HELD AT GOVERNMENT HOUSE, LITTLE RAYFIELD, JOS ON 17TH SEPTEMBER 2020.
- It is with delight that I welcome you to this engagement that affords me the opportunity to brief you on our efforts so far in addressing the corona virus pandemic which has drastically affected every facet of lives of our people.
- You will recall that since this pandemic arrived the shores of our country, we took various steps to confront it and protect our people from its devastating consequences. We began with engagement and sensitization of critical stakeholders including the Chairmen of Local Governments and your Royal Highnesses.
- Thereafter, we took immediate steps to ensure that we guard against the disease. Some of these steps include closing all schools; ban on public gatherings, cultural festivals and anniversaries; closure of markets and borders; as well as offices and businesses.
- While that was going on, we constituted the Task Force on Covid-19 Chaired by me as well as embarked on a robust response plan which led to massive pubic enlightenment; the establishment of isolation centres; quarantine centres; and treatment facilities within the State.
- I also led the Task Team on a facility tour to Plateau Specialist Hospital, Jos University Teaching Hospital and the Bingham University Teaching Hospital, to ascertain our preparedness to respond to the challenges of Covid-19 where I immediately ordered the purchase ventilators, personal protective equipment and medications even before we recorded the disease in the State.
- Other actions such as declaring partial and total lockdowns were also implemented. Although such decisions were very painful, we had no option than to go that way in order to guarantee the well-being of our people.
- As tough as some of those decisions were, we could not shy away from taking them particularly when we consulted with all stakeholders who saw the merit in our actions. I therefore wish to once again thank the people of Plateau State particularly the Local Government Chairmen and Your Royal Highnesses for the support you have continued to render to Government.
- Other measures we took were the establishment of the situation room and surveillance centres, as well as the deployment of CCTV cameras to enable us keep an eye on developments across the entire State. We also decontaminated the State to reduce the risk of the disease.
- My engagements with the Federal Government as Member of the Nigerian Governors Forum and Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum facilitated the establishment of three testing centres in Plateau State. In addition, we have ordered for Mobile Testing Vans which have capacity to diagnose over 30 health conditions including Covid-19, HIV, Ebola, Hepatitis among others.
- Our current testing capacity as well as our sensitization and mobilization strategy has boosted our community testing, making Plateau State to be rated third best in the country, for which it has been commended by the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 and referred to as an example to be emulated.
- In terms of financial commitment, the State Government has so far committed about N366.5 million naira to the fight against Covid-19. Additionally, we launched the Plateau State Covid-19 Endowment Fund which saw good spirited individuals and corporate organisations making donations.
- We are grateful to kind hearted people that contributed about N123. 3 million naira as well as other food and medical items valued at about N155 million naira. The World Health Organisation also recently donated N100 million to the State Government which has greatly helped us to treat those infected by the virus.
- Such donations also enhanced our capacity to distribute palliatives to the weak and vulnerable to cushion the impact of the pandemic. The distributions have been handled in the most transparent manner under the supervision of His Excellency, the Deputy Governor, Prof. Sonni Tyoden.
- In addition, we received donations by the Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) comprising of Maize Flour, Pasta, Noodles, Sugar, Salt, and Semolina worth about N850 million naira for distribution to 39,993 households across the 17 local Governments. We are still expecting rice consignment from the CACOVID donation which will be distributed to the beneficiaries.
- Since the first Covid-19 index case was imported into Plateau State, we have recorded many other cases which are attributed to many factors including community spread and disregard for guidelines. The Commissioner of Health who is the Chairman of the Sub-Committee on health will give further details on the statistics of the pandemic.
- However, the biggest challenge remains the lack of compliance to guidelines and protocols, denials and resistance to contact tracing and testing by some individuals. That is why we need the support and cooperation of community and traditional rulers to overcome these challenges.
- That is why your presence here today is very crucial for us to work together to take measures that will lead to greater sensitization and enforcement within your domains. We need to curtail further spread of the disease by engaging our people to take personal responsibility for their health and the health of others. Many people are not using the facemasks, washing their hands or maintaining social distancing.
- As royal fathers, we expect you to lead in the next phase of our advocacy and sensitization to attain better compliance, particularly now that we are witnessing the opening up of more sectors of the economy. We need to wake our people from laxity. It is important to note that Covid-19 is not over yet.
- Preparatory to reopening of schools, we have set up a Committee headed by the Secretary to the Government of the State as well as sub-committees on Readiness and Compliance headed by the Commissioner for Secondary Education and Chairman, SUBEB respectively.
- We have trained teachers and Principals, dis-infected schools, and established task teams towards ensuring that all laid down protocols are observed. Once we finish with exit classes, we shall gradually cascade to other classes within secondary and primary levels.
- The success we record at these levels shall determine the reopening of tertiary institutions, all in a bid to guarantee the safety of our children and avoid resurgence. We hope that if all goes well, our schools should all re-open by the end of October.
- Realizing the natural endowment of Plateau State in terms of herbs and medicinal components, I constituted the Plateau Research Committee on Covid-19 to search for cure to the pandemic and other related ailments using local remedies. Again, you will be receiving update from the Chairman of the Committee Prof. Noel Wannang.
- The pandemic has seriously impacted negatively on the economy of the State and we are taking various measures to ensure we mitigate such impact. Recently, we reviewed the approved 2020 budget and also initiated efforts to look inwards for revenue and diversification. The Chairman of the State Economic Advisory Council will also brief you on the measures we are taking so far.
- I am also looking forward to hearing from you on what you think we can do better to salvage our State from the threat of this pandemic. We are at a difficult moment where we need to put behind us all differences and work together in the interest of our people.
- As Governor, I want to re-assure you and the entire people of Plateau State that my administration is not leaving any stone unturned in overcoming this disease. I am in constant touch with the Federal Government, the private sector and international partners to ensure that Plateau is captured in all Covid intervention plans.
- Once more, I welcome you to this parley and urge you to continue to play your part as we work to defeat this pandemic.
- Thank you for listening. God bless Plateau State and our country Nigeria.
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Rt. Hon. (Dr) Simon Bako Lalong, KSGG
Executive Governor of Plateau State.