Earlier today, 27th April 2020 at Warri Delta State, Coalition of CSOs in the state launched a situation room for the monitoring of Covid 19 through a Press Briefing at the office of social Action.
Comrade Ibebe Rufus Akpobome as Co-chairman of the coalition read the press release on behalf of the coalition before journalist and was franked by other members of the coalition which included; Bonny Akaeze asco-chairr, Joshua Gherej,e and Emmanuel Agubi as joint secretaries and Victor Ochie who is the spoke person of the alliance that was convened by Social Action.
According to the press release, the objectives of the Situation Room includes; monitoring of government policies and responses to the COVID-19 pandemic
Monitoring of impacts of the same on health and human rights of residents of Delta State, monitoring of compliance with government policies and pronouncements as well as control of the expenditure of the COVID-19 funds and other appropriation for this purpose.
The Delta State Civil Society/Media COVID-19 Situation Room called for collaboration from the following agencies:
Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Delta State Taskforce on COVID-19, Delta State Ministry of Health, National Orientation Agency,
Nigerian Red Cross,
National Human Rights Commission,
Nigeria Police Force,
Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps,
Corporate organizations and charitable individuals.
Part of the press release read as follows;
The situation room at this moment recommends the following as to what to do moving forward.
- There is a need to step up aggressively, the sensitization of the citizenry on government policy responses, personal hygiene, and sanitation tips, as well as, roles of citizens in the fight against COVID-19, especially in the rural areas.
As Government maintains its established food bank as well as the distribution of food items to the people of the State, there is an urgent need to ensure that the items being distributed get to the vulnerable citizens without any form of discrimination.
In the light of several reported cases of brutality and intimidation of citizens by security agents, and following the concern raised by the World Health Organization (WHO) that the Covid-19 pandemic could end up a Human Rights crisis. There is the need for the Government to monitor closely, the activities of the security officers assigned to enforce the lockdown order to curb the excesses of the officers
. Feedbacks from the citizens reflect a public opinion that transparency in the management of the fight against Covid-19 is still very low and requires improvement to make the battle inclusive with the necessary support and cooperation of the citizens. This will no doubt help us to win this fight against the deadly coronavirus.
Reported cases of human rights violation, especially the shooting of peaceful protesters in Sapele and the killing of Mr. Joseph Pessu in Warri, should be seriously investigated, and perpetrators brought to book.
All public places like Motor Parks, Markets, Shopping Malls, Super Markets as well as other areas of mass gatherings like places of Religious Worship, Night Clubs & Hotels, Bars & Restaurants, Events Centres, Schools, factories, etc. that are currently on shutdown should be disinfected to ensure that they are microbes free before their reopening.
The ban on movement of persons in and out of our closed state borders should be sustained, more stringently enforced, and compromising and erring officers should be sanctioned.
Efforts should be made to establish more Isolation/Holding Centers and, at least, a Testing Centre in Delta State.
The State Government should hasten up and ensure that its promise to distribute nose masks to the citizens is implemented without further delay.
Citizens, on their part, should remain patient and endeavor to adhere to all directives aimed at eliminating the scourge of COVID-19.
The coalition stated that they have been following the activities of the state keenly as regards the Covid-19 pandemic and below are it’s observations;
- In Delta State, it has been observed that citizens do not seem to understand the dangers of this Coronavirus. Social distancing is still not practiced in markets and other public and mass gatherings.
The Situation Room has received reports alleging the arrest of persons by the State Government for the mere reason of expressing contrary opinions to government policies and actions with regards to handling the current pandemic.
Delta State, as at this moment, does not have a Testing Centre. It’s expected that by now, the State should have a Testing Centre in place while awaiting they one the Federal Government has promised to set up in each State of the federation.
As we commend the State Government for the Isolation Centres put in place in Asaba, Oghara, and Warri. It is our considered opinion that those Centres are inadequate. This is because the State ought to prepare for the worst so as not to be overwhelmed should there be an upsurge in the spread of the virus in the State.
- The State food bank is a welcomed development and should be maintained.
- While we commend the palliative measures put in place by the Government, we wish to recommend that efforts should be made towards the effective and efficient distribution of these food items to the vulnerable in our society. We also think that there is still a need for the State to perhaps be more aggressive in soliciting the support of organizations and well-meaning individuals as a way to increase the volume of the palliative items it can distribute. Most importantly, the Government should find a more realistic formula to ensure that the items being made available gets to the targeted vulnerable persons. This is because trending public opinion on the palliatives distributed so far in the State is that not only were the items distributed inadequate, the distribution was perceived to have been done with political discrimination and other sentiments that diverted the palliatives away from the targeted groups.
- There are also reports that the palliatives meant for the very poor (older adult) in our society are being shared in some parts of Delta State to only indigenes, leaving out the non-indigenes.
In his last broadcast to the people of the State, the State Governor announced that the State would distribute nose masks to her citizens. This was welcomed as a laudable initiative, but the implementation is seen as unduly being delayed,d considering the importance of the item in contending the spread of the deadly virus.
It has also become evident that some of the measures adopted by the Government to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic are inflicting survival challenges on the Citizens with the potentials of engendering criminality and associated vices. We, therefore, wish to recommend a review of those measures to deal with the noticed potential consequences of the actions.
The standard for dealing with any case of Covid-19 when reported in any part of the state should be immediate isolation of the infected person, as well as contact tracing in residence, immediate community, and other places the infected person may have visited within the last two weeks. All traced contacts should be tested without undue delay. The front-line health workers at the designated hospitals for the management of patients with Covid-19 symptoms should be correctly oriented, trained on how to handle the patients, and they should be well kited with the right medical PPE as well as be provided with the appropriate insurance cover. This measure will no doubt forestall the kind of shabby treatment alleged to have been mated on the recent patient of Covid-19 at the General Hospital, Warri.
The group ended the briefing by assuring Deltans that Covid-19 would be defeated, and Normalcy would return when it said, “We would overcome the virus pandemic and our lives and society will return.”