As part of a proactive measure against the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic, Cross River State governor, Ben Ayade, on Tuesday, approved the release of N500 million for the state’s newly inaugurated COVID-19 Response Team.
The team which was inaugurated on Tuesday, by Ayade at the open field of the Governor’s Office, Calabar, was also given 20 vehicles to support its operations.
The mandate of the Response Team, according to the governor is to safeguard the state against the global scourge.
Ayade used the opportunity to appeal to the federal government to give special treatment to the state as a result of its strategic border location.
“Cross River is an international border state, and with the incident in Cameroon, I call on President Muhammadu Buhari, I call on the Minister of Health to treat Cross River in a very peculiar way. We need the obvious and express attention of the federal government”
He also charged the team headed by the Commissioner for Health, Dr.Betta Edu to work assiduously hard to ensure that all preventive measures against the spread were adhered to.
The governor said it was the desire of his administration to ensure Cross River remained COVID 19-free.
While charging the task force, Ayade said: “You are all aware that there is no unanimity about the history of this global pandemic but Cross River, as a state governed by two Professors, we must find ways and provide a leading direction at the sub-national level.
“It is, therefore, our desire to ensure that Cross River continues to maintain zero incidences as far as this pandemic is concerned.”
Spelling out the mandate of the taskforce, Ayade said: “To achieve this, we are hereby setting up this Taskforce whose core mandate is to guarantee the full implementation of the lockdown of our borders to ensure that medicines, food supplies and welfare packages are made available to our people.
“We are sensitive to the challenges of locking down a state where people have barely earned their last salary, therefore, the social sensitivity of our lockdown must reflect in the subsequent actions we take. Against this background, I’m setting up this task force with subcommittees. As I said before, this taskforce is to realise a COVID 19- free Cross River.”
Governor Ayade lamented the effect of partial lockdown on the people of the state but assured of palliative measures to cushion the effects.
“Let me inform you also that we have recalled workers at the garment factory for the mass production of face and nose masks to protect our citizens.
“The closure of our borders no doubt has come with adverse consequences for our people. I have a moral obligation to give our people protection. With a heavy sense of burden, with spiritual consciousness that I have a responsibility to those who in search of their daily living has been affected by this border closure. It is against this background, therefore, that I’m asking the Chairman of this task force to expedite action in ensuring that in all of those border points, proper screenings must take place so that all those who are free must get all the necessary medical supplies- sanitizers, nose masks etc.
“We are going to release the sum of N500m in the first instance. I will like to announce also that we have received the sum of N28M from UBA, we are also going to get support from Zenith Bank and First Bank. We hope that other corporate organisations will at this time come to our rescue.”
According to the governor, “As a state whose last allocation was little above N1b, Cross River cannot afford to have even a single COVID 19 incident, so prevention indeed is better than cure. And to achieve this, public fumigation of public centres becomes imperative.
“You are also to ensure that citizens have access to food, access to livelihood because after the Coronavirus comes humanity. And so we must be careful so that we don’t create social vices- increased in criminality because of lack of food. That is why the Food Bank Director-General must recognize that food supplies to the various local governments are essential.”
Ayade further mandated all his commissioners to ensure that food supplies from the Cross River Food Bank get to their local governments.
“I use this opportunity to announce that all commissioners are the Food Coordinating officers, supplies coordinating officers for their various local government areas.
“For me, the absolute shutdown of Cross River at this time will be unwarranted but nobody will be allowed to walk on the streets of Cross River from next week without face and nose masks. The Garment Factory is mass producing the masks.
“I urge you to serve your motherland with dignity, dedication and commitment and ensure that the livelihood of the people remains intact. Go out there and be the good Ambassador of this government.”