By Franklyn Isong

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) announced the first five positive cases in the State on April 2, 2020. The governor responded promptly by announcing a 14 days total lockdown of the State to curb the spread of the disease.

Before then, on Monday, March 30, 2020, the governor had signed into force, a partial lockdown for 30 days, through the Quarantine and Restriction of Movement Regulations 2020. The Regulations covered the 31 local government areas of the State.

Even though, there were and are complaints on information management, and complaints against the Commissioner for Health, Dominic Ukpong, one would say with the NCDC rating Akwa Ibom 99 percent on Contact Tracing and 2.7 percent on the Proportions of Contacts that have developed (suggestive) symptoms, which according to NCDC, is a great success ratio, that the government deserves a pat on the back.

Weeks ago, the government distributed Palliatives, to wit; garri, rice and flour to almost all the 2,274 recognised villages in the State and other groups to cushion the effects of the pandemic, though, this exercise is still a subject of controversy due to its poor handling by the committee set up to oversee it. The governor has said repeatedly to those who care to listen that food items so distributed were gotten from Processing Mills within the State established by this government. This is highly commendable.

The government is embarking on a 300-bed isolation centre at Ituk Mbang for patients of Coronavirus in the State, which the governor said will be ready in two weeks time. This is to complement facilities in Ibom Specialist Hospital, Uyo, and Ikot Ekpene Isolation Centre.

Yesterday, May 1, 2020, the governor inaugurated a highpowered, Akwa Ibom State Post COVID-19 Economic Re-construction Committee. This is very thoughtful of the governor. A step in the right direction being the first in the country since the outbreak of COVID-19.

In the nearest future, as part of agenda setting, yours truly will spot on this 20-member all-important Committee.

On Wednesday, April 29, 2020, as a Guest Analyst on a live radio show tagged; STATE OF THE NATION, on Passion 94.5 FM, Uyo, I had proffered the need for the governor to work inline with the Federal Government’s programmes with respect to gradual relaxation of the total lockdown of the State. This much was re-echoed by Yours truly as a Guest Analyst featuring along with Prof. Robert Oghenedoro Dode on a live radio programme, tagged; ISSUES IN THE NEWS, on Comfort 95.1 FM, Uyo, on Thursday, April 30, 2020.

This morning, I am pleased that we have a listening governor in Udom Emmanuel. He has reflected the views and opinions of Akwa Ibom people in his State broadcast by aligning the State with the federal government.

“…Therefore, as a law abiding component of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and in line with the guidelines for the relaxation of some restrictions which were put in place to enable us manage the pandemic and determined to open up our economy and put our State back to work again, I wish to make the following declarations:…” The Governor said in his broadcast today, May 2, 2020.

The governor is aware and it has always been my considered opinion that as a federating unit of the Nigerian State, Akwa Ibom cannot work in isolation of the federal government, if we must succeed in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, politics aside.

The governor has relaxed the total lockdown effective Monday, May 4, 2020. He made the use of face mask by all persons compulsory in
public places. And imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew all over the State from the hours of 8pm to 6am.

While the ban on religious gatherings, hospitality services, social gatherings, parties, funerals and concerts remain in effect until further notice. All plazas and recreational centres are
to remain closed.

There is still a ban on inter-State movement, except essential services involving agricultural or medical personal.

Markets will be opened three times a week, (Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays) between 10 am – 4 pm to enable people stock up their supplies. Face masks must be worn and social distancing must be observed by all.

All passengers using public transport must make use of face mask. Tricycles must not carry more than three passengers. Taxis must carry a maximum of three persons (One in front and two behind), and buses must not carry more than two persons per row. All public transport operators must provide hand sanitizers in their vehicles.

For me, this is a responsible approach expected of a responsible leader, as doing otherwise, would have further thrown the State and her people into more devastating economic hardship.

Methinks the Governor should be supported, encouraged and prayed for, to lead the State out of this pandemic and not taunted!

As a social critic, I make haste to advise that when we criticise government and her officials, it shouldn’t be destructive but responsibly constructive, offering solutions to the problems where necessary.

As human, Governor Emmanuel has his flaws no doubt, but give it to him, he has performed excellently in the handling of this novel global health crisis (COVID-19). He needs our prayers now, more than ever!

This is my candid assessment of the situation, thus far!

  • Franklyn Isong is a public affairs commentator and conscience of the society

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