By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
Former director of All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Council on 2019 elections, Theodore Ekechi, has stated that he began early campaign on steps to be taken to avert the spread of Coronavirus pandemic due to the poor state of health infrastructure in Nigeria.
Ekechi who stated this while receiving the “Distinguished Nigerian Ambassador for COVID-19” award from the United Igbo Journalists Association, noted that one advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic, was that it brought to the fore the deficiencies and the failures of the nation’s healthcare system.
He also stated that it “served a very great lesson that the benefits of upgrading the healthcare facilities is not for the poor, not for the middle class, it’s actually and indeed for the high and the mighty”.
While commending the Federal government for implementing the six point agenda of his call to temporarily close the country’s entry points, ban public gatherings, shot public institutions, as well as schools, markets and worship places, the ex Information Commissioner in Imo state said all through his public life, journalists have provided a boost to his career.
Ekechi noted that he was encouraged by some journalists who helped him to spread the message, as well as parted him on the back for the campaign.
“I saw what was happening in China and America and I knew that these people were better than us. I saw how they were being disturbed by the disease and how we were at home. We in Nigeria, I knew we are like a crippled fowl which needed to start early to escape for its life in the time of trouble.
“He that seeks to catch a black goat must do so while the day is bright and not at nightfall. We are like people in darkness.
“Many people agreed that I said the truth. Many journalists that I called at that time encouraged me and helped to disseminate the message. Since I came into the public life, it is journalists that assist me. Even when the coronavirus took the centre stage in the country it is the journalists that helped me to spread the message.
He however stated that government had indirectly implemented his suggestions in phases to tally with the first 40 days he had called for ban of public events, schools, markets and worship places.
“I want to explain that it was not totally true that government did not heed my advice. You know that out of pride some people in government may not acknowledge your true advice. It is true that they did not write to commend me, if you examine their body movement, you discover that all my recommendations were implemented. But if they had implemented them exactly as we said it, we would have prevented so many things.
“I want to put it on record, as well as thank the Federal Government, they actually responded to that call, they may not have acknowledged it publicly. If you look at the six point agenda of my call they did all, they shot the schools, they shot the NYSC, they shot public institutions, they also restricted work for public servants that are not on essential services, they also banned seminars and workshops that are not essential, they mobilised the military, they closed our borders even though they did not close as at when due, they mobilised our healthcare centres, even though they did not mobilise enough.”