At Last, Kogi Magic’s Formula

At Last, Kogi Magic’s Formula

Olatunji Dare

Of the 121,000 cases and 1,501 deaths from coronavirus disease in Nigeria as of January 23, 2021 (courtesy of Johns Hopkins University, which compiles and updates such figures from dependable sources,  not a single incident or fatality or rumour thereof has come out of Kogi State.

Daily, the media are awash with rumours and reports of Covid-19 hospitalisations and deaths, certified by the competent authorities. Most families grieve privately or bury their dead quietly.  Not a few buried theirs in rowdy ceremonies that defied the Covid protocols.

But there has been everywhere, a general acceptance that something malignant was in the air, and that the recognition of that reality is the beginning of healthy existence.  Everywhere, that is, except Kogi State.

The state governor, Yahaya Bello, dismissed it as a hoax.  He said, it was just a species of malaria and would soon vanish. The whole thing had been confected by corrupt medical authorities and political officials to extort funds from the Federal Government.   Being a God-fearing person sworn to transparency and propriety in thought, word and deed, he would play no part in that fraudulent scheme, he declared again and again.

Besides, on being admitted to the honourable society of accountants, he had pledged solemnly to abide by the ethics of the profession.  Nothing in the world, not even a so-called pandemic, was going to make him violate that pledge in letter or spirit.

And to show that he was not grandstanding, he rejected on the threshold any Covid-19 funds that might be allocated to Kogi. Nor would he allow into the state the concoctions being touted as remedies for the disease.

Whether they came out of the most reputable laboratories in the world or bear the imprimatur of the world’s leading epidemiologists, you have Bello’s word that those concoctions are no better than refined poisons, the sole object of which is to kill Nigerians in the tens of thousands.  The indecent haste with which they were produced and rushed to the market – with far less rigorous testing than a toothpaste would undergo:  is that not proof enough of the evil designs of their promoters?

Fortified by their governor’s assurances, Kogi residents went about their businesses as they had always done, mingling freely in groups large and small to celebrate one thing or another, congregating in places of worship and journeying back and forth. The state remained open for trade and commerce and social intercourse from all corners of Nigeria.

While they were running out of hospital beds and intensive care facilities in other states, there was not a single hospitalisation in Kogi.  While medical personnel in other states were dying or stretched to the point of physical and mental exhaustion, their counterparts in Kogi said they had never found their work so agreeable.

While “mysterious deaths” stalked communities across the country, it was all fun and gaiety and laughter in the Confluence State. Investors fleeing other states found a safe, lucrative harbour in Lokoja, the Kogi state capital.

Governor Bello’s confident assertion that his domain was off-limits to the coronavirus was no idle boast, it turned out.  The virus never found a way of insinuating itself into Kogi, not even in its serial mutations or permutations.

Nigerians were mystified.

What was it about Kogi that made the coronavirus keep a respectful distance from it even as the virus ravaged other parts of Nigeria with implacable malignancy?

Army generals, university professors, industry barons, top civil servants, senior clergy across the faiths and regular folk, old and young, featured prominently in the daily bulletin as victims or casualties of Covid-19.

But not in Kogi. The place seemed like a world apart, a bubble, in which the tens of thousands came and went day in and day out and automatically acquired Covid immunity in the process.

Instead of entreating Bello to share with the rest of the country the magic formula he has employed to keep Kogi off-limits to Covid-19 in whatever mutation or permutation, they pilloried him and called him all manner of names.  They said he was anti-science, and that he combined pitiful ignorance with brazen arrogance.

But the laugh, alas is on them.  The facts on the ground have confirmed his foresight and wisdom.  So, he just sat back and watched as hospitalisations and deaths from Covid-19 mounted across the country. Kogi stood out as the lonely exception, envied at home and revered abroad as an African success story

At home, there is now excited talk of drafting him to run for president in 2023 so that he can replicate his liquidation of Covid-19 and other malignant diseases on a national scale. A Committee of Friends is currently on a national mobilisation tour in aid of that project.  At every stop, it has been received with great enthusiasm.

Meanwhile the Nigerian Conference of Patriotic Journalists is set to confer him with the special award of “World Conqueror of Covid-19,” at a ceremony in Lokoja later this month.

Abroad, the international community will move the Nobel Committee to award Bello the 2021 Peace Prize, if not the substantive Nobel medallion in Medicine, in recognition of his unparalled contributions to global public health.

Following all the attention, and to show his detractors that he is not the unfeeling potentate they love to hate, decided recently to share, free of charge, the secret of Kogi’s stunning success in keeping Covid-19 at bay.

It is not denialism – stubborn, dogged denialism, denialism enforced with every official and extra-official power – that has been at work in Kogi’s conquest of Covid-19.  If that were the case, why have other states not employed it in wishing the plague away?

At first blush, the Kogi Formula appears beguilingly simple – so simple that it can be expressed in a just one word, the meaning of which every adult Nigerian knows or can figure out in the proper context.  But on close examination, the formula is nothing if not recondite, the product of pure genius.

That formula, it can finally be revealed, consists primarily if not wholly in sensitisation.

At a parley with journalists in Lagos last week, Kogi’s Commissioner for Information, Kingsley Fanwo, who should know, was asked:  “How has the state been fighting COVID-19, especially now that the second wave is causing more havoc across the world?”

His response, as reported in this newspaper, bears quoting at some length.“We have succeeded in sensitising the good people of Kogi state. The best weapon to fight COVID-19 as far as we are concerned, is through sensitisation. When the people know their responsibilities and what they should do to keep themselves safe, it will help in ensuring that the pandemic doesn’t ravage the state.  We are still on the fact that there has not been a single case in Kogi State,” (emphasis added.)

“All those other ones declared by the NCDC are controversial and we have rejected those figures in clear terms.  As far as we are concerned, we will continue sensitization. Before any other state, we built our communication pillars on COVID-19 and ensured that we are telling the people the right thing about the virus. That is what is working for the state. . .”

There you have it

Why waste billions on vaccines that will be available only to a privileged few and produce uncertain outcomes when you can, with a rolling sensitization campaign that will cost next to nothing, keep the infernal plague at bay?


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