Press Briefing on COVID-19 and Security

  • 7 min read

Good evening and thank you for attending this briefing.

With recent happenings and talks of the second wave of COVID-19, it becomes necessary that I address you. Let me start by talking about the issue of this supposed second wave. I have always said that all our responses to COVID-19 in Oyo State will be guided by data, science and logic. As far as Oyo State is concerned, the data we have is not pointing to a second wave as the curve was never flattened to start with.

For example, between when we started testing people in March 2020 and December 2020, we conducted 20,000 tests out of which about 3,000 were positive for COVID-19. Per the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) guidelines, we tested mostly sick people or people who had direct interactions with those who had the virus.

The NCDC has revised those guidelines and made testing open to accommodate more people, including those who may not even be showing any symptoms. So, from December 2020 till date, we have conducted a further 14,000 tests and have had 696 positive cases.

So, it is clear that we did not have any flattening of the curve. Rather, we had more people becoming complacent and acting as if the pandemic was over. But the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) has continued its work of monitoring and enlightenment.

The data says COVID-19 is still very much with us. Science is telling us that we can slow down the spread by taking precautions, the logical thing to do is to follow what science dictates. We know how difficult 2020 was for a lot of us. So, logically, we should not do things that will make the situation worse. This is not the time to let down our guard. If anything, we should not take any of the precautions lightly. In the last month, we have unfortunately had eight deaths. So, even though many persons have mild to moderate symptoms, it is severe for a few. And since we do not know who it will be severe on, we need to keep our guard up.

On our part, we are doing everything within our power to provide more resources for the EOC to continue to manage the spread of this disease. We are facilitating greater collaborations between the laboratories, the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan and our Infectious Disease Centre at Olodo. We are also carrying out training for private clinics/hospitals, so they can follow the right protocols. And for those who may need oxygen, we are signing an MOU with Hermon Energy to use their facilities if need be.

On the issue of vaccines, the Federal government has allocated 1,800 vaccines for Oyo State, but we don’t have the facilities to store it at minus 70 degrees centigrade. Of course, this number is also grossly inadequate. So, we are exploring other means of getting these vaccines to our people. I have been advised that Astrazeneca vaccine is more suitable for Oyo State due to storage instructions. So we are opening discussions directly with the manufacturers to see how we can get as many as possible for our people.

And so, for now, the protocol remains the same, and Prof Temitope Alonge and his team will continue to manage the situation. But, you have to Own Your Action, and I have to own my action. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least twenty seconds or use an alcohol-based sanitiser.  Wear a mask and keep proper social distancing.

Let me now talk about the issue of Security in Oyo State.

For the past weeks since the Western Nigeria Security Network, code-named Amotekun were deployed to the 351 wards in Oyo State, we have seen various reports in the news. Most of these reports are good, a few are bad. And of the bad, quite a number are false information and fake news. For example, just a few days ago, some newspapers carried the story that Amotekun killed seven Fulani herdsmen in Ibarapa. Such false stories are circulated to stoke ethnic tension. Unfortunately, even some reputable media fell for this. Whereas the real story is that Amotekun worked with the community members, including genuine herdsmen, to flush out bad elements in that zone. It has, therefore, become necessary to put the good people of Oyo State on high alert.

There are people among us that do not want Amotekun to succeed, and they will use lies and disinformation to push their agenda. We must realise where we are coming from and think about where we really want to be. Community policing is the way forward, and we have to make it work. As I always say, I know that the trust deficit is low between the people and the authorities, and this makes it easier to think the worst of people in authority. But we should not cut our nose to spite our face. We must find a balance so that we do not turn the people trying to protect us into our enemies.

Anyone who has a genuine case against the members of the corps should come forward with their grievances. You can use any of the several channels that we have put in place to make your case known. And I can assure you that the case will be pursued to the full extent of the law. But we must all be watchful as there are people in our midst who only want to cause anarchy and so, we must not join them to spread fake news. We have some people who will say, Amotekun is getting out of hand. And then you ask them, what did they do? And they have nothing specific to say. They are just repeating things that they have heard.

So, we are also setting up a proper information channel for our security agencies.  We will make the contacts available. We urge members of the press to please confirm their stories, or at the very least get their side of the story before they publish.

We have also noted with dismay that some village heads are allocating land to undocumented foreigners. Any village heads found wanting in this regard will be sanctioned.

We are aware of how undocumented individuals may be contributing to insecurity. So we are going to be providing some documentation for them. For example, those who work in mines will have to be documented and a task force is being set up to do this.

We will also be meeting with the heads of the Association of Amalgamated Commercial Motorcycle and Tricycle, Owners, Repairers and Riders Association of Nigeria (ACCOMORAN), Oyo State to get them registered. This will go a long way to address how some people are hiding under their platform to commit crimes.

We have identified that there is presently some friction between the Oyo State Western Nigeria Security Network and the Nigeria Police in the state. We are all working towards the same goal, but sometimes we want to go about things differently. So, we are setting up a committee to iron out the frosty relationship between the two institutions and bring about an alignment of operations.

We are also putting in place other policies to address insecurity, especially with regards to youth restiveness. Last year, after the EndSARS protests, we talked about three things that we will be doing to reduce youth unemployment and improve the security situation in the state. We talked about the 500 Million Naira MSME fund we will set up; employment opportunities for 5,000 young persons across all government agency schemes; and the provisions for the Direct Labour Agency in the budget. We will be proceeding with these plans as scheduled this year.

The safety and security of all residents of Oyo State remain our top priority. We will continue to work relentlessly to tackle cases of kidnapping and insecurity in our state. I repeat that we will ensure that any member of the corps proved to have been highhanded in the discharge of their duties will face the full wrath of the law. So, I urge you all to please let members of the corps do their jobs without fear of being targeted for the work they are doing.

~ Governor Seyi Makinde, January 13, 2020