How Governors Are Waging War Against COVID-19

By Kenneth Jude


As the dreaded coronavirus pandemic bites, Nigerian governors are not taking anything to chance as a good number of them have taken measures to prevent the spread of the virus in their states.


From closure of borders, markets, stay-at-home orders and rolling out palliative measures to cushion the effect of the turbulent times on the people, governors, fully aware of the devastating effects the virus can have if it finds its way to their states, are on their feet and combat-ready to keep it at bay.


As of the time of writing this piece, Lagos State remained the state with the highest number of COVID-19 victims in Nigeria with 82 cases. According to Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the Federal Capital Territory has 28 cases Osun has 14, while Ogun, and Oyo States have 5 and 8 cases respectively. Kaduna has 3 cases while Enugu, Bauchi and Edo States have 2 cases each. There is one case each in Ekiti, Rivers and Benue States respectively.


The coronavirus pandemic which crept out of Wuhan in China has spread globally, shutting down world economy, social engagements and generally altered human activities. In counties like Italy, the United Kingdom, Russia and the now worst hit, the United Stares of America, businesses have shut, churches have been deserted, the streets are desolate as citizens are holed up in their homes as the deadly virus continues to wreak havoc on humanity.


Back here in Nigeria, many states are under lock and key, with business open to only those trading on essential commodities like foodstuffs, medical services and other essential items that keep the body and soul going. It’s one hell of a period that has crippled the high, the mighty and those in the lower rungs of life. Superpowers are not insulated from this pestilence. Football and other sporting activities have all been suspended till God knows when. The world is in ruins. The question on the lips of all is when this cosmic calamity that has befallen humanity will recede.


The fear COVID-19 has generated is palpable and can be touched. There are suggestions that the world is on the cusp of apocalypse, others insist the plague is God’s way of punishing humanity for its many wrongs, while some maintain it is human-made. But whatever assumptions and presumptions anybody might make at this time, one certain thing is that coronavirus has devastated the world, brought world leaders, developed and developing counties to their knees. How to stop its spread and see it vanish into nowhere is the utmost wish of all.


It’s no wonder that governors are taking severe measures aimed at warding off the virus. No governor in his sane mind would want to have any case in his state.


If it has left counties that are home to the best medical facilities and top health professional reeling in hopelessness, nobody, no matter his level of senility, would wish to have his domain invaded by coronavirus.


In Akwa Ibom State, the earlier rift between the state government and medical professionals has long been settled with both parties agreeing to join hands in fighting the pandemic, which, as of the time of penning this piece, had not entered the state.


Governor Udom Emmanuel had on March 30, 2020 signed the Quarantine and Restriction of Movement Regulations, 2020 where preventive measures were rolled out in the fight against COVID-19. Apart from closing all borders leading in and out of the state, the governor placed a ban on all public weddings, burials and other social gatherings likely to host a large number of people.


RELATED: Our Safeguards Against Covid-19 in A’Ibom


Additionally, All places of religious worship, churches, and mosques are to strictly observe the social distancing prescription of a minimum of one metre spacing and not more than twenty persons per gathering, while hand washing facility with running water, soap and sanitizer shall be made available at such gatherings.


There were however exemption for government and recognised security personnel, fire service personnel, medical health workers and other personnel on essential duties and food supplies areas.
The number of passengers to be carried per time by both commercial transporters and private car owners have also been reduced, with the enforcement team to carry out the directives headed by the State Commissioner of Police, comprising all the service commanders and relevant government officials.


Last Tuesday, Governor Emmanuel in company of secretary to the State Government and other top government functionaries paid a visit to the state Quaternary Medical Centre, Ibom Multi Specialty Hospital, Uyo, to ascertain the functionality of machines and preparedness of the facility to contain medical emergencies.


The governor and his team toured the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Emergency Theatre as well as inspected ventilators and other equipment in the hospital to ascertain the facility’s readiness to attend to possible COVID-19 patients in the state.


