It is no longer news that the COVID-19 curve is flattening nationwide. Even states that were the epicentres of the deadly virus are now having the desired breather.
This is heart warming but before we start to cling wine glasses, the world must not forget, and Nigerians must remember Governor Ben Ayade‘s mix in the whole gamut of COVID-19 trajectory in Nigeria. We must call to mind, the Ayade model, the COVID-19 Ayade model because it worked, because it is salutary.
The Cross River state governor who is a professor of Environmental Macrobiology was a seer and traiblazer as far as the virus was concerned. His unprecedented proactive measures which were initially jerred at, sneered at and ridiculed would turn out to be the antitode that kept the virus away from his state for a longtime.
And wait for this, the world would later copy him and the “home prophet” would later be applauded and cheered by his own people!
Essentially before COVID-19 eventually berthed in Cross River, the state was for a longtime the last state standing. And many were baffled.
Of the 36 states of the federation and Abuja, Cross River was for many months untainted by the pandemic even when neighbouring states were being ravaged by the scourge. This was a no mean feat achieved by Cross River people and their governor, largely through proactive measures and strict adherence to preventive protocols put in place by the government.
The granite truth is that though Cross River now has COVID-19 cases, one can not deny that the state and it’s governor fought gallantly to keep the virus at bay. This must be acknowledged by everyone.
COVID-19 crept into Nigeria in February and became a pandemic in March. For four months, Cross River fought valiantly, for four months, Cross River held out, even when neighbouring states were marooned in the virus.
How Cross River managed to remain free from the virus often sent queer, creepy sensation down the spine of critics but looking back, it is now clear it was no rocket science.
It was simply made possible by a thinking head. It is no secret that Professor Ayade trailblazed virtually all preventive protocols that were later adopted by the world as fighting tools against the pandemic.
For example, to curtail the spread of the virus into Cross River, Ayade was the first governor to seal all entry and exits points into his state and despatched personnel equipped with over 100 vehicles to monitor the border closure as well as compliance throughout the state.
As the governor would say, Cross River did not Lockdown but locked out the virus.
Even before the border closure, people coming into the state were thoroughly subjected to temperature checks.
Commercial vehicles and even Keke NAPEPE plying intra- state routes were subjected to a new seating arrangement in line with the COVID-19 preventive protocols introduced by the state.
Cross River was also the first to adopt the no masks no movement policy before other states, including even the Federal Government
And long before masks made from fabrics became a global fade, as opposed to the synthetic imported surgical masks, Ayade was the first to introduce its use, ordering the Cross River Garment Factory to mas produce it and distribute free of charge to Cross Riverians.
It is noteworthy that this was at a time when the World Health Organisation (WHO) said the use of masks made from fabric was useless in stopping the spread of the virus.
The world health body was to chew on its words after further studies proved their initial position wrong and recommended its use throughout the world.
Today, not only that Cross River produces millions of nose masks which are distributed to the citizens free, it also now manufactures Personal Protective Equipment, PPEs and face shields which are distributed free to medical personnel.
Essentially, Cross River remains a model on how to confront a deadly virus as COVID-19. That it took the state long to record cases of the virus should not surprise anybody because the state and its governor fought a good fight.
And now with an ultra modern drive-in testing centre established by the Ayade administration to make testing for the virus quick and more accessible to the people, it is crystally clear that the Cross River is well prepared for the aggressive management of the pandemic.
The result is the manifest daily declining cases in the state.
The Ayade COVID-19 model worked for Cross River, it worked for Nigeria and it worked for the world!
•Chidi Onyemaizu is Senior Special Assistant on Print Media to Governor Ayade