The Delta State Government has reaffirmed the necessity of a lockdown in the state, saying it is to protect lives of citizens against the Coronavirus.
The Commissioner for Information in the state, Mr Charles Aniagwu, made this known while briefing newsmen on the outcome of a meeting between Governor Ifeanyi Okowa-led Central Committee on Prevention of COVID-19 Pandemic in Delta with chairmen of local government councils in the state, on Friday in Asaba.
Aniagwu said that as custodians at the grassroots, council chairmen had the responsibility of sensitizing local communities on the pandemic and to ensure full compliance of all measures announced by the state government, in their domains.
According to him, the need for us to shutdown has become very imperative because if people don’t move, the virus will not move and so, we appeal to our people to assist the government in averting the spread into our state.
“The governor today continued the sensitisation of key stakeholders in the state. This afternoon, we held meetings with chairmen of local government councils with the Commissioner of Police and others in attendance.
“The essence is to inform them of the steps we have taken as a state, and also intimate them on the need for them to go back to their different local governments and continue the sensitisation and be part of the different actions we have also taken.
“Emphasising the need for people to stay at home, the governor has directed that from 6 a.m. on Sunday, no vehicle will be allowed into or out of the state, while on April 1, all markets will be closed.
“So, we need the cooperation of the local governments to be able to take these messages to their people and also ensure that they cooperate with the security agencies in their different domains with a view to ensuring effective implementation of these decisions that the government has taken.
“We are happy to report that the chairmen have already started taking actions and what they are doing will deepen our desire to get our people to understand why we have to shutdown at a time like this,’’ he said.
The commissioner acknowledged that the prevailing situation was not the best of times for the people, but expressed confidence that “if we don’t move, the virus will not move. The virus is not airborne and once we are able to get our people to observe these different behaviours, particularly social distancing and closure of markets, we are sure that we will overcome.
“We give God the glory that up till this time, we don’t have it and we pray we don’t have it.”
On his part, Chairman, Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) in Delta, Mr Itiako Ikpokpo, said that the meeting emphasised the need for council chairmen to go back to their areas and continue the sensitisation on why government’s directives on the shutdown should be strictly obeyed.
He said that it was in the best interest of everybody to stay at home and maintain social distancing where necessary.
“Today we had an extended Joint Allocations and Accounts Committee (JAAC) meeting. It was extended because we had the Commissioner of Police, the Director, Department of State Services, Secretary to the State Government and of course, Commissioner for Information.
“Top on the agenda was the issues concerning the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for us to look at the areas of concern, and as you are aware, the governor has given direction on this matter in an address to people of the State and country, three times now.
“Where we are now is that we are preparing for a total lockdown or shutdown and we have taken very far-reaching decisions which include time and hours when filling stations can operate, because people really need to stay in their homes.
“Markets need to be shut down; essentials like food can only be sold in large spaces like primary schools where wares can be sold and shut by 4 p.m.
“We also agreed that marriages of more than 20 people in attendance can’t hold, and of course, the issues of churches and CAN have been over-emphasised.
“We have taken the issues of health very seriously and we have directed that all chairmen should go back to their respective local government areas and ensure that markets are fumigated and cleared.
“Emergency numbers have also been placed on red alert and basically, when you come from abroad in this kind of situation, you must self-isolate; so don’t see it as infringing on your rights when people report your presence to the medical health workers,’’ Ikpokpo said.
He assured that the police, the DSS and other stakeholders were ready to enforce the directives “for the health and safety of our people’’.
“All councils have called meetings of different segments – market women, stakeholders of all groups, Presidents-Generals of communities, youth leaders, women leaders, NULGE, NUT and traditional rulers in all local government councils where this message has been passed to them.
“So, what we are going back to do is to reiterate the fact that there is need for us to abide and adhere for the safety of our own people,” he added.