It is apparent that measures capable of preventing further spread and containing the pandemic COVID-19 in the country are put in place. This is obvious taking into cognizance how â€œstay at home orderâ€ was imposed on some cities. And it is commendable how development partners, civil society organization, institutions, etc are all contributing to the Prevent the Virus Campaign in their various ways, means and capacities.
But, the Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) after deploying 15 monitors to assess the response mechanism of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) for two days is highly concerned by the manner in which the centre manages information request from Nigerians on the pandemic or Nigerians wanting to give information to the centre on the pandemic particularly using the Twitter handle of the centre and itâ€™s phone lines for SMS and WhatsApp. The three mediums are not serving Nigerians since their concerns/questions are either completely not responded to or in rare cases responses are received hours or days after one sends request. Of the multiple requests our monitors sent to the centre using the three mediums, the centre only responded to one after seven hours, all other over forty-five (45) requests/questions/concerns raised by our monitors were ignored. It appeared that NCDC uses itâ€™s Twitter handle only for giving statistics but not serious and prompt engagement with Nigerians on the pandemic, this is bad and will be a setback for the crusade against the COVID-19.
A similar disturbing experience is the manner in which the Kano State Committee on Infectious Disease handled a report from Kano State Hisbah Board, some people brought a dead body of a traveler who died on his way back from Abuja. Hisbah proactively refused to take the body and decided to contact the committee before taking any action on the corpse, but the committee has not responded despite being reminded for the period of more than five hours. After waiting for many hours and the committee could not show up for their examine the corpse, the deceased was buried.
- The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) should be responsive to questions/concerns/tip-ups from Nigerians particularly at this time of National emergency.
- NCDC should avoid either ignoring or delaying questions and concerns of Nigerians on the COVID-19
- NCDC must understand that population of Nigerians on social media platforms is significant and engaging with them will strengthen efforts at preventing the virus.
Kamilu Isah Ahmad
Social Media/Campaigns Officer,
Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD).