We will all recall that from 27th February 2020, when Nigeria recorded its index case in Ogun State of a 44-year-old Italian who came for an official duty in Nigeria, the State has recorded 9 positive cases. And I am elated to note that, between Wednesday and Thursday this week, three additional individuals have been given a clean bill of health and discharged from one of our Isolation Centres to join their families and resume their normal life, thus bringing the total number of discharged individuals to six. This means that presently, we have only 3 active cases and they are being treated by our doctors and other healthcare workers in one of our Isolation and Treatment Centres. As a Government and people, we are thankful to God and the professionalism of our health workers.
2. As part of concerted efforts to curb further transmission of the virus, we also strengthened our tracing process. So far, we have identified 210 persons who had contacts with the positive cases, out of which 110 underwent the required 14 days quarantine period. Only 2 of this number tested positive, the remaining 108 tested negatives on completion of the quarantine period. 100 others are however still observing the quarantine period and are being observed and monitored by our specialist doctors and other healthcare workers.
3. We thank God, Ogun State has been able to manage the pandemic effectively so far and surpassed the global average for tested cases and transmission. The global average is 1 positive case to 3 new infections. In our case, it is 1 positive case to 1 new infection. But, even with the relatively lower number of positive and active cases, we will leave no stone unturned to prevent further infection, spread and death from the dreaded virus. By the grace of God, we will record a zero number of cases soonest.
4. On our part, we will continue to ensure the welfare and wellbeing of all the people of Ogun State and those who have made our dear State their home. This period of COVID-19 will not be an exemption. We are spending judiciously to ensure that coronavirus does not spread into the communities. To this effect, we have just installed the first State fully-funded Molecular Lab in the country. This laboratory at the Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital, Sagamu, is awaiting the accreditation of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) for it to commence full operation. A second Molecular laboratory, donated to the state, will arrive next week.
5. In addition to that, our Administration has also finalized arrangements for the deployment of drive-through testing facilities across the State, particularly around the vulnerable areas such as our border communities with other states to stem community transmission into Ogun State. This will significantly boost our efforts to test individuals with suspected symptoms and ensure that we have one-day return of test results for anyone suspected of having COVID-19 symptoms in the State.
6. It is noteworthy that the first phase of the distribution of our relief palliatives benefitted not less than 60,000 households, approximating 300,000 individuals has been successfully completed. We have learnt some lessons from that experience and these will guide the next phase that will benefit additional 80,000 households of about 400,000 individuals, comprising of the elderly, the poor and vulnerable. This is an on-going process that will ultimately reach 500,000 households or 3 million individuals.
7. It is worrisome that at this critical time of a global pandemic, some individuals and groups would still play politics with lives of our people and public safety by concocting, fabricating and circulating misleading and mischievous stories and videos with sinister motive to undermine the efforts to flatten the curve of the coronavirus and the palliatives meant to cushion the effect of the lockdown on our people. This is uncharitable and inhuman, to say the least. Going forward, such misinformation capable of inciting the public and causing breach of peace will be met with the full weight of the law.
8. In the same vein, I have news for those who may want to take advantage of the current situation to perpetrate any form of crime or criminality. Ogun State has zero tolerance for crimes. And if you test our will, the government and the security agencies will be swift in appending you and severe in bringing you to justice. I call on parents and guardians to ensure the conduct and activities of their children and wards are in consonance with law, public morality and order.
9. We appreciate the team that put the Digiclass, our online education platform to ensure continuity of teaching and learning, even during this period. The feedback has been encouraging. I have therefore directed that the programme be extended further.
10. As your Governor, I owe you the responsibility to provide additional information and clarifications, especially as it concerns the additional 14-day lockdown as announced by President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday in his nationwide broadcast. This must have been a painful but needful decision from Mr. President. My dear fellow citizens of our Ogun State, we appreciate the serious health need to curb the spread of the virus and prevent those who have not contracted the virus from contracting it. But there is also the important need to strike a delicate balance between public safety and welfare of the citizenry. In this regard, Ogun State residents will have a window of relaxation from the renewed 14-day lockdown in the State will be Monday (20th April), Wednesday (22nd April) and Friday (24th April, 2020). The period of relaxation will be between the hours of 7am and 2pm on each of these days. This means that citizens are expected to remain indoors tomorrow Saturday, April 18, 2020; Sunday, April 19, 2020; Tuesday, April 21, 2020 and Thursday, April 23rd, 2020 as period of the lockdown. Let me also re-emphasise that while the window of relaxation is being observed, all interstate and international borders of our dear State will remain closed. As usual, all personnel on essential services will be given access to perform their duties. This window of relaxation of the lockdown will be reviewed from time to time.
11. I enjoin our people to scrupulously spend the window periods to restock on food items and conduct essential businesses during the period of the extended lockdown. We must understand that we cannot afford to be complacent or lower our guards, even as we maintain this delicate balance between people’s welfare and healthcare. We must only go out if there is need to do so. And even then, we must scrupulously use a face mask. For non-health workers, any face mask or shield made from local material or fabric that effectively covers nose and mouth is just appropriate. Also, people should use tissue when coughing or sneezing and dispose of the used tissue immediately. In the absence of clean tissue, cough or sneeze into your bent elbows.
12. My dear people of Ogun State, while we are doing all this, we should also continue to take cognizance of the health safety and recommendations we have issued earlier. It is very important that we do not allow any surge in cases and the attendant risk of community transmission. We, therefore, encourage people to continue to adhere to all the measures put in place for flattening the curve in the country and in Ogun State through social distancing; washing of hands with soap; use of alcohol-based sanitizer where there is no water; and, use of a face mask.
13. The Government of Ogun State wishes to reassure the people of our dear State that there is no need for panic. Our medical and other health professionals are already on top of the situation. Ogun State Government will continue to update the people on any development on the issue.
14. Let me now use this opportunity to express gratitude to all the individuals and organizations who have come forward to identify with us in this trying time. We thank you. Members of the fourth estate of the realm, you have been wonderful. I appreciate your partnership, unflinching support and sacrifices to report accurately and disseminate widely, thus creating the necessary awareness about the pandemic and spreading hope. Our security agencies have continued to be stellar in the discharge of their duties so also are our frontline healthcare personnel whose vigilance and dedication have kept the virus tally in Ogun State relatively low. I also appreciate the Task Force, ably the Deputy Governor and the Medical team, led by the Honourable Commissioner for Health. I am proud of you all. I thank again our donors, your support has been quite helpful. One cannot but be elated that our people appreciate the fact that we must all come together to fight this battle of survival. Let me also call on others to come forward and bring their arsenal so that we will fight this enemy of humanity together on all fronts. Hand-in-hand we will defeat COVID-19 and soldier on in our successful implementation of our “Building our Future Together” Agenda. I have the assurances that God is on our side; we are already victorious.
15. As I end this address, let me reiterate the unwavering commitment of our Administration to ensuring that the people of Ogun State remain our first, second, third and indeed the ONLY priority. Our job is to achieve the happiness and wellbeing of our people at all times, regardless of constraints and circumstances. In doing this, we will always strike the right balance to achieve our collective interest.
16. Whilst we will do all that is humanly possible and scientifically expedient in our fight against COVID-19, it is just proper that we come together to raise our voices to God the more. May God once again, show His mercy to humanity like He has always done and deliver us from this evil.
17. I thank you all for listening and God bless.
“Igbega Ipinle Ogun, ajose gbogbo wa ni!”
Prince Dapo Abiodun, MFR
Governor of Ogun State, Nigeria
Friday, 17th April, 2020