How Ibarapa communities rose to combat COVID-19 with state government

The Oyo State Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Dr Wasiu Olatubosun, was recently in Ibarapa, on behalf of the state government and Covid-19 task force to round off sensitisation exercise and distribution of about one million face masks across the state. SUNDAY ADEPOJU reports. 


Eight days after the Oyo State government ended sensitisation and distribution of thousands of face masks to residents in Oke Ogun zone of the state in a bid to combat the spread and transmission of the dreaded COVID-19 the train led by the Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Dr Wasiu Olatubosun, moved to Ibarapa axis of the state.

Dr Olatubosun, who represented the state governor and chairman of the Covid-19 Task Force, Seyi Makinde, during the sensitization exercise, explained that the state government had produced one million face masks which were distributed for free across the 33 local governments and 35 local council development areas of the state.

The exercise which ended in Igangan, one of the seven major Ibarapa communities, went through Eruwa, the hometown of the current speaker of the State House of Assembly, Mr Debo Ogundoyin, son of the late business tycoon and philanthropist, Chief Adeseun Ogundoyin, to other communities like Lanlate, Igboora, Aiyete, Igangan, Tapa and Idere.

While speaking at the popular New Garage in Eruwa, the headquarters of Ibarapa East Local Government, where the exercise kicked off, Dr Olatubosun explained that before the government began the sensitization for the people of the state, especially those in the rural areas, it had identified community engagement as a viable option in reaching the people and in getting their feedbacks.

“Governor, Seyi Makinde felt that we should be engaging groups, associations, community leaders, market men and women, and significantly our traditional institutions who are custodians of our traditions. We met the people in their natural environment.  We believe that every resident has a role to play in this trying period of Covid-19 which is ravaging the world.

“The state government produced a million pieces of face masks and has distributed them to communities in the state. We ensured that all the zones and council areas in the state benefitted from the face masks project. We engaged our tailors in the state through their associations. In the council areas, we targeted markets, groups, and so on. We also felt that before entering any community, we must first pay a visit to the king to intimate them of our plans and that is what we did in most of the communities visited,” he said.

Part of the messages delivered by Olatubosun to the people of the zone is the position of the government on the compulsory wearing of face mark by every resident of the state. This, he said, would be enforced soon.

“It has now become compulsory for every resident of the state to wear a face mask when going out. By today, as we round up the Ibarapa tour, we have reached all the zones in the state. By the time the government starts the enforcement of the compulsory wearing of the face masks, no one will feign ignorance as excuse for not wearing it,” he said.

The commissioner expressed the belief that change must begin in every home before it can penetrate the larger society, adding that the role of traditional rulers is crucial in communicating the message on precautionary measures of the coronavirus pandemic to the people. He charged them to support the government’s agenda on the disease control.

“I encourage traditional rulers as the change agents in the state to spread the message to all the nooks and crannies of their communities to complement government’s efforts. As we have kings, we also have chiefs, heads of families, and to every member of every family. Let the message reach every person and let us all be aware that Covid-19 is real,” he warned.

Speaking in Eruwa and other communities, Mrs Titilope Akinleye, the state disease surveillance and notification officer charged residents to contribute their quota in waging war against the transmission of the virus. “She said: The virus is unprecedented because we have never experienced such a scourge and the mode of contracting it is different from other diseases that have ravaged the world. It is contracted through sneezing, saliva of the infected person either through the nostril or mouth and so on. The symptoms include headache, coughing, sneezing, breathing difficulty, and so on.

Some of the infected people may be asymptomatic. The asymptomatic carriers may pose danger to our communities and states by transmitting the virus to others because they don’t show symptoms. It may pose danger to elderly people due to weak immune system.

“Please, don’t be part of the people who believe that the disease is not real and that the government uses it to embezzle funds that are voted to it. That is why there have been various means of sensitisation by government.

“There have been messages on social distancing, washing of our hands with soap and water regularly, covering of our mouth when sneezing/coughing or using tissue paper, throwing of used tissue paper to dust bin after sneezing or coughing there, avoiding touching our mouth, nostril and eyes with our unwashed hands, sneezing and coughing in our bent elbow, among others.

