March 28, 2020
Gov. Samuel Ortom,
The Executive Governor,
Benue Peoples House,
Our Dear Governor,
“It Is Time To Ignore Distractive Noise And Enforce The 3-Way Strategy In Benue With Every Precision As Covid-19 Roars:”
1. Your Excellency Sir, may I convey my greetings to your good office and to all brothers and sisters in my home state of Benue. I wish to say, the Almighty God is our refuge and comforter in this most difficult time of our lives as the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic hits us and sails through the rest of an innocent world.
2. However, I have no scintilla of doubt in my mind about your competence to stand firm and in stout defence of Benue and her peoples whenever the circumstances demand as Covid-19 has deposited on our hands today. It has the scary reality of terminating us and our posterity, if we fail to act proactively and immediately.
3. Sir, in truth, we are in a pandemic quagmire. Covid-19 is sweeping lives in the world and has frightened even the most developed of nations and super powers of the world, such as China, (where it started), Italy, Spain, etc. They are dead scared of it. It is evident in the massive incidents of its insidiously expanding infections every day and the ensuing deaths around the globe.
4. Like we all know, Covid-19 has made an unauthorized voyage into Africa and Nigeria. The most populous black country in Africa and the world is also hit by this global pandemic. In fact, some foreign analysts have rated it as the worst human plague in the last century.
5. Covid-19 has neither cure nor a definite pattern of groups or persons it infects and puts on the death roll. We are all into it and first, beseeching the Almighty God for His mercies and pray for energy of human efforts in curbing the widespread tendency of the deadly disease.
6. Your Excellency, our lives and future in Nigeria is threatened by Covid-19. Benue state is not an exception. However, some of us, like many others, live and work outside our home state of Benue where Covid-19 is already ravaging the populace, such as Lagos, Abuja, London, Dubai etc, in appalling numbers.
7. Sir, I wish to say, Benue state is lucky under your leadership in times of this mass calamity and we vouch for your ever readiness to rise to the occasion. May I emphasize the point that this is the time Benue and the people need you the most to offer the direction of salvation of our people and state.
8. And at the risk of flattery, let me say, I trust you on this score because the issue and urgency it demands is devoid of partisan politics or political, religious or ethnic affiliations. First, we must be alive and healthy to play politics or even our most cherished divisive cards.
9. At this point, Your Excellency, let me specially commend you; your team of State Medical experts on Covid-19; the state information machinery, the Federal Medical Centre under the leadership of Dr. Peteru Inundu and of course, some NGOs. All of you have impressed me by rising to the occasion to dutifully enlighten our people in both urban and rural communities about this fresh disease consuming us in astounding numbers in Nigeria.
10. Your Excellency Sir, everywhere and in every part of the world, Governments at all levels have the biggest chest of bulwark in defence of the masses in critical times like this. Therefore, I take special cognizance of your modest and reassuring efforts to safeguard the people of Benue from the menace of Covid- 19.
11. These efforts have reflected in the millions of naira your Government has released in getting the state set for battling the pandemic. Other efforts such as establishing Covid-19 Test centers in the state; upgrading facilities and equipping the BSUTH to expeditiously handle advance cases of detected Covid-19 patients and so forth are extremely appreciated, not only by me, but by the generality of our people in Benue and abroad.
12. May the Almighty God give you the strength to soldier on, until we are able to collectively defeat Covid-19. Your Excellency Sir, I was motivated to write this open epistle to you today because of my conviction that both the Benue State Government (BNSG) and all of us have a synergic obligation to ourselves to fight and defeat Covid-19 in Benue state. I am doing my small bit in Agila, Ado LGA my countryside home and supporting other Nigerians through the special grace and wisdom of the Almighty God that rest and abide with me.
13. And added to it, I was prompted by the information reaching me today in Abuja that a certain lady, (name withheld) who fell sick or exhibited the symptoms of Covid-19, is on admission at a private Hospital, in Makurdi, and tested positive to Covid-19. The implication is that Covid-19 may have sneaked into our homes and villages in Benue state.
14. I humbly request your Government, through this open letter to step up surveillance actions for those vulnerable to Covid-19 infections to be tested and quarantined, where necessary. And those yet to be infected by Coronavirus in the state, other immediate preventive measures should be adopted.
15. Sir, I humbly request your Government not only to adopt, but strictly enforce the 3- Way Strategy on Covid-19. These are: Self Isolation, Social- Distancing and Good Hygienic Habits by citizens. I want to believe this is not the best time to trust in God, alone. But it is time for us to do the right thing and it is neither time for politics nor religion. Please, ignore those playing politics with Covid-19 and do the needful.
16. Your Excellency, you have ordered closure of churches, mosques, and traditional places of worship. You have banned weddings, burial ceremonies and other public gatherings, which attract multitudes. These are good proactive steps to protect our people.
17. But I believe, the states which are lucky not to have experienced any case or minimal cases should do more than states under Covid-19 plague. That from the grapevine, Benue has a reported case today imposes on all of us a duty to rise up in unison to face Coronavirus. It is the ripe time for the BNSG to close all borders or entry points, leading into Benue state. This is an effective measure and will work wonders too.
18. Easter is a sensitive time of visitations and everybody, including the VIPs, such as National Assembly members, Ministers, top federal appointees, businessmen and women moguls, traditional and religious rulers, academics and other personalities who are sojourning into Benue from other states must run the Covid-19 test at the borders before permitted entry into the state or be stopped completely.
19. No one should be trusted now. And this is the time to show leadership by example and Benue is expecting nothing less from your leadership. And let me remind my fraternity in Benue state that this is not the time to criticize the Ortom’s administration or to even appraise his efforts in governance. We must fight this battle and be alive before governance could make any impacts to us or communities.
20. I want to state categorically to you and everybody in Benue state and other philanthropists that we must rise up for humanity now. The world is being faced with a World War III in disguise through Covid-19. And this time, there is no traditional ally of any kind. We are all at risk and can fall for the enemies if the right steps are ignored now.
21. Sir, it is time for us to trust in God with our senses as many of the “Daddy GOs” whom we have visited to pray for us many times without any solution have all purchased their masks, sanitizers and keeping long distances from people, family members inclusive.
22. And scared-stiff, they have also closed their “workshops” for now. They have different predictions about how God is ending the scourge of Covid-19 in Nigeria. But none is realistic now, as time passes. So, I believe in the Biblical dictum that “to your tents, o Israel.”
23. Lastly, Your Excellency, may I seize this opportunity to thank you for the generous donation, the BNSG government gave to me during my book launch and celebration of the last anniversary of TheNigerian News. I am not insensitive to measure it here in black and white. But I must say, your support like many other members of the public have continued to feather the nest of my humanitarian works by giving ceaselessly to the poor and needy in the society. Parts of this donation will be going to efforts to stop the spread of Coronavirus in Nigeria. I thank you sir.
24. I thank you for the time and energy devoted to reading my letter. Benue is trusting the Almighty God and with your leadership, we can together overcome the pestilence of Covid-19 in Benue and Nigeria.
The 3- Way Strategy remain the only cure for now!
Thank you Sir.
Chief Philip Agbese,
Okanga of Agilaland.