ADDRESS DELIVERED BY THE GOVERNOR OF OGUN STATE, HIS EXCELLENCY, PRINCE DAPO ABIODUN, MFR ON THE UPDATE OF COVID-19 SITUATION IN THE STATE, HELD ON FRIDAY, 1ST MAY, 2020
My dear people of Ogun State, you will recall that that Mr. President, President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, in his first address to the nation on 29th March, 2020 on the COVID-19 pandemic declared a lockdown on Lagos State, Ogun State and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) for 14 days in the first instance. At that time, Ogun State appealed for a week extension for the people of our State to prepare for the lockdown. You will also recall that on Monday, 27th April, Mr. President announced a further extension of the lockdown in the affected States and FCT for another week which should end by Sunday, 3rd May. However, for us in Ogun State, the extension will now end on Sunday, 9th May, that is, taking into consideration the initial one week of grace granted us by Mr. President. At this point, let me specially appreciate our dear President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR for his fatherly role. In his address to the nation on the evening of Monday, 27th April, our dear President has once again demonstrated sterling democratic credentials as some of the resolutions of that address were based on the recommendations of State Governors who are the field commanders in the war against COVID-19. Mr. President continues to demonstrate his humane feelings for the wellbeing and welfare of the entire people of Nigeria even in the midst of this pandemic and the need to take strict measures in the fight against COVID-192
2. In all these, it is my duty as your Governor to update you on new developments on the COVID-19 pandemic in our dear State and make further clarifications arising from Mr. President’s address on Monday, 27th April, 2020. In Ogun State, we will continue to thank God that our efforts towards fighting the COVID-19 pandemic to a stand-still are achieving desired results. However, we know also that complacency comes with fatal repercussions. In the last few weeks, the number of confirmed cases in our dear Ogun State has continued to rise to more than double. As at last night, 30th April, 2020, there are 56 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ogun State as against 35 confirmed cases a week ago. Out of these 8 have been discharged to re-join their families and restart normal life; whilst we have 47 active cases who are currently receiving efficient treatment from our medical officers. We hope and pray that they will also be discharged in due course.
3. Again, I reassure our people that there is no reason for panic. The fact that we are having increased number of confirmed cases is a confirmation that we are doing the right things. We are winning in the different fronts in the war against the pandemic. The increase in the numbers of cases is because of our increased testing capacity and faster turnaround. On Monday, 27th April, we unveiled Nigeria’s first COVID-19 mobile laboratory located at the intended 250-bed hospital in Abeokuta. The mobile laboratory has the capacity to run 450 tests in a day. We also have a state of the art walk-in/test centre in Ota. The test kiosk is fitted with a protective glass boxes to stave off risk of infection of our health personnel by persons whose samples are being taken.
4. We have now discovered that most of the new cases arise from the influx of immigrants, that is returnees and visitors into our dear State. These fall into two categories; those Nigerians coming into the country through our land borders and those coming into our dear State from others States of the country. On Tuesday 28th April, we discovered that 24 people entered Ilushin in Ogun Waterside LGA, and, just 24 hours after, another 12 people were rounded up in Odogbolu LGA. This calls for vigilance from all of us. Their appearance in our dear State has serious implications for public health and safety because the Federal Government has prohibited all forms of interstate travel except for essential service. We hereby call on our law enforcement agents, traditional rulers and community leaders to be vigilant and report any visitors to the police.
5. My fellow people of Ogun State, it is obvious that no nation can survive a total lockdown of economic activities for an elongated time. There is no indication of when a vaccine will be developed for COVID- 19, therefore all we can do is to strike a balance between public health safety and economic welfare of the citizenry. No doubt, this is a fragile situation. Therefore, it is very important that all of us adhere strictly to recommendations of professionals during this delicate period, especially, and at all times, as we go about our daily economic activities.
6. As part of our efforts to mitigate the effects of the pandemic, we are extending our palliatives to at least 20,000 youths in the State at about 1,000 per LG. In addition, we will engage at least 250 youths per LG in the Agric Sector. We will provide them with land, inputs, extension services, regular stipends and offtake their harvest. As we are entering the planting season this will empower them and contribute in no small measure to the food security and food storage plan of the State.
7. In line with Mr. President’s address to the entire nation, the Lockdown is still in place. However, the Lockdown will begin to be relaxed gradually and in phases from Monday, 4th May, in consideration of the peculiarity of the different States.
8. To this end, our relaxation window remains Monday, 4th May; Wednesday, 6th May; and Friday, 8th May. The new time frame will, however, now be from 7am to 5pm on those days. This will give our people ample time to conduct necessary economic activities and to get to their various homes before the commencement of the daily curfew as directed by Mr. President. For the avoidance of doubt, the curfew is from 8pm to 6am everyday and will be strictly enforced.