“The reason is that we may place our hands on an object that an infected person had sneezed, coughed and spit on. By putting hands on the object and dipping such hands into our mouth, nostril or eyes,we will contract the virus.”

Speaking with Nigerian Tribune at the Eruwa Town hall, the Onilala of Lanlate, Oba Sunday Bolawaye Oguntayi, advised the people of the zone to obey the measures of stopping the spread of the virus among communities.

“Our people should follow all the necessary steps and measures of the government that can prevent the spread of the virus. The state government has been doing a lot in this regard through newspapers, radio, television, social media platforms and outdoor advertising media. The governor, Seyi Makinde, deserves commendation. I’m assuring the government as we do this sensitization today, we will also, on our own, move to hamlets, villages and towns to continue in the fight against the spread of the pandemic,” Oba Oguntayi stated, beseeching the state government to hold on with the ban on religious gathering as he believes “we have to wait before we lift the ban. We have to wait for some months before we decide on whether to lift the ban or not.”

At the meeting at the town hall where the train of the government spoke with traditional heads in Ibarapa communities and residents, there was also community sensitisation as the Seriki of Eruwa, Chief Moses Oladele, rendered a song titled “Corona Maa lo” (Flee from our land, Coronavirus).

The caretaker chairman of Ibarapa Central Local Government Area, Mr Sarafadeen Olaito, while speaking at the palace of the Olu of Igboora, Oba Jimoh Olajide Titiloye, lauded the governor for his love for those in the rural areas.

“Let me give kudos to our darling governor for his love for the people of the rural areas and by, extension, Dr Olatubosun who has always made himself available for the task of building of a glorious Oyo State. I want to assure the administration that our traditional rulers in Ibarapa Central are fully supporting the development agenda of the state,” Olaito pledged.

Oba Titiloye on his part said the government had been enjoying the support of traditional rulers.

“We, the traditional rulers here will have to reciprocate the love the governor has for the state and, in particular, for the crown and the beads. On the inauguration of the governor, we were also there and up till now, we have been very supportive.

“However, we want to send Dr Olatubosun to the governor that the Ibarapa Central Traditional Council wants to meet him for the development of our land. But before then, we thank him for the way he has handled the Covid-19 even as the chairman of the task force.

“I think the governor has sent face masks and hand sanitisers to us here more than once since the virus broke out. By God’s grace, the virus will not enter Ibarapa and it will be wiped out of Oyo State and the surface of the earth,” Oba Titiloye said.

As done in other communities, bags of face masks was given to the traditional rulers at the Olu of Igbora palace before proceeding to the Oja Oba Market and other streets for the distribution of the face masks and the sensitisation.

At the palace of the Asigangan of Igangan, Oba Lasisi Adeoye, Mr Olusegun Okedeji, the caretaker chairman of Ibarapa North-West Local Council Development Area, Igangan commended Governor Makinde for the gesture of the face masks and the sensitisation. “In the distribution of this Covid-19 face masks, we have seen that our governor is a lover of every citizen of the state. He doesn’t want this disease to spread to anywhere in the state. And that is the reason he has remembered those of us in the rural areas.

“We want to appreciate the governor for that effort and we are expressing the appreciation of our royal father, the Asigangan of Igangan and the entire community for the beautiful gesture. I must sincerely say that the governor is doing extremely well not only in the way he handles Covid-19 but generally for his understanding of the plight of both the rich and the poor in the state before he was sworn-in as governor,” he said.

On compliance level of the residents of Igangan with the measures of the government on Covid-19, Mr Okedeji maintained that, “up till now, since we did not have any case of the infection here, we have been monitoring people’s movements and convergence, even within our markets. Our people have been complying with the directives and guidelines of the government on Covid-19. Concerning the closeness of our area to borders, we have mandated our vigilante operatives to be manning the various routes in the borers. The immigration officers are doing their works. We don’t allow outsiders to be coming to this place.”

A community leader in Eruwa, Mr Adeleke Tajudeen, expressed sadness on the increasing cases of the virus in the state and called on the government and individuals to fight the pandemic by shunning activities that can escalate its spread.

Stressing the importance of the tour of the various communities and zones in the state, Olatubosun expressed confidence that the sensitisation and the distribution of the face masks by the state government had been impactful due to the feedbacks generated in the various engagements.



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