My dear people of Ogun State, let me specially congratulate our Muslim brothers and sisters on the sighting of the moon of the holy month of Ramadan signaling the commencement of the sacredRamadan fast. I pray that Allah in His infinite mercies will grant us the grace to witness many more Ramadan fasts, and service to Allah as our creator. I also pray that Allah will accept our fast as an act of worship to Him and grant us the full benefits and rewards in this life and hereafter.
2. Fellow compatriots, I have always believed that there is a divine hand of grace in every situation of humanity. Or, how would we have explained the coincidence of the commencement of Ramadan with this point when humanity is stretched to the limit. Simply, and like the days of yore, God is again giving humanity another window to call on Him. And, I am assured that He, who harkened to the prayersof our forefathers when they raised their voices to Him, will also answer our prayers. Although, this year’s Ramadan becomes peculiar and different from many in the past because we will not be able to perform some of the traditional congregational prayers such as the “taraweeh” popularly called “Ashamu”; the Ramadan “Tafsir”; and, “Laelatul-Quadri” (the holy night). This is because of the expediency of observing the rule of social distancing as necessitated by the prevailing situation across the globe. But, Allah has given us the grace that whether in our individual or congregational capacities, He will answer our prayers. As we observe these prayers in our respective homes, I enjoin us to take advantage of this window as provided by the Holy month of Ramadan to raise our voices to God with the belief that He will answer our prayers and look down on humanity with His mercies.
3.As a government and people, we commiserate with our dear President, Muhammadu Buhari GCFR; the family of late Mallam Abbah Kyari who was the Chief of Staff to our dear President. We also commiserate with the families of all those who have lost their loved ones to the cold hands of death due to the Covid-19 pandemic.The lesson thereof is that these deaths have removed all doubts about the reality of the Covid-19 pandemic in our Nation. It is therefore important that all of us join hands to fight this pandemic to a standstill.
4.The reality facing us is that apart from identifying the cases, we must also ensure that we prevent community spread, which is a more dangerous trend. As part of efforts to fight this, the Nigerian Governors Forum held a virtual meeting earlier in the week. One of the major highlights in the joint resolve to fight Covid-19 and its consequent community transmission is a recommendation to place a ban on inter-State travel or movements. This and other recommendations are already being placed under consideration to ensure the effectiveness and efficiency in such a way they will achieve what they are meant to achieve with the barest minimum hardship on our people.
5.For us in Ogun State, we thank God that our efforts towards fighting the Covid-19 pandemic to a stand-still is achieving desired results. But we cannot also drop our guards. In the last one week, the number of confirmed cases in our dear Ogun State has risen to more than double. As at Thursday, 23rd April, 2020, there are 29confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ogun State as against 12 confirmed cases of Covid-19 as at Friday, 17th April, 2020. Out of these 29, 6 of them have been discharged to re-join their family and restart normal life; 1 dead; and, 22 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. Let me also reassure our people that there is no reason for panic. The fact that we get more number of confirmed cases shows we are doing right what we are to do. The increase in numbers of cases is because of our increase pace of testing. The advantage of this, is that it is better for us to detect and treat people who are already infected rather than leaving them undetected which will be more detrimental because it will increase community transmission. Let me also state that although, majority of these new cases are detected on immigrants coming into our country through our land borders. The lesson thereof is that the peculiarity of our dear State as the next-door neighbour to Lagos State which is the epicentre of the fight against Covid-19; and as a gateway to the other parts of the country, especially as a window to the West African sub-region puts us at a vulnerable position.
6.However, as your Government, just as we appreciate that the location of our dear State gives us certain advantages, it also comes with a price which we have to pay at situation like this. And, this period of Covid-19 is one of such times. This means that we must ensure strict and continued vigilance at all times. In this regard, let me reassure all the people of Ogun State and all those who have made our dear State their home that our Administration will continue to ensure their welfare and wellbeing at all times. We have continued to spend judiciously so that Covid-19 does not spread unchecked into our different communities. To this effect, we have put in place somespecific measures. Amongst such are:
i. the purchase and installation of fully State-funded Molecular laboratory at the Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital (OOUTH), Sagamu, which already received the applause of both the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Teams respectively on their visit to the laboratory. Let me use this opportunity to appreciate the country representatives of W.H.O. Dr. Fiona Braka and her Team; and, the Director-General of NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu and his Team, respectively for their assessment and commendations. Let me say that the Government and people of Ogun State will continue to support and collaborate with these 2 organizations that have been at the forefront of the fight against Covid-19 in Nigeria, in particular, and ensuring global health.
