COVID-19: Schools, churches, mosques will be last places to be reopened ― Makinde

• Says Amotekun will become fully operational in one month’s time

Oyo State governor, Mr Seyi Makinde, has urged with religious leaders to remain patient in their yearning for the state government to order the reopening of churches and mosques.

This is as he said keeping to the projected July 15 date for the resumption of schools depended on risk situation analysis continuously being done by experts.

Contained in his state of the state address delivered on the floor of the state Assembly, on Wednesday, Makinde pointed out that schools, religious houses will be among the last to be reopened.

Noting that he kept his eyes on the number of COVID-19 cases recorded in the state, Makinde said the decision to relax the ban on schools and religious gatherings will only be informed by science, data and logic.

As part of measures to curtail the spread of COVID-19, Makinde had in March announced the closure of schools, night clubs and banned religious gatherings.

As of Tuesday night, the total number of confirmed cases in the state stands at 398, out of which 279 cases are active, while 112 persons have been declared recovered.

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“You will agree with me that one of the areas that suffered under the COVID-19 climate is the education sector. Schools were among the first places to be shut down and will be among the last to be reopened.

“We have projected a July 15 date for the resumption of schools. But that date is dependent on the risk situation analysis presently being carried out by the experts.

“For this same reason, we have held off from reversing our directive on religious gatherings. We saw what happened when a private organisation did not follow the advisories we provided to the letter.

“Over 50 per cent of COVID-19 cases in Oyo State can be traced to this organisation. So, I take this opportunity to again plead with or religious leaders to be patient with us.

“We are keeping our eyes on the numbers and will adjust this directive at the right time.

“I have repeated, every time I have had an opportunity that our response has been based on science, data and logic. We have been careful to ensure that our response to this pandemic does not create more problems than the pandemic itself,” Makinde said.

He, however, pointed out that the government continued to ramp up COVID-19 testing with the intention of mapping the transmission of coronavirus in communities.

So far, he declared that 3,500 tests had been done. This is as he disclosed that the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), on Tuesday, approved the Biorepository and Clinical Virology Lab in the University College Hospital, Ibadan as a second diagnostic laboratory for testing of COVID-19 in the state.

Makinde, in his address, further disclosed that corps of the Oyo State security network agency codenamed Amotekun will become fully operational within the next one month.

“We are constituting the Amotekun Corps, which, as you are aware, will complement the efforts of the federal security forces in securing the state. Within the next one month, they will be fully operational,” Makinde said.

With regards to agriculture, he said the state will commence the upgrade of Akufo and Eruwa farm settlements into farm estates in July.

He attributed COVID-19 as a reason for the delayed takeoff of the farm settlements upgrade, adding that the N7.5billion approved for the purpose was only released by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to the state in March.

On incessant issues of rape, Makinde commended moves by the state legislature to review existing laws on rape and other forms of sexual violence.

Avowing that the state had zero tolerance for all forms of sexual violence, he assured that the executive arm will enforce all laws that will stamp out sexual violence in the state.

“I want to also at this point, commend the moves by this legislature to review the laws on rape and sexual assault. We all know that one of the best ways to address any type of crime is to strengthen the legislation around it.

“On our part, we will do well to enforce the laws as directed by the judiciary,” Makinde said.

Doing a run-down of its activities in the past one year, Speaker of the Assembly, Honourable Adebo Ogundoyin said the state Assembly had passed 34 bills, 37 motions and several resolutions.

Addressing rubber-stamp notions, Ogundoyin said the Assembly only aligned with focused, purposeful, intelligent leadership provided by the state governor, Makinde.

“In some cases, it is very easy for media personalities or some people to label a House of Assembly as a rubber stamp. But in a situation where the vision of the leader, in our case, Governor Seyi Makinde, is so clear, direct and intelligent, brilliant, if you want to prove that you are not a rubber stamp, then you will be exhibiting stupidity to go against a plan that is so well thought out and so well executed.

“We will not fight commonsense; we will not fight intelligence; we will always be in tandem with what will develop the state even more,” Ogundoyin said.

Earlier, the Assembly had granted the prayer of Honourables Akeem Mustapha (Kajola) and Ayo Fatokun (Akinyele) that a state of emergency is declared on gender and sexual-based violence in the state.

NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

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