L-R: Comrade Chinedu Karl Uchegbu, Styvn Obodoekwe and Sebastian Kpalap, briefing newsmen at the official inauguration of COVID-19 SITUATION ROOM in Port Harcourt, Rivers State
From Blessing Ibunge, Port Harcourt
A coalition of Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, in Rivers State, have officially inaugurated COVID-19 Situation Room, a unit set up to monitor the activities surrounding the fights against the scourge of coronavirus in the state and country at large
COVID-19 Situation Room, is an intervention to monitor and report on responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the group, “is a tripartite initiative to synergize CSOs, media and state actors. It seeks to play it’s traditional support roles of closely oversighting and monitoring of the state actions and in this circumstance, the aim is not only to support quick combat of pandemic in our society, but also to help in reducing and mitigating some of the adverse conditions or situations in which citizens may find themselves in the face of the pandemic”.
Spokesperson of the group, Comrade Chinedu Karl Uchegbu, who spoke during a press briefing on Thursday in Port Harcourt, stated that in fulfilling their roles, COVID-19 Situation Room intends to interface with all agencies, corporate Organisations and charitable individuals connected to the fight against the novel coronavirus which he noted has attained a global pandemic level, thereby creating threats to human existence.
He said the Situation Room will be monitoring government policy framework, prouncements, actions and activities.
Also that the room will involved in the “monitoring of compliance with government polices and prouncements. Monitoring of impact of same on health and human rights of the masses. Monitoring of government responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and monitoring of the expenditure of the COVID-19 funds and other appropriations for this purpose”.
The group recalled one of the tragedy recorded during the sudden imposition of restriction of movement in the state, that “five women were drowned at Imo River on Monday, March 30, when the boat they boarded to ferry some food items into the state, sank following alleged shooting by soldiers at the borders. They embarked on water transportation option while trying to escape from border closure by security.
“There is a clear case of dissonance in public communications, as government has issued contradictory statements, thereby confusing the citizenry and encouraging impunity on the part of security agents and other government actors, especially at the local government areas.
“It has become clear that implementation of government polices and prouncements are inflicting more torture on the citizens, worse than the virus.
“There is a growing concern that if nothing is done urgently to review and restrategies on government responses, the impacts of the responses on citizens will be more devastating than the COVID-19 virus itself.”
The group therefore recommends that “there is need for a more robust engagement between the government, health authorities, and the citizenry. Information should be made available on a timely basis to allow citizens make informed judgement.
“There is need for restraint on the part of security agents and government officials in dealing with the citizenry. The exhibition of high handedness and brutalization if citizens being experienced this far are not in tandem with civilised conduct and government responsibility to citizens welfare and the protection of human rights.
“There is need for aggressive sensitization of the citizenry on government policy responses, health and sanitation tips and the roles of citizens in the fight against COVID-19.
“Government should make good on its promise to establish food centres and put in place other palliative to cushion the effects of the restriction order”, the group added.
Members of the CSOs that briefed the newsmen include, Styvn Obodoekwe (Chairman), Vivian Bellonwu (co-Chair), Chinedu Karl Uchegbu (Spokesperson), Sebastian Kpalap (co-Chair), Prince Ekpere (Joint Secretary) and Green Isaac (Joint Secretary).