Rivers State Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has urged traditional rulers and opinion leaders of Bonny Kingdom to ensure that their people understand that COVID-19 is real.
They are also to cooperate with the state government to ensure that all COVID-19 protocols are obeyed to contain the spread of the pandemic in the area.
Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Paulinus Nsirim, disclosed in a statement that addressing the king and traditional rulers of Grand Bonny at Government House Port Harcourt, on Tuesday, June 16, 2020, Governor Wike said he would not want the area to be the epicentre of the disease in the State.
“Bonny is strategic to the national economy and we have to work together to ensure that the disease does not cripple the economy.
“We have to make our people to stop living in denial about the existence of COVID-19 because such attitude will not allow them to take the necessary precautions.
“The results of samples collected from Bonny indicate that it could be an epicentre of the pandemic in the state if a drastic action is not taken.
“It is not something our people should pretend that it does not exist. Something that has taken the world by storm and killing more than conventional warfare should be taken seriously.
“When this pandemic started in the State, I raised the alarm that 60 percent of the cases were from rig workers and had to impose lockdown of Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas.
“So many were not happy. What will be my joy to close down businesses if not to save life. I have the responsibility to make sure that the people that have given me their mandate are alive. Will I be governor of the dead? Some of us do not appreciate that we have to make sacrifices if that is going to save our people”, he said.
Governor Wike said the State Security Council would meet on June 17, 2020 to review the situation in Bonny to consider a possible lockdown, even as he stressed that the rising cases of the pandemic in the State should give every right thinking person serious concern.
He also announced that the State would soon publish guidelines that would guide the conduct of marriages during this period.
Rivers State Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike (R) and Amayanabo of Grand Bonny, king Edward Asimini William Dappa Pepple (L) during the meeting with leaders of Bonny Kingdom at Government House Port Harcourt, on Tuesday, June 16, 2020
Amayanabo of Grand Bonny, King Edward Asimini William Dappa Pepple noted that despite efforts made to enlighten the people, most of them still live in denial.
While pledging the support of the kingdom to the state government in addressing the health crisis, King Pepple appealed that medical relief and palliatives should be provided to ease the hardship the people might experience during lockdown.
Vice chairman of Bonny Council of Chiefs, SeAlabo Haniel Jack-Wilson- Pepple commended Governor Wike for putting the lives of the people first in the fight against COVID-19 and for approving a 30-Bed Treatment Centre for Bonny.