the deaths is not being carried out. Strangely, however, State officials and traditional authorities have been reeling out “verbal autopsies,” ruling out coronavirus as the cause of deaths of the hundreds of persons who have died in the past couple of days.

In the circumstances, when all hell appears to have been let loose in Kano, with the local public healthcare delivery system appearing to have been overwhelmed or to have collapsed, the direct intervention of the federal government and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to re-emplace the waning or degraded local capabilities and capacities is urgently required.

This is where the Chinese and Cuban doctors (if their internationalist medical assistance had been solicited ahead of the current situation in Kano) could have come in. The resident doctors, under the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) are the foot soldiers and subalterns in the health sector. They work under the wings and supervisions of the medical consultants. Where they are few, where their strength is diminished or where the lack of motivation or personal protective equipment is discouraging them to function, the Chinese and the Cubans, under the NCDC and the Feds, can be deployed to replace the medical workforce or bolster its strengths.

The idea is not to supplant or undermine our Nigerian doctors and medical personnel, but to support them.

If Nigerians go to the “end of the earth” in the crave for medical succour, at normal times, at this abnormal time, when foreign medical help is brought to our doorsteps, except there are solid reasons to squirm and reject so generous an offer, our country should thankfully grab the gesture with both “hands”. After that, we can use our hand sanitisers.


It is also possible to deploy the foreign doctors to the interiors and the countryside to ensure that if the virus spreads to our remote villages and rural areas, Nigerians in these areas will not be left without attention. This is what projection and careful planning is all about.

Without any doubt, the Chinese’s budding but discernible trade and political expansionism on the African Continent remains a challenge that African countries must tackle. From the donation of the headquarters building of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa, the grant of future and country-mortgaging loans to African nations, to increasing dominance of Chinese construction and infrastructure-providing firms on the continent, Africa must be wary of “Greek gifts” from China, so as not to bring about a new form of “Chinese colonialism” in substitution of “western imperialism.”

Africa must also lend its voice to the call for the investigation of the origins, manifestation and management of COVID-19 in China. The trust of the international community in China over its management of coronavirus has broken. It is imperative that this trust is rebuilt. China must, therefore, come clean of what happened.

But here, our concern should be how to extirpate coronavirus, a pandemic which is currently is afflicting the entire globe, from our land. In normal times, Nigerians traverse the world, in endless medical tourism, searching for cure to the sicknesses that afflict them. Our people visit United States of America, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, India, Cuba, China, the UAE (Dubai), South Africa, etc., searching for medical treatments. Many die in these countries, while seeking medical attention.

When Nigerians travel out of the country to seek medical intervention, they do not bother themselves with the question of whether the doctors that attend to them are qualified or licensed to practice medicine in Nigeria, in the first place. They know they are not so qualified. They only desire to get well.

If Nigerians go to the “end of the earth” in the crave for medical succour, at normal times, at this abnormal time, when foreign medical help is brought to our doorsteps, except there are solid reasons to squirm and reject so generous an offer, our country should thankfully grab the gesture with both “hands”. After that, we can use our hand sanitisers.

Jiti Ogunye is the Legal Adviser to PREMIUM TIMES.