Nyesom Wike, Rivers State Governor, on Friday said his administration would reintroduce the lockdown strategy of fighting the Coronavirus pandemic if residents continued to disobey the safety rules of physical distancing and wearing of face masks designed to contain the virus.
The governor in a statewide broadcast to mark the first year of his second term in office decried the spread of the virus despite strict measures he put in place to contain it lamenting that 12 persons had so far died of COVID-19 in the state.
Wike, who reeled out many of his achievements, called on Rivers people no matter their political affiliation to join hands with his administration to build a stable and vibrant economy.
The governor, who observed that in the last six months, the coronavirus visited humankind with pains sorrow and destruction, said it was unfortunate that the speed and vigour of his government’s emergency response measures could not stop the virus from spreading in Rivers.
He said the people must accept the reality of living with the virus and its consequences until the discovery of an effective vaccine and prayed for quick success for the global search for vaccines and therapeutics.
But he said prior to the discovery of an effective facing, everybody has the responsibility to strictly and effectively comply with the established mitigating measures.
He said: “As at today, we’ve painfully lost twelve persons, and probably more, to the death pangs of the coronavirus. For us, every life matters; and every life lost is a monumental tragedy, not only to the immediate families but also, to all of humanity.
“Regrettably, we have observed that the advisories, directives and regulations on social distancing and the compulsory wearing of face masks are being ignored at alarming proportions in the State, much to our collective discomfort and peril.
“So many people are moving about on our streets and into other public places without face masks. We have sighted businesses, including banks and shopping centres attending to customers without face masks or maintaining physical distancing.
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“We have also seen people on our streets buying and selling without face masks or observing social distancing in clear disregard of the ban on clustered trading activities and unauthorized social gatherings.
“These are all very irresponsible and risky behaviour in the face of the invisible and ravaging pandemic and the enormous threat it poses to public health and the safety of human lives.
“Those who continue to exhibit or encourage such callous behaviour or trivialize the fatal power of this virus or still live in denial of its existence are either insane or the worst enemies of mankind. Believe it or not, the transmission of this pandemic depends on our own individual behaviour, actions or inactions.
“We must therefore all strive to help ourselves, our families, our communities and our State by complying religiously with the laid down regulations and advisories on social distancing and wearing of face masks.
“Let me therefore warn us again, that enough is enough. We shall bring the full weight of the law to bear on every recalcitrant person, business or institution, irrespective of status or station who decides to treat the existing orders and regulations for mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in our State with contempt.
“While we have reserved the recourse to total lockdown for obvious reasons, it appears we may be forced to reinstate this drastic measure, sooner than later, if members of the public continue to flout, disregard and or abuse the established regulations on social distancing and the compulsory wearing of face masks in the state.”
Wike noted that the state could overcome the present global economic situation if citizens worked together in unity of thought and purpose.
“Yes, we can if we resolve to downplay our individual differences and work together for the common good of our heritage, our lovely State, our communities and our people. As a government, we welcome constructive criticisms devoid of politics and mischief, because they serve to make us better performers.
“This is a time for governance, not politics, and we welcome everyone on board to create an environment that promotes balanced economic growth, thriving private investments, boundless opportunity and a State we can truly call our pride and heritage.
“For us, nothing matters more than Rivers State, our people, our interests, our treasures, our enormous resources and assets, our accomplishments and our greatness,” he said.
The governor said within the last year, his administration embarked on urban renewal programme in the state capital and the construction of the multi-billion naira three flyover projects at Rebisi, Okoro-nu-Odo and Rumuogba.
He said that the dualization of Kira- Sapkenwa-Bori-Kono Road straddling three local government areas in Ogoni heartland has reached 92 per cent completion.
The Oyibo(Mbano camp) road to Iriebe linking Oyigbo and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas had been completed while Alesa-Agbonchia-Oyigbo, Rumuakunde/Isiodu and the second phase of Isiokpo community Roads had also been completed.
Rumuji-Ibaa-Isiokpo, Omoku-Egbema, Odufor-Akpoku-Umuoye, Ula Ehuda-Odioku-Anwunugboko-Ubeta-Ihuechi-Odiereke, Umueze-Umuogba-Umuokpurukpu-Umueke-Umunju-Umuelechi-Eberi, Eteo-Sime-Nonwa and Abonnema Ring Roads have reached various stages of completion.
In addition, the governor said, work commenced on the expansion of the entire stretch of Ikwerre Road from Education Bus Stop to the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa.
According to him, the long-abandoned roads to the coastal communities of Opobo and Andoni in Opobo/Nkoro and Andoni Local Government Areas has almost been delivered with appreciable work already done on the Ogoni-Andoni-Opobo Unity Road.
On healthcare delivery, the governor said the Mother and Child Hospital has been furnished, equipped and only undergoing necessary testing and preparations for commissioning.
The Braithwaite Memorial Hospital, he said, has been fully equipped and converted to the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH) leading to the accreditation of the programmes of that facility for the training of medical students by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria.
Wike stated that the regional referral hospitals in Degema, Bori and Degema are presently being equipped while structural work is on-going on the ones located in Omoku and Etche.
He noted that funds had been released for a comprehensive upgrade of Enitonnia High School, Comprehensive Secondary School, Borikiri, Obama High School, Degema, Community Secondary School, Tombia, Community Secondary School, Omuanwa in Ikwerre Local Government Area and Kalabari National College, Buguma.
Others are community Secondary School, Kugbo in Abua/Odual Local Government, Community Secondary School, Obeakpu in Oyigbo Local Government and Community Secondary School, Mateo in Eleme Local Government Area.
On Real Madrid Academy, Wike announced that the construction of students’ hostels was progressing and that the school would soon open for simultaneous football and related training programmes.
He said in line with the promise to refocus on agricultural development, the Data Cassava Processing Plant with a guaranteed off-market opportunity for 3000 local cassava farmers would soon be completed to stimulate cassava revolution in the state.