As the state equips itself against COVID-19, corporate bodies have lent their support to the government to assist in the fight against the virus. Just recently, Stanbic IBTC Bank, a subsidiary of Stanbic IBTC Holding PLC, partnered Inoyo Toro Foundation, a non-governmental organization focused on human capital development committed to extending support in laboratory equipment to the state for the establishment of a testing centre. This will ensure early testing of suspected cases and accurate diagnosis of COVID-19. There was also a cash donation by United Back for Africa (UBA). As days go by, it appears others may lend one form of support or the other as the state, which has not recorded any COVID-19 case battles to keep the microscopic virus far away from entry.


In neighbouring Rivers State, Governor Nyesom Wike is heading the enforcement team of dusk-to-dawn order imposed by the state government.


Governor Wike had in his broadcast on Monday, said “with effect from Tuesday, March 31, 2020, there will be a dusk-to-dawn curfew from Obiri – Ikwerre Junction ( Ozuoba, Rumualogu) to Choba and from Education Bus Stop to Agip Junction , Ikwerre Road.”


This was in addition to the earlier restriction on air, sea and land routes into the state on March 26, 2020. The governor had, in a state broadcast, said: “It is with gratitude to God that I announce to you that our state would have been infected with coronavirus yesterday, but for the vigilance of security agents who, acting on a tip-off prevented an infected person from boarding a flight from Abuja to Port Harcourt.


“The infected person beat all security measures that were put in place at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, and was to sneak into Port Harcourt before security agents stopped her.


“Based on this alarming information, the State Security Council met and reviewed measures already put in place and decided that there was urgent need to adopt stringent measures to protect those living and doing business in the state from the virus.


“The council has therefore taken the following painful decisions:


With effect from 6pm on Thursday, March 26, 2020, the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, will not be open to air traffic. While we may not have the right to stop flights from entering Port Harcourt, we cannot allow anybody coming from the airport to enter our state. We are confident that the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and other federal agencies will cooperate with us. All land and sea borders will be closed. Vehicular movements in an out of the state have been banned. In essence, no vehicle will leave Rivers State for any other state and no vehicle will be allowed to enter the state.”


Governor Wike said that the new measures will be in place till further notice.


In Cross River, Governor Ben Ayade has also taken steps to curb the spread of the virus in the state. The governor has since approved the release of N500 million for the state’s newly inaugurated COVID-19 Response Team.


Ayade gave the approval while inaugurating the committee on Tuesday, saying that it was part of a proactive measure against the spread of the ravaging coronavirus pandemic, codenamed COVID-19.


The governor also announced the release of 20 vehicles to support its operations. The mandate of the response team, according to the governor, is to safeguard the state against the global scourge.
Ayade used the opportunity to appeal to the Federal Government to give special treatment to the state as a result of its strategic border location.


“Cross River is an international border state, and with the incident in Cameroon, I call on President Muhammadu Buhari, I call on the Minister of Health to treat Cross River in a very peculiar way. We need the obvious and express attention of the Federal Government.”


He charged the team headed by the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Betta Edu, to work assiduously to ensure that all preventive measures against the spread were adhered to.


“You are all aware that there is no unanimity about the history of this global pandemic but Cross River, as a state governed by two professors, we must find ways and provide a leading direction at the sub-national level.


It is, therefore, our desire to ensure that Cross River continues to maintain zero incidence as far as this pandemic is concerned.


“To achieve this, we are hereby setting up this task force whose core mandate is to guarantee the full implementation of the lockdown of our borders to ensure that medicines, food supplies and welfare packages are made available to our people.


“We are sensitive to the challenges of locking down a state where people have barely earned their last salary, therefore, the social sensitivity of our lockdown must reflect in the subsequent actions we take. Against this background, I’m setting up this taskforce with subcommittees. As I said before, this task force is to realise a COVID-19- free Cross River.”


