Fellow Residents of Gombe State
It is with immense gratitude to Almighty Allah that I address you today on one of the challenges facing our dear State, Nigeria and indeed the entire World.
2. The challenge is none other than the novel coronavirus pandemic also referred to as COVID-19. As you are aware, the disease was first reported to the World Health Organization on the 31st of December, 2019, by the Chinese Government. Initially it affected the City of Wuhan but rapidly it spread to affect the whole of China. Over the past couple of months, the situation has exponentially escalated to become a global pandemic, affecting over 300,000 people and killing over 13,000 across 160 countries. This proves how close and knitted the world is despite the distances that separates us. Indeed, the world is a global village!
3. The disease has early symptoms that resemble common cold, characterized by fever, dry cough and tiredness. In extreme situations it progresses to respiratory failure and death. The virus spreads from person-to-person via air-droplets.
4. The first case in Nigeria was reported on the 27th February 2020 in Lagos State and since then many cases have been reported, currently standing at 30, in Lagos, Ekiti, Ogun States and the FCT.
5. As people of faith, I am sure we are not new to the trials and travails that afflict humanity from time to time. We must therefore not despair nor be discouraged knowing fully well that with continuous effort and perseverance, we shall prevail and overcome these challenges.
6. Although, there may be scepticism and conspiracy theories about the COVID-19, it is beyond reasonable doubt that the disease is here and has been causing carnage in many countries despite several efforts to contain its spread through social distancing and even lock downs.
7. While assuring you of government’s effort and commitment to fight the corona virus disease, I must appeal to the general public to complement government’s effort in the fight against the dreaded disease irrespective of different shades of opinion or position. Experience has shown that Corona Virus disease is no respecter of colour, creed, religion, size or level of development of any nation.
8. A close observation of recent developments necessitates that we must come to terms with the facts that the human race is facing one of its greatest challenge in history. However, I have an abiding faith that this challenge shall be overcome soonest.
9. I also appeal to the entire people of Gombe State particularly our traditional rulers, community and religious leaders to enlighten our people on the dangers of this disease and the need to adhere strictly to medical advice.
10. Our Government has always taken the health of its people as a serious business. It is against this background that we released funds to the Ministry of health in order to facilitate public sensitization on preventive measures against the disease, enhance surveillance activities for early detection of potential cases and ensure that medical supplies and equipment’s are stockpiled in the event of occurrence of the disease in our state.
11. The disease has continued to overwhelm the health systems of advanced countries despite their better health services, technological and economic advancement. As a result, global economy has been hit hard leading to major cities being across the world being locked down. The potential impact that COVID-19 poses to a developing country like Nigeria cannot be over-stated. The threat is real and imminent. We must brace up to face the herculean task of ensuring that no community transmission of the disease is allowed to happen. It is going to be difficult, but not impossible. Evidence has shown that preventive measures slow down the transmission rate. These measures range from simple practices such as frequent and regular washing of hands with soap and water or sanitizers, and keeping distance of a meter and a half away from people who are coughing, to far-reaching measures such as banning larger gatherings and complete lock down of cities and borders.
12. I will like to assure you that we have been monitoring the situation of the COVID-19 pandemic with keen interest, and all the proactive measures we took were guided by advice from technical experts. The reality is that COVID-19 is already at our door-steps, we must therefore brace-up to face this challenge. Over the next few weeks, we shall continue to review the situation and might have to make tough decisions where and when necessary. There is no easy way out of this very difficult situation.
13. I wish to ask for support from every one of us, as both government and individuals have a role to play in this great fight. You have a role to play as a health care worker, Traditional Ruler, Religious leader, Politician and a member of the Community. The fight against this pandemic is a collective responsibility.
14. While we continue to pray, we need to abide by scientifically proven preventive and protective measures. In accordance with the directives by the Presidential Task force on COVID 19, all schools in the state are hereby directed to close effective from tomorrow Tuesday 24th March, 2020 until further notice. Furthermore, congregations for ceremonies, religious and other social activities are advised to limit numbers so as to not exceed the 50-person maximum as advised by the committee. Additionally, we shall constitute a 21-man Task Force to be headed by a renowned Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Prof. Idris Mohammed to immediately review and continuously monitor the situation in the state.
15. Finally, I would like to end with a call to all residents of the state to join hands with the government in this task. This is the time to cement the bond of unity and brotherhood amongst ourselves so as to galvanize forces against this global pandemic.
16. On this note, I wish us Allah’s guidance and protection.
17. Thank you and may Allah bless Gombe State and the federal Republic of Nigeria.