By Simeon Nwakaudu
This is not a time for rhetoric. It is not a time for vain politics. It is not a time for fault-finding, neither is it a time to seek unnecessary political advantage or presence.
Humanity is in danger. Therefore, the most important direction is to work towards public safety. We are all in this together. Nobody is exempted.
All the continents have been negatively impacted. The pandemic has reached Africa and it is here with us in Nigeria. That is the reason for the far reaching measures adopted by the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike to protect the lives of Rivers people and by extension, that of other Nigerians.
By taking several proactive measures to protect Rivers people, Governor Wike has drawn praises and criticisms from different quarters. Many analysts see his actions from different angles, depending on their standpoints.
Painful as the measures are, Governor Wike took them as the Chief Security Officer of Rivers State to secure the lives of Rivers people. The fundamental objective is the security of lives.
The actions so far have affected the finances of the people and that of the State Government. But it is only a person who is alive that can spend money.
While it is not necessary to apportion blame at this juncture, it must be said that when the national index case was imported into the country, things would have been different if those responsible took up their responsibilities. We wouldn't have gotten to this stage of National Fear and emergency actions.
The closure of borders and the restriction of inter-state movement was an initiative of Governor Wike aimed at the containment of coronavirus. This action has been replicated by several states with the Federal Government even working towards making it a national affair.
The border closure was a legal step taken by the Rivers State Governor under the law to ensure public safety.
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike on March 19, 2020 formally signed an Executive Order for the closure of all land and borders into the state. According to the Executive Order, the closure of the land and sea borders took effect on Thursday, March 26, 2020.
The Executive Order signed by the Rivers State Governor on March 19, 2020 also suspended flights to the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa and Bonny Airstrip beginning Thursday, March 26, 2020.
The Executive Order signed by Governor Wike is titled: "EXECUTIVE ORDER RVSG - 01 2020 PURSUANT TO SECTIONS 2, 4 AND 8 OF QUARANTINE ACT, CAP. Q2 LAWS OF THE FEDERATION OF NIGERIA 2004 AND REGULATION 11 OF THE QUARANTINE (CORONA VIRUS (COVID-19) AND OTHER INFECTIOUS DISEASES) REGULATIONS, 2020."
The Executive Order stated: "In exercise of the powers conferred on me by Sections 4 and 8 of the Quarantine Act, Cap. Q2 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and regulation 11 of Quarantine (Corona virus (COVID â€“ 19) and Infectious Diseases) Regulations, 2020 and all other powers enabling me in that behalf, I Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, CON, GSSRS, Governor, Rivers State, hereby issue the following Orders."
The Rivers State Governor signed the order on 19th March, 2020.
Also on March 19, 2020, Governor Wike signed the Declaration of Dangerous Infectious Disease(SECTIONS 2 and 8) OF THE QUARANTINE ACT, CAP. Q2 LAWS OF THE FEDERATION OF NIGERIA, 2004.
The declaration stated: "Coronavirus (COVID - 19) is declared to be adangerous infectious disease within the meaning of the Act."
As the declaration stated, Governor Wike is taking the drastic measures because coronavirus is a dangerous infectious disease with the capacity to claim lives and negatively affect public safety, destroy the foundation of health infrastructure and weaken the structure of daily living by weakening the health infrastructure.
As a result, Governor Wike involved all sections of the society and the entire framework of governance in the state to drive the process of keeping Rivers people safe.
All the 23 Local Government Council Chairmen of Rivers State are leading the battle in their localities. All the Commissioners, Special Advisers and other Government officials have been mobilised to work with their respective Council Chairmen to keep their people safe.
Inside the state, Governor Wike and all stakeholders are working hard to contain the spread of coronavirus. They are working daily to ensure that Rivers people stay safe at home.
Aside the measures taken to check the spread of coronavirus, Governor Wike has taken the right step by developing Isolation and Treatment centres to cater for those who unfortunately contract the disease.
The State Index Case is at one of the treatment centres receiving treatment. Governor Wike has also put in place different teams of medical professionals across the state to intervene in case of emergencies. The same medical professionals are involved in contact tracing as is the case with Rivers index case.
