Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong has called on state citizens to be more responsible in adhering to CVID-19 set guidelines as the number of cases and death has become more worrisome with the second wave of the pandemic now eminent.
Lalong stated this at an engagement with plateau stakeholders on the second wave of covid-19 and security issues held at the victoria Gowon hall, new government house, little Rayfield Jos, Today 13th January
In his words, the state Governor said;
I have invited you here again for us to rub minds on very important issues that border on the security and well-being of our people. I want to thank you for honouring this call which again demonstrates your commitment to the progress of Plateau State.
As you may be aware, we are experiencing the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic where there is a resurgence of cases across the nation including here on the Plateau.
As a result of this, we are recording more daily cases in the State than previously. Sadly, we are also recording increasing number of deaths that is very worrisome. In the past weeks, we have seen some prominent persons in Plateau State and indeed across Nigeria die from COVID-19.
Mostly we hear of the big names but do not get to hear of the others involving people that are less prominent. This should give us serious concern because it means that the situation is bigger than what we seem to know.. Later on, I will allow the Commissioner of Health and representatives of the team of medical practitioners at the theater of COVID-19 response in JUTH and other treatment centers to share with us their experiences at the treatment centers and bring us the reality.
The most worrisome point here is that despite this situation, most citizens appear to be careless and reluctant to observe the COVID-19 protocols. In fact, many have abandoned and refused to observe simple protocols of wearing face masks, maintaining social distance and washing hands regularly.
This worries me a lot because this recklessness is further exposing more people to the virus and then increasing the casualty figures. While we have no intention of imposing another lockdown to avoid further damage to the economy, some members of the public are not helping us.
But I hope everyone knows that as a government, we cannot fold our arms to witness people dying over a situation that is largely preventable. I hope we shall see a change of attitude going forward as we resume more vigorous level of enforcement of all the protocols.
For those who are in denial and continue to misinform others that COVID-19 does not exist, I want to warn them to desist. I as the number one citizen of the State was a victim and God helped me to come out of it. I can tell you that it is not a joke and I do not wish even my enemies such an experience.
That is why at the last State EXCO meeting, we decided to criminalize further denial of the disease in the State. In other words, if you deny the existence of the disease, keep your denial to yourself because if you are caught propagating it or instigating others to follow you, you will be arrested and prosecuted no matter how highly placed you might be.
Again, we have to re-strategize and embark on more education and sensitization particularly at the grassroots. The previous approach where we talk to stakeholders and expect them to take the message down seems to be less effective at the moment. Therefore, we are taking the message by directly engaging the people.
I have directed that my Commissioners and other senior government officials go down and engage the people henceforth. We want to break the resistance and ensure that the people own the response. COVID-19 is a personal matter that affects people directly. They need to be involved.
On the issue of vaccine, Lalong said:
I have already heard some people peddling conspiracy theories. I want to say that I will be the first to take the vaccine whenever it is available in Plateau State. Let us be careful of promoting unsubstantiated rumors.
14. By the way, we are still hopeful that the drugs being developed by the Plateau State Medical Research Team which are currently undergoing clinical examination will pass the necessary approvals. This will also give us another option for prevention and treatment. At least, this is our own initiative and there is no conspiracy theory attached.
On the issue of security in Plateau state, Governor Lalong went on to express his concerns stating that;
The next issue I want to address is the issue of security which as you know remains the first priority of our administration. We have continued to pay attention to the security of lives and property by adopting various measures to foster peaceful coexistence and also deal with crime and criminality.
I am aware of the incidences of kidnapping, cultism and other violent crimes in some parts of Plateau State. The Government is working hard with the security agencies and stakeholders to ensure that the ugly incidences are tackled.
Last month, I signed the Anti-kidnapping, Land grabbing, Cultism and Violence-related matters bill passed by the State House of Assembly into law. By that law, anyone convicted of kidnapping in Plateau State will be sentenced to death while cultism and other violent crimes attract various terms of imprisonment.
Also in December last year, we inaugurated 595 Community Police constables who were trained and deployed to the 17 Local Government Areas to assist law enforcement agencies, particularly the police in intelligence gathering and other security operations. Now that it has taken off, I expect to hear from you how best we can domesticate and own the initiative at the grassroots.
Because security is a collective responsibility, I charge you to assist the Government to sensitize and mobilize all citizens to always be security conscious and take measures to protect their vicinity against criminals. Apart from exposing them, they should also embrace techniques to provide the first line of alarm and defence before security agencies respond.
I have repeatedly said that I do not want to hear of any incidence of “unknown gunmen” terrorizing our people. We have to collaborate with the security agencies to ensure that we achieve this. They cannot do it alone. Now that we have community policing constables, we expect better security as we all support them to work.
You may be aware of the recent alert by the Department of State Services of a threat to cause inter-religious violence by some criminal elements. We have to take this alert seriously and ensure that we report any suspicious activity to the security agencies. I also advise our people not to succumb to the divisive antics of such elements who exploit the fault lines of religion, ethnicity, politics and other sectional interests to create chaos.