Coronavirus (1319) COVID-19 communication and community engagement (5)

9 July, 2021

[In response to Moses Orfega, Nigeria ]

I believe, and in my candid opinion, in the Nigerian case, we should acknowledge the relative compliance to both the COVID-19 protocols and the uptake of vaccination under the circumstances we found ourselves in. I believe both the Government and the people did well in counteracting and halting the slide. Lest we forget, Nigerians were among the most frequent fliers to almost all the COVID-19 hotbeds as at then, including to China, India, the UK, the US and South Africa yet we were able to effectively lessen the aftereffects of that intercontinental engagements.

The Social and Behaviour Change efforts and the efforts at countering fake news regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent vaccination efforts was and is still an integral part of the strategy adopted by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.

In summary (and in no particular order);

- Lockdowns were almost fully complied with at the height of the COVID incidence in Nigeria (markets were closed, people stayed indoors for weeks especially in Lagos, Kaduna, Kano and Abuja, and organisations adopted remote work)

- Airlines were strategically restricted from plying the Nigeria route (I don't want to use the word banned)

(Although not at a larger scale and not evenly spread) Governments at all tiers conducted decontamination efforts for weeks, especially at the height of the pandemic

- CDC resorted to weekly and often daily bulk messaging to all Nigerians encouraging Nigerians to adopt a positive health behavior especially during the lockdown periods

- GSM service providers dedicated most of their corporate social responsibility efforts on a 'on dial-up prompting messaging' and SMS messages also encouraging people to adhere to COVID-19 protocols

- The Governments also adopt a constant surveillance and rapid response approach to outbreaks during the onset of the pandemic, a case in point here is when we recorded incidence of mysterious deaths in Kano and Jigawa States of Nigeria just few weeks into the Official Declaration on the first case of COVID-19 in Nigeria. The Presidential Task Force dispensed experienced epidemiologists and other infectious disease experts to the states and they were able to apply contact tracing and autopsy to arrive at a conclusion that halted the ballooning of the mysterious outbreak which was confirmed not to be related to COVID-19.

And many other initiatives and measures that contributed immensely toward minimizing fatalities and incidents. The CaCovid Project [*see note below] supported by major companies and banks in Nigeria also played a critical role, because just as in counterinsurgency efforts of Government which require the military to win the hearts and minds of the host/victim communities, the palliatives shared to people during the lockdowns served as an incentive for people staying at home to observe the protocol.

To properly appreciate and put everything in context especially towards deriving a befitting awareness raising strategy around dispelling mistruths and half truths regarding the COVID-19 Pandemic and how it posed a threat to Africa and Africans or rather Nigerians, we must assess the political economy and other socio-economic dynamics obtainable before and after the onset of the pandemic on the region. This is because as we all know, the pandemic ushered in a very stiff and biting economic austerity and other difficulties.

Salisu Ahmed Koki

Communications Manager,

Renaissance Development Forum

(I have more than a decade experience in SBCC and Health Promotion across various health interventions in Northern Nigeria)

HIFA profile: Salisu Ahmed Koki is Communications Manager, Renaissance Development Forum. Koki is a Media Specialist/Right to Health Activist ased in Nigeria. Professional interests: Right to Health Campaign, Media Advocacy. sakoki AT

[*Note from HIFA moderator (Neil PW): The Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) is a Private Sector task force in partnership with the Federal Government, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) with the sole aim of combating Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Nigeria. ]