ii. Construction of World-class Isolation and treatment Centres equipped with special Intensive Care Units (ICUs) at OOUTH Sagamu and Ikenne-Remo. we have now isolated and completed the ICU floor of the intended 250 Bed Hospital in Abeokuta which has 18 available Beds of which 8 are high dependency and 10 ICU. In addition we are finalising the renovation of the 75 Bed Infectious Disease Hospital at Iberekodo Abeokuta.
iii. Installation of Testing Booths which are already being deployed across our dear State, particularly around the vulnerable areas such as our communities at the border with Lagos State, and our International border communities. I want to report that this has significantly boosted our effort to test individuals. A major feature of this testing booth, the first in Sub-Sahara Africa, is that it protects the health officials carrying out the tests from being infected.
7.My dear people of Ogun State, we have all seen the astronomical rise in the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in our country in the last one week. This therefore means that we must all continue to take cognizance of the health safety and recommendations we have issued earlier. It is important that we do not allow continued surge in cases and the attendance risk of continued communitytransmission. We will once again encourage our people to adhere to all health safety measures put in place to flatten the curve in the country, in general, and in Ogun State in particular through social distancing; washing of hands with soaps and use of alcohol base sanitizer where there is no water. We have always encouraged the use of face mask but let me add that with the reality facing us, the use of face mask in public by all individuals in Ogun State is now compulsory as from Friday, 1st May, 2020. We will also begin to distribute face masks to those who cannot afford to buy, in addition to other materials to our vulnerable groups across the State.
8.At this point, let me say that we appreciate the continued patience, cooperation and perseverance of our people in the past days of the lockdown. As we enter another week of the lockdown, we appreciate the fact that we must continue to strike a delicate balance between the health safety and economic well-being of our people. We will continue to have a window of break on Monday, 27th April, 2020 from 7.00am to 2.00pm and other days as may be reviewed and communicated in due course.
9.Let me also state that we have commenced the second phase of distribution of palliatives/stimulus for the Covi-19 lockdown. The second phase is expected to cover over 80,000 households, that is over 400,000 individuals. If we add this to the first phase which cover over 100,000 households, it means that at the end of this second phase, we will have covered almost 200,000 households, and almost 1 Million individuals. Let me also reassure our peoplethat we have learnt some lessons from the first phase of the distribution. This second phase therefore will reflect the lessons learnt in better organization, improved process of distribution and delivery to the vulnerable groups, aged and indigent. Let me state clearly that we will not tolerate any diversion or subversion by any individual or group. Such act will be viewed as crime against the State and visited with the full wrath of the law.
10.Let me also use this opportunity to express gratitude to our healthcare workers and other frontline officers who have continued to put their lives on the line to protect the rest of us. We appreciate you and we pray that God will continue to protect you in the line of duty to humanity. As part of our appreciation, we are already working on the review of allowances to our frontline healthcare officers. We believe this will further encourage and motivate them in their dedication and commitment to duty at this crucial time. I also on behalf of the good people of Ogun State appreciate all the various security agencies for their continued devotion, resilience and patriotism. Be assured, we are in this together.
11.Before I end this address, let me once again express our heartfelt gratitude to all individuals and organizations who have continued to partner with us in the fight of the survival of humanity and particularly our COVID-19 Task force, Deputy Governor, Secretary to the State Government, Chief of Staff, Hon. Commissioner for Health, Hon. Commissioner for Special Duties, Hon Commissioner for Environment and all others. Our partnership and collaboration remainthe main thrust and motivating factor for the successful implementation of our “Building our Future Together” Agenda. Together, we will defeat Covid-19 and humanity will move on stronger.
12.Once again, I congratulate our Muslim brothers and sisters on the commencement of the Ramadan fast. We pray that God will accept our worship; forgive our sins; and look down on humanity with His mercies and grace. Even as we pray, let us stay home and stay safe.
13.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, 24th April, 2020