Cross River State governor, Prof Ben Ayade, has given out 50 brand new vehicles to relevant authorities in the effort to effectively monitor the compliance of the directives the state government had earlier issued to forestall the spread of Coronavirus and the attendant Covid-19 pandemic in the state.
This is coming in the wake of the distribution of face/nose masks to residents in the state to effectively commence the ‘no mask, no movement” directive in the state.
Speaking at the handing over ceremony, Governor Ayade said: “Earlier today (Tuesday 7th April), I gave out 50 vehicles for COVID-19 response. As government, we must protect lives and livelihoods.
“This explains the continuing commercial and business activities in the state.
“Since the state was coronavirus free, we decided to shut our borders with neighboring states and Cameroon Republic, while allowing economic activities to go on within the state.
“Protecting lives without protecting livelihoods of Nigerians will spell doom for the nation after COVID-19 as hunger will be the next deadly virus.
“We are determined to protect the lives and livelihoods of Cross Riverians in the face of COVID-19 which was why, internal businesses are still thriving in the state while locking down every entry points into the state with citizens compelled to wear nose masks in public.
“The masks, which are produced at the state garment factory, is distributed for free to residents of the state to enhance compliance with the no mask no movement order issued by government.
“Globally, hunger and hunger related diseases like kwashiokor and tuberculosis kill about 8.4million people every year and so there is more pandemic when it comes to hunger.
“I want to thank the good people of Cross River State for complying with the directive to wear masks. With your support the state will remain COVID-19 free.
“All around us are countries and states with already confirmed cases of COVID 19, Cross River is just at the middle, so we will do all we can to curtail the pandemic from spreading to our state and protect you too but protection of life without the protection of livelihoods is a complete imbalance.
“There must be a holy matrimony between protection of lives and protection of livelihoods. Some of our brothers and sisters depend on daily work .If you carry blocks for a living, the day you are stopped from going to work there will be no money to feed the children.
“Therefore, I do not believe in shutting down my state, I shut down the borders to protect my state and allow businesses to thrive.
“As a Professor of science, I know that once you wear face and nose masks you are already protected, you don’t need Social Distancing when you are properly protected
“COVID-19 will not stop our administration from focusing on our Agro-industrialization drive. The state owned ultra modern Rice seeds and seedling factory has not relented in producing rice seedlings at this time.
“For us as a state we are preparing ourselves for the post-Coronavirus era when the planting season is just coming with the onset of the rains. We have prepared ourselves to be the biggest rice producers in the country with the Ogoja rice Mill which is the most professional and the first vitaminized rice Mill in Africa, and is currently undergoing a dry test and by May we should be ready to start .
“We are giving out nose masks for free, we are also deploying the world bank poverty register for Cross River State which was developed in partnership with Cross River State under our YESSO program to identify those who are so poor that they cannot afford to stay two weeks at home without support.
“Those are the people that we are going to be delivering food items to their door steps and we are doing so in a systematic manner in the sense that the families are already known to us. Their addresses and phone numbers are all with us so contacting them will be easy,” the Governor said.
It will be recalled that the Cross Rivers State government had began the distribution of face and nose masks produced at the state-owned Garment Factory to residents of Calabar.
The governor had earlier issued an executive order that nobody will be allowed in public in the state without a nose mask and in furtherance of that order, had promised to give out free nose masks to residents of the state.
Speaking with journalists shortly after distributing the masks to some persons himself, he had said he would do everything humanly and materially possible to ensure that everyone living in the state is safe from COVID-19.
His words: “Section 14 sub section II of our constitution says the primary purpose of government is the welfare and security of the citizens and as governor my primary responsibility is to protect the citizens either from physical or social harm and we have a case which is both.
“I cannot at this difficult moment when you are asking people to stay at home and you also task them to put on a mask at a cost but we as a government had to find a way to reduce the burden on the people.
“We are providing food to the vulnerable and less privileged. We would not distribute the food through politicians but we shall be using the World Bank register developed during our YESSO program to make sure food gets to all the vulnerable people in the state.
“Food will be delivered to the door step of the people because we do not want to cause a crowd.
“We have began the distribution of face and nose masks to our people because from 12am Friday: no mask, no movement. Nobody will move around the streets without a nose mask,” Gov Ayade had said.
Speaking further, he vowed to personally monitor the enforcement of government’s order that all exit and entry routes into the state be shut to both human and vehicular traffic.
He disclosed that his decision was informed by reports that the order was not being totally enforced by security agents.