Extending Borno’s lockdown painful, but necessary
By Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum
My dear Compatriots
The last four weeks has been a period of great trial for us in the state. We lost some of our great elders statesmen and leaders, scholars and illustrious sons.
We lost his eminence the Shehu of Bama, Shehu Kyari, His Excellency, the former Governor of Borno, Alhaji Mohammed Goni, Galadima Modu Sheriff, Hon. Wakil Bukar Lawan, Goni Modu Kolo, Goni Habib amongst few others. We received condolence visit and messages from far and near and express our appreciation to all for the concern and solidarity in this our trying period. May Allah in his infinite mercy forgive all their shortcomings and give the families the fortitude to bear the irreparable lost.
Felow Compatriots, indeed, it has not been easy to find ourselves lockdown in our homes under strenuous weather conditions and for most of us observing the fast of Ramadan. Moreover, the bulk of our population are either peasant farmers, petty traders or menial workers that most go out on daily basis to enable them spend for themselves and families. Thus, life will be unbearable for most of our people under a total lockdown condition.
It would have been better for a complete relaxation of the lockdown measures, if we had an effective vaccine or if the infection rate is declining by the day. The available statistics shows an increase in corona virus cases on daily basis and cause mainly by community transmission. For now, social distancing and lockdown are the only veritable options to limit community transmission in the absence of any effective vaccine to fight the pandemic. The pandemic is real and we must face it.
As we all know, the total lockdown strategy is unrealistic and not feasible for us in the state but a measure of the strategy will be adopted as precautionary method to safeguard our lives in the face of ravaging corona virus pandemic. I have extended the lockdown measure by a week but directed tomorrow Thursday 7th and Friday 8th as well as Monday 11th May 2020 to open up for a period between 8am to 5pm to enable petty business and markets to flourish so that families access essential food items. We will review the situation next week Wednesday, 13th May, 2020 and the COVID-19 Committee will announce the fundamental strategies to be observed and regulations to be followed in the fight against the pandemic, within the relaxation period.
However, Government will not hesitate to renew lockdown orders if the people are not willing to adhere to guidelines.
However, to avert the danger of the spread through community transmission, we should strictly carry out all the hygienic practices such as washing of hands, use of face masks and hand sanitizers as well as social distancing. I have further directed the state COVID-19 committee to strictly enforce the ban on inter state travel and night journeys to stem the spread of the disease.
Government is not unmindfull of the hardship resulting from the lockdown of businesses and workplaces. We are aware of the flight of our compatriots at the IDP camps, the widows, the vulnerables and the very poor in their places of abode. The situation is not easy even with the average and well-to-do in the society. It is a war situation requiring supreme sacrifice and endurance as well as solidarity to survive the onslaught of an invisible enemy. In Borno, we have shown the much expected resilience and perseverance just as we did at the height of the insurgency when we completely suspended all our socio-economic activity to remain safe at home.
We have put in place a machinery for the distribution of food items as part of the palliative measures to cushion the effect of the lockdown policy. The committee has started work in ernest and implore on them to not be non-partisan in the assignment given to them. In this task, Government has recieved support from the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Northeast Development Commission, and other well spirited organisations like Dangote Foundation. We will continue to work with all stakeholders in bringing succour to the lives of our people while we handle the threats of the infectious disease.
Meanwhile, Government is aware of some of the institutional challenges of the COVID-19 response team and the difficult circumstances under which they operate. We must salute all our medical and health workers for the sacrifices and bravery with which they discharge their duties in saving the lives of others. I specially commend the management of the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital and the State COVID-19 committee for their good work. All their shortcomings as alleged by the populace will be addressed.
Government will strengthen the isolation centre to meet up challenge.
We will ensure adequate supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and procurement of mobile testing equipment and other logistics requirement for prompt response. We will establish a better synergy between the COVID-19 Response Team and the General public to avert negative consequences of wrong information or misinformation.
Fellow compatriots, our society after the COVID-19 pandemic will be very different given the devastating impact on the economy and socio-cultural development.
The need for the diversification of the economy to ensure heavy reliance on agriculture will be paramount for us. We must look inwards to strengthen our economic base and empower our people to be self-reliance in food production. We have discussed extensively at the Northern Governors’ Forum (NGF) for the need to revitalized the agriculture and transform the entire Northern society through the development of the human resources capacity. We will take a hard look at the Almajiri system for better human capacity building and development. The rich intellectual endowment of the young Almajiris must be developed and harnessed for overall wellbeing of the society.
As a first necessary step, i have directed the COVID-19 taskforce to profile all the Tsangaya schools in the state with a view to creating a database.
I will encourage a dialogue amongst my colleague Governors to create educational opportunities that are sustainable and modern for the Almajiris in the north. We take all measures to protect their human rights and dignity while we take steps to reposition them we in society.
These actions and measures are essential if we were to take necessary precautions against the spread of the disease in our dear state. I call on all our religious and community leaders to join in the prayers so that we see an end to this pandemic. We should always remember to adhere to the hygienic advices given for our safety and that of the others.
Thank you and God Bless.
Governor Zulum addressed the people of Borno state in a statewide broadcast on Wednesday, May 6, 2020 in Maiduguri.