H.E Gboyega Oyetola, the Executive Governor of Osun State on 31st of March, constituted a high level committee to cushion the effect of the lockdown order by the Government.
The committee consists of former Governors, religious leaders, business moguls, political leaders and captains of industry.
Some of the members include Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Hon Lasun Yusuf, Asiwaju Tunde Badmus, Dr Deji Adeleke, Mrs Folorunsho Alakija, Dr Akin Ogunbiyi, Dr Wale Babalakin, Pastor E.A Adeboye, Pastor Mathew Ashimolowo, among others.
Many political analysts showered encomium on the Governor, calling it a right step in the right direction. Some are of the opinion that the step is unprecedented and shows the intellectual worth of the Governor, selecting some of his political rivals and people that doesn’t agree with him politically.
Geographically and by forecast of some epidemiologist, Osun is not expected to have large number of COVID-19 cases, a respiratory disease that is pathognomonic with the lungs which originated from City of Wuhan, an industrial cluster in China.
Large number of cases were expected in Lagos, Ogun and Abuja been the economic and seat of Government. Lagos and Abuja also play host to the two most trafficked airports in Nigeria.
Unfortunately, Osun on 25th of March recorded its first case of COVID-19, a returnee from United Kingdom who on advice of the state commissioner of Health Dr Rafiu Isamotu, isolated himself in an hotel in Oshogbo. There were also rumor of a female Doctor returned from a foreign trip but allegedly showed up with her daughter in OAU Teaching Hospital in Ile ife with symptoms of COVID 19, this was later confirmed to be false.
The case of Ejigbo-127 change the dynamics of Osun infestation, spiralling the cases in Osun to a whopping 20. The 127 travelers from the city of Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire. Ejigbo in Osun state is the unofficial ‘diplomatic embassy’ of the Côte d’Ivoire, Togo, Ghana and some West African Countries in Nigeria. You can be rest assured of a direct bus to those countries from Ejigbo.
The travellers were coming from Abidjan to Nigeria through Ogun state border, they were flagged down and denied entry since the state Governor, Dapo Abiodun had ordered the closure of all land borders within the State.
However, a phone call between the Governors of Ogun and Osun, resolved the impasse and they travellers were allowed to proceed to their destination with a caveat that they will be quarantined, well fed and tested for COVID-19 before they can be allowed to mix with the larger society.
Some opposition members have alleged that the Ejigbo-127 returnee was a hoax and was staged managed by the Government to make make financial gains. Another twist was a viral WhatsApp message that 6 out of the returnees that was tested were missing from the isolation center. It was later confirmed that only one of the returnees was missing and later found according to a statement released by the Commissioner of Information, Mrs Funke Egbemode.
The unfortunate incident came with backlash from some section of the opposition who alleged that the returnees live in deplorable condition and also not well fed. Some also said the escapee went out in search of food outside the camp. There was also a recorded viral phone conversation where the caller claimed he called one of the released contact but a relative answered the call from Ibadan, lamenting the poor conditions of her sibling in the isolation centre.
Earlier this week, another video was seen trending on the internet purported to be from the Ejigbo isolation center. According to the video it was recorded by one of the index cases who are seen playing around in the isolation ward, saying “Do we look like people that has contracted Corona Disease” saying it in Yoruba language. Although they might be asymptomatic and still in disbelief over their viral status.
Dearth of information from the side of Osun state Government has further worsened the case, unsubstantiated and misleading information permeate the media space without any counter press release from the side of the Government, most times when they do, its rather too late.
Six month in a correctional center awaits anyone caught flouting the lockdown order of the Governor, hence people are restricted to just their home. The larger percentage of people living in Osun state depends solely on their daily income but they have been restricted to their home.
The Governor in his wisdom set up a 21 man relief committee that will raise relief funds to cater for the welfare of the people. The Osun COVID-19 relief funds has seen cash inflows from donors across the country. The General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church, Pastor Enoch Adeboye donated the sum of 20 million naira, United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA) also donated N28.5m.
The State has also received donations from individuals and corporate organization. Many have alleged that the donation were shrouded in secrecy and there’s no transparency from the side of the Government as who donates what.
The state Government responding to pubic outry on Monday announced that 6020 bags of rice will be distributed to the citizen across 3010 polling unit as 2 bags of rice will be distributed per polling unit. How that will go round to a polling unit of up to 2000 registered voters is what am not sure of?
Members of the opposition have also raised alarm on the distribution of the relief package saying the distribution is for the ruling party members alone whereas donations were from citizen across political divides. It is also unclear at this moment if members of the 21-man relief committee are involved in the 2bags of rice per polling unit arrangement as it will be most demeaning and utterly laughable.
The Osun State Government as a matter of transparency, should open her books to the public, inflows of donations should be made public, donors and amount donated should be published from time to time. The CBN and the Federal Government has led by example, publishing all the names of the donors and amount donated.
Our neighboring Oyo State has also imbibed transparency by daily publishing what it had received, it was encouraging to see donations like N500, this has spurn many into donating and supporting the Government in he fight against COVID-19.
Osun is our state, we are proud of our Governor but its a shame to see all the gains he made in the fight against COVID-19 eroded. We all lauded his proactiveness in handling the Ejigbo retuneee issue but we want to see him do more in the area of transparency and accountability.
Governor Oyetola as a financial expert knows that the key to more foreign grants is complete transparency on the current grant. We’re ready to support the government with the little we have. Osun a dara oooo.
Femi Adesola, a social commentator wrote from Ogo Oluwa area of Osogbo