Governor Ayade who lamented the effect of partial lockdown on the people of the state, assured of palliative measures to cushion the effects. “Let me inform you also that we have recalled workers at the garment factory for the mass production of face and nose masks to protect our citizens.


“We are going to release the sum of N500m in the first instance. I will like to announce also that we have received the sum of N28M from UBA, we are also going to get support from Zenith Bank and First Bank. We hope that other corporate organisations will at this time come to our rescue. You are also to ensure that citizens have access to food, access to livelihood because after the coronavirus comes humanity. And so we must be careful so that we don’t create social vices- increase in criminality because of lack of food. That is why the Food Bank Director- General must recognize that food supplies to the various local governments are essential.”
While noting that a total lockdown of the state was unwarranted, he however said that nobody will be allowed to walk on the streets of Cross River from next week without face and nose masks, adding that the Garment factory is mass producing the masks.”


Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, is not taking chances in the global war against COVID-19, more so having recorded two cases.


The governor announced in a broadcast on Tuesday that the state has 280-bed isolation capacity, 28 ventilators, 10 Intensive Care Units (ICUs), and is setting up 100 screening centres across the state to contain the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).


Governor Obaseki said the state is deploying its resources to confront the pandemic, noting that even though the state prays for the best, it is preparing for the worst-case scenario.


According to him, “The pandemic is real, and like the rest of the world, we are fighting to get ahead of the outbreak and protect our people. So far, we have two confirmed cases in Edo State.”


He said Edo State’s plan to combat the COVID-19 virus is centred around creating awareness, training the state’s health care workforce, screening, testing and providing prompt treatment.


“We now have isolation centres with a total of 280 beds located at the Stella Obasanjo Hospital Benin, University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Irrua Specialist Hospital and the Auchi General Hospital.
“In addition, we have secured 25 additional ventilators increasing the total number of ventilators to 28. 10 Intensive Care Units now exist in the state to take care of critical cases. We are providing training for over 6,000 health care professionals from public and private institutions so that they can have appropriate information and tools to support and care for our people.


“We stand a good chance to win the fight against COVID-19, if we all obey the social distancing measures and the government’s stay-at-home order as prescribed. This is what will help us reduce further spread of the virus,” he said.


The governor maintained that in order to understand the magnitude of the COVID-19 problem in the state, there’s need to screen and test people, saying that “we are establishing over 100 screening points across all LGAs made up of teaching hospitals, general hospitals, primary health centres and private hospitals.


“Anyone with known symptoms or suspects they may have been exposed can go and talk to a trained health care worker who will provide care according to the defined protocol. This is offered free of charge to our people.”


On his part, the Bayelsa State governor, Douye Diri, on Tuesday relaxed the interstate border closure put in place by the government to check the spread of coronavirus to allow food, drugs and vehicles conveying personnel on essential duty into the state.


The governor granted unfettered passage to their destinations for vehicles conveying foodstuffs, medical supplies and personnel on essential services.
He announced this during an enlarged meeting with members of the state’s COVID-19 task force, including service commanders, labour leaders and representatives of international health organisations in Government House, Yenagoa.


He emphasised the need for people to have access to food items, drugs and other essential commodities as they comply with the restriction order on inter-state movement.


Diri, who doubles as the state’s chairman of the COVID-19 Task force, said the meeting was convened to appraise the challenges faced by the taskforce and to proffer solutions.


He said the government was exploring the possibility of providing a COVID-19 testing centre in the state. To this end, he constituted a committee headed by his deputy to assess the capacity of the Bio Resources Centre at Odi in Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area.


The governor also directed the Bayelsa State Electricity Company to provide a dedicated electricity line to the NDUTH to enhance service delivery. He equally directed all council chairmen to henceforth operate from the headquarters of their respective local government areas and charged them to step up surveillance efforts at all marine and land borders.


As governors wage war against the scourge of coronavirus pandemic, the world is united in prayer that this pestilence, just the same way it came, disappears ad infinitum into oblivion.

Related Articles

Back to top button