In Oke Ogun, govt, traditional rulers, residents raise stakes against COVID-19
Recently, the Oyo State COVID-19 Task Force Team embarked on a week-long sensitisation tour of the Oke Ogun zone of the state in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the state. Representing the chairman of the task force, Governor Seyi Makinde, was the Oyo State commissioner for information, culture and tourism, Dr Wasiu Olatubosun, who led the train and presented thousands of face masks to the people on behalf of the government. SUNDAY ADEPOJU, who was part of the tour, reports efforts to curb the spread.
It was a marathon one-week tour of the Oke Ogun axis of Oyo State in South-West Nigeria as the state government, led by Mr Seyi Makinde, who was represented by the commissioner for information, culture and tourism, Dr Wasiu Olatubosun, embarked on aggressive sensitisation to halt the spread of the coronavirus.
Despite the fact that the state government had engaged various platforms to reach out to the people of the state on the need to curb the spread of the deadly disease, the government moved to the grassroots in what Dr Olatubosun called “community engagement” and making use of the town crier, a form of the indigenous media of communication, which is called akede in Yoruba language.
Olatubosun, throughout the exercise, made use of gong to draw the attention of the people on how to stop the spread of the pandemic.
He had earlier told Nigerian Tribune that the train would move across the towns and villages of Oke Ogun to sensitise the people on the pandemic, why they must take precautions, and to distribute face masks to the people of the zone.
Oke Ogun, regarded as the food basket of the state, has ten local government areas and eight local council development areas. Earlier, the team had visited Ogbomoso and Ibadan zones for the same exercise.
At 1:00p.m. on Thursday, the train headed by Dr Olatubosun, stopped in Igbeti, the headquarters of Olorunsogo Local Government Area, which is one of the towns bordering Kwara. Having received the train by the officials of the local government, as led by the council’s caretaker chairman, David Ayandeyi, he inspected the border on the north of Igbeti.
The team of the state government, which also included a member of the Nigeria Red Cross Society, representing the Risk Communication Pillar of the Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) of the state’s COVID-19 Task Force, Adekunbi Oladipo, visited traditional rulers of the areas with a view to engaging them to propagate the message of combating the spread of the virus in the state.
Commencing from Igbeti to Kisi, Igbope, Igboho, Ogbooro, Agbonle, Ago Amodu, Sepeteri, Oje Owode, Saki to Oke Ogun, the government got adequate feedback from communities through the question-and-answer sessions held.
Olatubosun explained: “We are moving to our communities to meet our people in their natural environment and the state government will not relent in providing succour to the people. We have not only come here during this COVID-19 period, the government will sustain the strategy of meeting to gauge their feedback on the government programmes and policies.
“For instance, at some fora like Mofowokun Market in Igboho and Kara Market in Kisi, like many others, questions on whether or not the pandemic is real were raised by the residents. Another common issue which was cleared is the insinuation that governments at various are only amplifying the pandemic in order to get funds either from the Federal Government or from the international world.”
While enlightening the public on the need to avoid the spread of the virus in some communities in the zones, Oladipo, urged people to abide by the laid-down precautions which include regular hand washing, compulsory wearing of face masks, avoiding crowded places, use of hand sanitiser, avoiding sneezing openly, among others.
Non-compliance with face mask directive to attract prosecution
Nigerian Tribune observed that in many towns and villages of the zone, there was non-compliance with the precautions on the use of face masks and social distancing. At Owode Market, Igboho, no single person in the market was seen wearing a face mask. At the palace of Iba of Kisi land, Iba Moshood Oyekola, Dr Olatubosun stated that the level of compliance on nose and face covering was low.
“When I entered Kisi land, I discovered that the level of compliance on wearing of face masks was very low. I urge all the security apparatuses to join hands with traditional rulers with a view to combating the nefarious virus,” he said.
In his response, Iba Oyekola vowed that he, together with government and security agencies, would ensure that people abide by the precautions of the government and its agencies.
Olatunbosun, at the palace of the Onigbeti of Igbeti, Oba Emmanuel Oyekan Oyebisi, explained that the state government believes in the welfare and good health of every resident of the state, as government cannot exist without people.
He explained that the state task force had produced over one million face masks and that such are being distributed to residents in the state for free. He told the Onigbeti-in-Council, community leaders, market men and women as well as representatives of various organisations to spread the message of curtailing the spread of COVID-19.
