Debo Adeoye, Ibadan
As the number of confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Nigeria rose to 35 with one death early Monday morning, the Oyo State Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has raised alarm over poorly equipped COVID-19 Centers created by the State Government to handle emergencies in the State.
This is contained in a statement signed by its Secretary, Sola Oladapo and made available to newsmen on Monday in Ibadan.
The Union also tasked the Government to enforce full implementation of Stay-at-home order in schools as students were still seen going to schools on Monday.
The Union asked the State Governor, Engineer Seyi Makinde to ensure that public motor parks are quarantined while park managers must ensure that sanitizers are administered to those boarding vehicles.
The NUJ Chairman, Comrade Demola Babalola had on Sunday set-up 11-man Committee headed by Mrs OyeBukola Oriowo to ensure accurate reporting of COVID-19 preparedness and to through reporting, draw the attention of the Taskforce to areas inadvertently neglected.
While acknowledging the activation of COVID-19 centers, an on-the-spot visitation by some members of the team showed unpleasant state of preparedness.
Some journalists who visited the government designated Centre for infectious disease control which would double as Emergency Operation Centre in Olodo area of the city reported that there was no indication of adequate preparedness on the part of government.
A team who visited the Olodo center was disturbed that the announced center was still a ghostland with bushes and access blocked.
“We learnt a team led by Dr Bashir Bello, the State Commissioner for Health visited the facility but didn’t have access as they had no keys. Another member of our team contacted UCH and found that they were yet to get any funding assistance from state government for this pandemic.
“All they have on ground now at UCH is a 4-bedded isolation centre with an empty chlorine tank, non functional monitoring device , no water etc yet the Governor said he has directed funds to be made available but evidences on ground suggest otherwise. The Governor must be on top of this as people are fearful when they know everyone is susceptible.
“At 2 Division, Nigerian Army, Odogbo in Ibadan is another isolation centre. No test kit except from Lagos. Medical consumables are inadequate. staff strength not a cheerful issue.”
The Union wondered if the state government was really ready for the task of fighting COVID-19 global pandemic going by its slow response and poor sensitization of the public and enforcement of its order.
“Oyo is one of the biggest states in the country with many porous entries and exits according to the Nigeria Custom Service (NCS). At this time of COVID-19 global pandemic, are we really monitoring these entries?
“Have we extended some of these facilities and designated centres to the various zones of the state to facilitate immediate response to suspected cases. The state government must be proactive to save lives. We gathered that the Oluyole woman suspected to be infected with the virus had on Sunday driven herself to a private hospital after three days of “no” personal contact from government team.”
“The Oluyole woman whom the governor spoke about three days ago as a suspected case, has not been visited till this afternoon (Sunday) by any government official. The woman had risen to the occasion and drove herself to a private hospital in Ibadan,” it said.
“On Monday, students of some private schools still attended school in defiance to the Government order. Government needs to be firm in enforcing the order. We also feel for the safety of all, Oyo State should declare two days break for workers to stay at home.
This is not the time to be complacent. States in Western Nigeria are doing this and the pacesetter cannot lag behind in protecting over 6million peoples. We also feel government should come out about worship in religious centers and enforce compliance.
The purpose for staying at home is defeated If we order people to stay at home but they converge as multitude in religious centers. Only the living will worship God. We also have information that some expatriates sneaked-in into some private companies in Ibadan such as SUMAL. The company also has huge number of casual workers. How are they ensuring adherence to safeguard measures?
Government should be proactive and partner with media organisations to sensitize the public. Government should advise postponement of family functions that will bring more than fifty people together.
“Government actors should not be seen involved in activities such as social events, or functions which can threaten collective resolve to fight the pandemic.
“Health personnel must be adequately protected and insured to be able to give in their best. We need to walk the talk. A stitch in time saves nine. ” NUJ stressed.