By Mumini AbdulKareem
How did Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq spend his time during his 14 days in isolation to determine his Covid-19 status? What was his daily routine like in a solitary and restricted facility among others?
These and many other questions have been a contentious subject of discourse among citizens and residents alike in the state, some of whom felt the Governor should not have concealed such information from taxpaying members of the public.
Calls for Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq to declare his COVID-19 status had heightened in the state recently after the late Chief of Staff to the President Muhammed Buhari, Abba Kyari tested positive, a situation that eventually led to his demise.
As one that reportedly had contact with the late CoS and other top government personalities and Governors that the late Kyari also reportedly visited, there were calls back home for the Abdulrasaq to take the test as the number one civil servants in the state so as not to expose other citizens to possible infection.
While the debate over the propriety or otherwise of the need for the public to be aware of the official status of the governor was still a thing of debate in the state, the Governor came out in a statement after a long absence from public space to say he had been in self isolation that warranted his protracted silence.
In a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Rafiu Ajakaye, the Governor said he proceeded into self-isolation shortly after returning from the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting in Abuja in full compliance with the safety protocols of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on COVID-19.
“Until now, I have remained in self-isolation shortly after returning from the National Economic Council meeting in Abuja on March 19. This is in keeping faith with the COVID-19 protocol that requires anyone with probable exposure to the virus, especially after travelling to frontline areas, to either self-isolate for 14 days incubation period or get tested to know their status,” he submitted.
But shortly after the Governor’s “revelation”, he came under serious attack from some stakeholders in the state for allegedly embarking on an undisclosed self-quarantine to determine his COVID-19 status, putting the citizens in the dark about his whereabouts for 14 days without proper delegation of duties to his deputy, Mr Kayode Alabi.
Speaking on the issue during a radio programme in Ilorin, the anchor of the Kwara State Stakeholders Consultative Forum popularly known as “Efunra”, Hon Ayanshola Muhammed described the governor’s action as an insult and display of lack of regards for the electorate that voted for him during the 2019 gubernatorial election in the state.
According to Ayanshola, the action of the Governor unfortunately impacted negatively on governance in Kwara State.
He said: “Before now, we have demanded and queried the whereabouts of our governor that he should come out and tell the people where he has been because his comment at times like this is a physiological relief for the people.
“What other governors who also embarked on self isolation did was to inform their people that they were going on self-isolation; they didn’t keep the people guessing because this is a democracy.
“And when he eventually came out of it, he didn’t even apologise to the people about his absence like it’s done in other civilised climes. It’s like he didn’t like Kwarans who voted for him”, he added.
Ayanshola said the governor’s action affected a lot of things during his absence and many things suffered for the period he was away.
In his reaction, a former House of Representatives member in the state, Hon Abraham Ashaolu in a telephone chat with National Pilot said “He (Governor) has a track record of not actually speaking to the people. That is his own style of governance and presiding over Kwara. That was why he didn’t even deem it fit to address the state at the beginning of this pandemic. It’s not the right attitude but unfortunately you don’t give what you don’t have, he cannot give what he doesn’t have and the state has been the worse for it”.
Also speaking on the issue, former Special Adviser Labour and Student Affairs to the Kwara State, Comrade Bisi Fakayode said the attitude of the governor has eroded the confidence entrusted on him by Kwarans.
“The Governor, Mallam Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq is abusing the confidence Kwarans reposed in him and he is getting to a point that…see in an ideal environment with the votes Kwarans cast for him, he becomes our property and we should know his in and out and everything about him. But his going into isolation or quarantine without informing Kwarans is an abuse and insult on all of us.
”There are three categories to this issue and even those governors that tested positive handed over to their deputy when they were leaving for isolation or quarantine and even went ahead to announce to the people and that their deputies will be in charge. In his own case, Governor Abdulrazaq held the state to ransom and he cannot exonerate himself from the outbreak and death recorded afterwards because it was as if the state was not prepared.
“…to compound the insult he is passing on us, when he came back from wherever he went, he didn’t even think that Kwarans deserve an apology.
”I know now that more than the average number of Kwarans that voted for him are seeing a different Abdulrahman today and Kwarans will do justice when it is time for them to talk.
”We even learnt that the budget given to the state Ministry of Health for the training of personnel were not even approved because the Governor could not be reached and he did not delegate his deputy. It wasn’t the Governor that went into isolation, he locked all of us and by implication, it was the state and the people that went into isolation for the whole 14 days. Everything just stood still”, the unionist added.
How Abdulrazaq spent time in Isolation
Although efforts to get the Governor’s to tell Kwarans how he spent his time in isolation proved abortive as he did reply to calls and WhatsApp messages sent to him, some of his closes aides and stakeholders in the party who are close to him offered a glimpse into the world of the Governor while in quarantine.
The message sent by our reporter reads in part:
“Sir, we want to congratulate you for your handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in the state so far which has made us one of the least infected states in the country and for personally embarking on a 14 days self isolation to reassure the citizens of your status and readiness to offer yourself wholeheartedly to serve the people of the state to combat the pandemic.
“Sir, as one who has hitherto been a very busy person because of the demands and dictates of the office as the Governor of the state before the outbreak of the coronavirus, we would like you to share with Kwarans what your daily routine was like during your time in isolation.
“We would be very glad Your Excellency if you share this rare first time experience with Kwarans vis-à-vis what time you start your day, read papers, watch/listen to news, have your workout, relaxation and how interesting it was for you sir among others”.
Meanwhile, a close aide to the Governor who does not want to be quoted because he was not authorised to speak on the matter officially, said Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq was practically alone during the period and did not even have access to his security.
During the period, the Governor also reportedly had time be part of the dissuasion on many social media platforms in the state including the popular Fresh Insight where he even gave thumps up to a respondent who made positively comment about state response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the first time he had done so since his emergence as the Governor of the State.
“(Although) I didn’t see him throughout the isolation period, but I didn’t ask him about it when he resumed. His security aides (also) had no access to him”, the close source added.
Another stockholder and a member of the APC told this reporter that the Governor was very active on the social media although he was silent most of the time; he was however monitoring activities on his phone.
“He was monitoring activities on phone and communicating with relevant officers. He was being briefed on the situation of things in the state and directed all that happened as far as responses and actions of the state government was concerned during the period of his isolation. He was mostly indoors and didn’t attend to any visitor”, the source added, confirming the argument that he didn’t hand over to the Deputy Governor”.
So what else did the Governor do when he locked himself down to observe a 14-day isolation? Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq may comment or come out with a memoir of this interesting period in his life soon or later.
By Mumini AbdulKareem