Olatubosun, who expressed the administration’s commitment to seeking the welfare of the people, hinted that the task force would soon enforce the compulsory wearing of the face masks which, he said, erring individuals would be prosecuted and fined N20,000 each.
At Ajegunle Parapo Market in Saki, an Egyptian mathematician and Arabic scholar, Mr Adel Gouda, who was in the market to buy food stuff, said it was imperative that the residents understood the dangers associated with the pandemic.
“I can say that Nigerians are good, but they have refused to take precautions, especially in rural communities. I beseech all residents to form the habit of wearing face mask because coronavirus is real. It is annoying that some people still don’t believe that the virus is real,” Gouda stated.
Security agencies, others to help curb illegal immigrants coming in through Oke Ogun borders – Govt
Oke Ogun shares borders with many states and countries. For instance, in Kishi, residents told Nigerian Tribune that after the popular Kara Market in Kishi, there are also places like Mosegada, Gberia, Keyamo, and other villages in Kwara State. Interestingly, Oke Ogun is a border to countries like Togo, Benin Republic, Burkina Faso and some others.
On the first day of the tour, when the train of the sensitisation team got to Igbeti through Ogbomoso zone of the state at exactly 1:00p.m., the commissioner went straight to the boundary between Igbeti and Sakiru, one of the border towns to Kwara, where there were security agencies ensuring strict compliance with the ban on inter-state travel.
The commissioner warned the residents of the area to desist from harbouring illegal migrants, saying “It is our people who want to engage Togolese as labourers on their farms. We are not helping matters if we continue doing this.
“In Oke Ogun here, we have inter-state and inter-country borders. We have at Kisi, Saki and other areas. So, what we can do is to strengthen the security, sensitise the community leaders, traditional rulers to help us work in synergy with the conventional security. Let’s engage the vigilante men, hunters that will form non-conventional security. It is the non-conventional that can determine what and how to curb the migrants. At times, such migrants take bush paths and it is only those who are native to an area that can track the illegal entrances using their native intelligence.”
He maintained that the feedback from communities in the state was favourable, saying that the COVID-19 task force has been releasing the phone numbers of the Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) to the people.
Traditional rulers, council bosses laud Makinde, pledge to support govt’s agenda
In all the palaces visited, the traditional rulers saluted the efforts of the state government. At the Onigbeti’s palace in Igbeti, the Chief Imam of Igbeti, Alhaji Abubakar, stressed the need for government to extend the coverage of the state’s television station to the zone. Similarly, the Oloje of Oje Owode, Oba Abdulrasheed Oyinloye, said there is a branch of Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State (BCOS) in Oje Owode.
“It was given to us during the reign of Chief Kolapo Isola, the then state governor. During the tenure of Otunba Alao Akala, some renovation was done. This is my appeal to the government to make it functional by converting it to a modern station,” Oba Oyinloye said.
In reaching the people who could not make it to the market centres and palaces, Olatubosun also engaged the branches of BCOS in Ogbomoso and Alaga. Throughout the tour, Alaga FM reporter, Oyefeso Olaitan, was available to link the people to the studios of the radio stations. For instance, at the palace of Okere of Saki, Oba Khalid Oyeniyi addressed the people of Oke Ogun on the need to take the measures seriously. Oba Oyeniyi lauded the leadership style of Seyi Makinde.
He said: “I must thank Governor Makinde for his plan to create an isolation centre in Saki town. The centre will not only serve Saki but also other towns and villages in the zone. It will have over 100 beds and will go a long way in helping the people and assisting the health practitioners to work. The governor has been performing excellently well. What we need in this part of the world is adequate enlightenment which will help in curbing the spread of COVID-19. He has not only done that, he has distributed food palliatives to the poorest of the poor.”
Council caretaker chairmen and their committees, state officials, market leaders, groups, among others, also partook in the sensitisation. In Ilua, Sango, Adabo markets and Okere’s palace, the state commissioner for trade, industry, investment and cooperatives, Mr Adeniyi Adebisi, maintained that the governor has been fulfilling all the promises he made during his campaign.
To complement all the efforts of the state government in curbing the pandemic, the council bosses also explained that their contributions will play a huge role in sensitising the people and making palliatives available to them.
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