Governor Wike is personally leading the Task Force to ensure the on Enforcement of the Ban on Public and Religious Gatherings in the state.
This is the core of the action needed to stem the tide of the spread of coronavirus. As Governor Wike leads at State Capital, the council chairmen lead at the local Government Areas. This is a collective fight and Governor Wike as usual is leading from the front.
This is a matter of life and death. That is the operational platform of Governor Wike. To save lives within the available expertise and resources of Rivers State.
We all know that coronavirus has no cure and the most important medicine is prevention. If the developed nations are battling to survive and incapable of treating those who have contracted the disease, it is only reasonable that we must continue to implement measures to check the spread.
Coronavirus is not a platform to seek accolades. What is the benefit of accolades when people are endangered and exposed to new infections on a daily basis.
This is a time to secure public safety. It is a period of strenuous engagement to protect the citizenry, even if it is at the risk of condemnations.
At the end of the day, what matters is that we all make it to the other side of coronavirus. That we are around to tell the story.
For Governor Wike, his commitment remains to protect the interest of Rivers State. And the interest of Rivers State at this juncture is to stay safe. Rivers people appreciate Governor Wike's proactive efforts and they have demonstrated their support.
Thankfully, the courage displayed by Governor Wike in taking very profound steps to limit the spread of coronavirus has been replicated in all the nation's geo-political zones. This shows that the common enemy is coronavirus. As all states continue to take courageous steps, so shall we collectively defeat coronavirus.
As worked towards concluding this general response to issues raised on Governor Wike's courageous fight against coronavirus, someone drew my attention to the "notice me" write up by Mr Austin Tam-George, Former Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Comminication. There is nothing new in the entire outside the word COVID-19. I refer the reader to the following links where I replied Mr Tam-George:
Tam-George is like the proverbial hen presiding over the case of a cockroach. The cockroach never gets Justice in such a court. Since Tam-George left the Rivers State Government, his highest appointment in politics and general career, he sees the name Nyesom Ezenwo Wike as his ticket to publication and relevance. Such a man lacks the moral ground to discuss public safety. COVID-19 is simply another opportunity to insult Governor Wike and get some likes from opposition elements like himself.
Tam-George resides at the den of the outbreak, but is too scared to say anything. At that community, someone went to LUTH, tested positive and was told to go home. We can only imagine the multiplier effect of that inaction at Tam-George lives in Lagos and only comes to Port Harcourt for religious programmes and political meetings of his faction of Rivers APC. During his stay for his religious pilgrimage he enjoyed the infrastructure and security of Rivers State, made possible by the pro-people leadership of Governor Wike.
Is Tam-George the only Former Commissioner for Information who lost his job and is now with the opposition? Why are the others not desperate to impress their masters through needless articles.
As I write, Oyo State has imposed curfew due to coronavirus, there is partial lockdown/curfew in Kaduna State and Benue State has resolved to close markets to check the spread of coronavirus. Enugu, Delta, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, Taraba, Sokoto, Cross River and Kano States have closed their borders to contain coronavirus. Kogi and Nasarawa States have restricted movement through their territories as they fight the virus.
Even Katsina State, the President's home state closed its interstate and international borders.
The Governor will continue to work for Rivers State. He is exercising their mandate and he is under obligation to protect their lives.
Imagine for a minute if the pressure is on Rivers State. You would have seen the worst of destructive journalism and horrible front Page analysis. These folks would have given Rivers State a name on the pages of newspapers. Recall the tag: "Rivers of Blood" during the period of security infractions in the state. When Governor Wike addressed the security infractions and other parts of the country had major security concerns, they couldn't figure out a name for these locations.
The Federal Government has donated N10BILLION to Lagos State and set up a laboratory in Ibadan in the bid to fight the deadly virus. Nothing has been given to Rivers State. The efforts at containment is basically the investment of the Rivers State Government under the leadership of Governor Wike.
Governor Wike is committed to the promotion of the safety of Rivers people in these tough times. He will not be distracted by critics who are only interested in being noticed.