9. Let me restate that as I announced last week, the use of face mask is now compulsory in public. We have procured over 1 million face masks that we are distributing across the State to groups such as Market Women, Artisans, Transport Unions, Law Enforcement Agencies, Civil Servants and religious groups among others. Nevertheless everybody has a personal responsibility to procure and wear a face mask.
10. The COVID-19 task force at a meeting with market leaders set up COVID-19 enforcement committees in our various markets. These enforcement committees have been empowered to enforce physical distancing, the use of face masks and the deployment of hand washing facilities and hand sanitizers at strategic locations within our various markets. Let me emphasize that those handling food items must also wear hand gloves and maintain high level of personal and hand hygiene in addition to wearing face masks.
11. At another meeting with transport operators, we inaugurated a joint task force of transporters and security agencies to ensure that transporters and passengers wear face masks and enforce the strict compliance of NO interstate travel, except vehicles on essential services. Even for such vehicles, there is a ceiling of a maximum of five persons which includes the driver. All these persons must provide proof of their connection with the vehicle and the particular service the vehicle provides. Let me state, with all sense of seriousness that we will not condone any act that could sabotage the ban on interstate travel by any of these vehicles or persons on essential services. For avoidance of doubt, there will be no interstate travels whatsoever for persons living in Ogun State and working in other states, including Lagos.
12. For intrastate transport, operators are permitted to carry a maximum of half (50%) of the passenger capacity. Specifically, a taxi cab can carry only three passengers, with one in front and a maximum of 2 in the rear seat. 14 seater buses must carry no more than 7 passengers spread across the rows. Tricycle can carry a maximum of 2 passengers, whilst okada riders can carry only one passenger at a time. In all cases, drivers / riders must not only wear face masks, they must ensure that their passengers also wear. Failure to comply with these guidelines will lead to the confiscation of the vehicles or okada.
13. As we go on to relax the lockdown gradually and in phases, let me state that we cannot afford a blanket lift on all aspects of our lives because of the inherent dangers. Therefore:
All educational institutions remain closed till further notice. However, students in public schools will continue their learning via Digiclass. 30% of public servants are to resume for work on the days of windows of relaxation of lockdown. Head of Service will issue a circular providing details. As usual, all essential service personnel will continue to work notwithstanding the lockdown.
All public religious gatherings remained banned. All pubs, clubs, stadia, public pools, spars, gyms, salons, etc., and indeed, any assembly of more that fifteen persons remain banned till further notice. However, restaurants may open on the approved days for take-out meals only.
We however do not object to naming rites of newborns and burial rites of our deceased loved ones. But such gatherings must not be more than the prescribed 15 which includes even the officiating priests and all attendees must observe social distancing.
14. At this point, let me appreciate all the good people of our dear Ogun State for their cooperation, understanding, support, sacrifices and solidarity. No doubt these are tough times. However, if we can continue to fight covid-19 with our joint resolve, we will see an end to this pandemic in no distant time.
15. We have to continue to ensure that we protect public health and safety by all means possible. Consequently, we have established mobile courts where offenders will be prosecuted promptly. Let me state, that we will not shy away from visiting the full weight of the law on anyone found culpable. The punishments will be fines, community service or both.
16. In all this, we must also salute the courage and professionalism of our workers, especially our healthcare workers and other frontline officers, who have continued to put their lives on the line to protect the rest of us. We have procured personal protection equipment for all our healthcare workers serving in the COVID-19 team and will continue to support them as we pray for more success in the battlefield. In appreciation of their selflessness, our Administration has consistently ensured the prompt payment of their hazard allowances and recently reviewed these allowances upwards. This is in addition to providing life insurance for each of our medical doctors. Also on behalf of the good people of Ogun State, I appreciate all the various security agencies, journalists and volunteers who are working tirelessly with us.
17. Once again, I express the gratitude of the Government and people of Ogun State to all public-spirited individuals and organisations who continue to donate towards the fight against this enemy of humanity. You are motivators for the successful implementation of our “Building our Future Together” Agenda. You are our heroes and heroines of this century.
18. As I end this address, let me enjoin us to raise our voices, as individuals and collectively to God, to pray for ourselves, our nation and humanity, in general for the cessation of COVID-19.
19. I thank you all for listening and God bless.
“Igbega Ipinle Ogun, ajose gbogbo wa ni o!”
Prince Dapo Abiodun, MFR
Governor of Ogun State, Nigeria.
Friday, 1st May, 2020