The Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu has been described as the hero of Nigeria’s stand against the Coronavirus pandemic because of the reforms he has brought into the country’s response and for standing against a cabal determined to use the pandemic to enrich themselves.
Some sources inside the NCDC told INFACTNG that Dr. Chikwe has been battling forces in the Presidency who are determined to take control of Nigeria’s response and corner resources for themselves.
“If not for Dr. Chikwe, the coronavirus pandemic would have been worse in Nigeria, he has brought many innovations into the response and despite what you see everyday during the media chat, he is trying to see how to improve on the response,” a source said.
But the Director General’s efforts have been greatly undermined by people close to the corridors of power according to another source who spoke strictly on conditions of anonymity.
“It is true that initially there was some confusion about the direction of the response in Nigeria because as you may know this is a novel virus and we have not dealt with this type before, but we have learnt quickly and we are using the lessons to impact future decisions.
“One of the ways Dr. Chikwe has been very impactful is in the area of financial prudence. He doesn’t just throw money at every problem because the money is there, he is making the best use of it. For instance, if there is a purchase to be made, people who are not medical doctors would be jostling for the contracts, they want us to import everything we can manufacturer locally here.
“Even up to face masks, they want to import everything from China and Dr. Chikwe has been kicking against that but these people are powerful and they usually have their way. But what the DG has done is to ensure that as much as possible he was able to ensure accountability,” the source said.
INFACTNG also learnt that the DG has replaced all the customer care officers who were in charge of NCDC hotlines with a more professional crew. This followed series of complaints about the unprofessional attitudes of the customer care officers by Nigerians.
It was learnt that the DG also reverted to a monthly payment for the officers in place of the daily payment of N5,000 which was open to abuse and corruption.
“I can tell you that the DG scrutinises every contract and purchase that has to do with COVID, at least the ones he can control. But for the national purchase, there is nothing he can do about it. We have different kinds of request from various people. Can you believe that they are asking the World Bank to release the remaining funding for Regional Diseases Surveillance System Enhancement ( REDDISSE) Project so that it can be used for COVID?”
INFACTNG also learnt that the protocol for COVID prevention in Nigeria will soon change as the NCDC is currently looking inwards for a home grown solution the pandemic. “When this happens, there will be little opportunities left for those who want to enrich themselves,” the source added.