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Address Delivered by His Excellency, Prince Dapo Abiodun (MFR) on Update and Efforts to Combat COVID-19 Pandemic in Ogun State

My dear people of Ogun State.

Let me start with the update on the current COVID-19 situation in our State as reflected in the medical statistics. As at Monday, 15th June 2020, we have recorded a total of 586 positive cases as against a total number of316 on the 4th of June, an increase of 270 or over 85% in just 14 days. Put more succinctly, the number of cases recorded from first index case on 27thFeb to 4th June – a period of 98 days – has almost doubled in just 14 days.

On the positive side, a cumulative total of 315 patients have been successfully treated and discharged, representing 54% of the total positive cases. This number stood at 168 in my last update on Friday, 5th June, indicating a discharge of 147 in the last 14 days.

Combat COVID-19 Pandemic

Within this period, we have painfully recorded an additional 6 more deaths, bringing the total to 15, an increase of over 66% compared to 9 as at the last update. We beseech God Almighty to repose the souls of the departed and grant their families the fortitude to bear the painful loss.

2.​ The above speaks for itself – community transmission is on the increase. And regrettably, in spite of the spirited efforts of the government to create awareness about the deadly nature of the pandemic and the guidelines in place to flatten the curve of the spread, the compliance level of our people is still very much below expectation.

Many are yet to appreciate that there is a new normal that demands a new way of life that is not optional and is also an individual responsibility in the final analysis. I wish to emphasise that the figures of the dead from COVID-19 related complications or the sick may appear to many as just mere statistics.

But to those who are directly impacted, these are not just numbers, but caring spouses, loving fathers or mothers, sisters, brothers and cherished relatives. The intention here is not to scare us, but to drive home the point that COVID-19 is real, and we have a collective and individual responsibility to work together to tame it – through compliance with the guidelines.

3.​ The challenge posed by the deadly COVID-19 pandemic is multi-faceted. Apart from the generally known facts that there are no vaccine or cure yet, the trajectory of the spread of the virus is also a moving target, despite the best efforts at arresting the spread of this highly infectious and deadly enemy.

Combat COVID-19 Pandemic

4.​ It is with this consideration in mind that our approach in Ogun State has been cautious, deliberate, methodical, and guided by data analysis, feedback from the field, and expert opinions of medical scientists. Underpinning our approach also is a continuous review of the situation and curtailment efforts, engagement with stakeholders and regular update of the public.

Since COVID-19 is a global challenge, we also stay tuned to COVID-19 related developments both in other States within our shores and also around the world. One key lesson is that those who relaxed the restrictions too early are paying dearly and hurriedly re-imposing even tougher measures than those lifted prematurely. Unfortunately, the consequences for the hasty decision are human lives that could have been saved or ailments that could have been avoided.

5.​ In my last briefing, we were considering a tentative date of Friday, 19th June 2020 to further ease the restrictions and allow the gradual opening of places of worship on Fridays and Sundays. Towards this end, we have had robust engagements with the religious leaders – Christian Association of Nigeria and the League of Imams and Alfas.

I must thank them for their forthrightness, cooperation and even appreciation that the curve of the spread of the pandemic is worsening and that places of worship represent most potent fertile grounds for the spread of the deadly virus.

6.​ After a careful review of the data, feedback from the field, expert opinions, and lessons from far and near, two major conclusions are very clear and obvious to all: first, the COVID-19 situation in Ogun State and indeed in the country as a whole has not improved since the last update;

Secondly, there are dire consequences in loss of human lives for premature relaxation of the guidelines, necessitating a rollback of the relaxation in a number of states and countries. Unfortunately, guidelines may be rolled back, the lost human lives cannot be rolled back.

7.​ Consequently, we are confronted with two choices – yield to the demand of those who want the restrictions to be further relaxed or even completely removed, even if this is at variance with the dictates of incontrovertible data analysis and scientific opinion; or tow the path that preserves public health and safety, even if not so popular.

As a responsible Administration, we choose life and the wellbeing of our citizens and are therefore constrained to take the painful but necessary decision to maintain the current regime of eased lockdown in the meantime.

We are consequently suspending our initially slated reopening of places of worship. Let me thank some of our religious leaders who by themselves advised us that this is the best decision that we should take at this time in the best interest of all of us.

This is not an easy decision, but we are confident that the wisdom and scientific basis for this decision will become clearer to those who may have initial misgivings about it. Since the advent of this pandemic in our State, our cautious, methodical, data-driven and scientifically supported approach have ensured not only comparably superior outcomes, we have also not had reasons to reverse our decisions because our decisions are usually well thought out.

8.​ For clarity, the existing guidelines to combat COVID-19 in the State that will continue in the meantime are:

  • • All 5 working days in the week (Monday to Friday) are still opened for businesses and other economic transactions with only Saturday and Sunday as lockdown days;
  • • Observation of dusk-to-dawn curfew as directed by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) i.e. between 10.00 pm and 4.00 am daily;
  • • Restrictions on Interstate travel are still in force;
  • • Wearing of face masks in the public is still mandatory;
  • • Only one passenger is still allowed for motorcycles and two passengers only for tricycles. We observed that Okada motorcycles are breaking this law and we will not hesitate to ban all Okada motorcycles from operating in our State if our resolve is further put to test.
  • • Taxi cabs and buses still have 60% limitation on their carrying capacity and the measure to arrest and impound any driver that contravenes this in our State is still in force;
  • • The COVID-19 Task Force in markets must continue to ensure physical distancing, availability of handwashing facilities, and use of gloves and facemasks for traders;
  • • Decontamination will continue in our markets and other public places;
  • • Limitation of all gatherings to a maximum number of 20, is still in effect;
  • • Gyms, event centres, cinemas, arcades, bars, casinos, nightclubs, swimming pools, barber-shops, spas, beauty Salons, and all public parks, including those in private residential estates, are still not allowed to operate;
  • • Restaurants are permitted to provide only take-away services and should also ensure that there are no more than 10-15 customers at a time with physical distancing measures in place. Guidelines for eat-in services are still being fine-tuned;
  • • All industries in Ogun State must continue to comply with the “Infection Prevention and Control Guidelines for Workplaces in Ogun State to Combat COVID-19” as issued by the Ministry of Health in conjunction with the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investments. Therefore, testing of staff for COVID-19 in all industries in the State must be sustained;
  • • The Task Force set up to conduct random spot checks on the premises of the industries, restaurants and other business enterprises to confirm compliance is still in operation.

9.​ As usual, we will continue to monitor the situation and developments and will not hesitate to review and adjust the guidelines accordingly, as may be required. Our objective is to preserve the welfare and wellbeing of our people at all times, after all that is the primary reason for the existence of government in the first place. In doing this, it will require tough decisions.

I have no doubt that we can continue to count on the understanding and support of our people in this joint war against an invisible enemy which turn wives to widows and children to orphans. In this task, we are confident that we will prevail – through the benevolence of God Almighty and the resilience of the human spirit.

10. ​I cannot end this address without especially thanking all our frontline workers – doctors, nurses, pharmacists, medical lab scientists, supporting personnel and indeed all health workers. I commend the patriotism and commitment of security personnel, journalists and other essential workers for their cooperation in the efforts to flatten the curve of COVID-19. Our efforts will not be in vain, together, we will defeat COVID-19.

11.​ 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.
Thursday, 18th June 2020

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