From Pwanagba Agabus, Jos
Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State on Wednesday warned those misinforming residents about the existence of COVID-19 to desist or face the full wrath of the law.
The Governor also said as a victim of COVID-19, but God helped him to come out of it; “I can tell you that it is not a joke and I do not wish even my enemies such experience”.
He added that once the vaccine is made available in the state, he will be the first to take it; “Let us be careful of promoting unsubstantiated rumours about the vaccine”.
Lalong disclosed this during an engagement with Plateau stakeholders on second wave of COVID-19 and security issues, held at the Victoria Gowon hall, new Government House, Little Rayfield Jos.
He said, “As you may be aware, we are experiencing the second wave of the corona virus pandemic where there is a resurgence of cases across the nation including here on the Plateau.
“As a result of this, we are recording more daily cases in the State than previously. Sadly, we are also recording increasing number of deaths that is very worrisome. In the past weeks, we have seen some prominent persons in Plateau State and indeed across Nigeria die from COVID-19”, he decried.
“Mostly we hear of the big names but do not get to hear of the others involving people that are less prominent. This should give us serious concern because it means that the situation is bigger than what we seem to know.
According him, “The most worrisome point here is that despite this situation, most citizens appear to be careless and reluctant to observe the COVID-19 protocols. In fact, many have abandoned and refused to observe simple protocols of wearing face masks, maintaining social distance and washing hands regularly.
“This worries me a lot because this recklessness is further exposing more people to the virus and then increasing the casualty figures.
“While we have no intention of imposing another lockdown to avoid further damage to the economy, some members of the public are not helping us.
The Governor however said, as a government, it will not fold it arms to witness people dying over a situation that is preventable.
“I hope we shall see a change of attitude going forward as we resume more vigorous level of enforcement of all the protocols”, he maintained.
“For those who are in denial and continue to misinform others that COVID-19 does not exist, I want to warn them to desist.
It would be recalled that not long ago, the State Executive Council criminalize denial of COVID-19 in the state.
Lalong warned that, “In other words, if you deny the existence of the disease, keep your denial to yourself because if you are caught propagating it or instigating others to follow you, you will be arrested and prosecuted no matter how highly placed you might be.
The Governor further said as stakeholders in the state, they have to re-strategize and embark on more education and sensitization particularly at the grassroots.
“I have directed that my Commissioners and other senior government officials go down and engage the people henceforth. We want to break the resistance and ensure that the people own the response. COVID-19 is a personal matter that affects people directly. They need to be involved”, he stressed.
Speaking on the issue of the vaccine, the Governor said, “I have already heard some people peddling conspiracy theories. I want to say that I will be the first to take the vaccine whenever it is available in Plateau State. Let us be careful of promoting unsubstantiated rumours.
“By the way, we are still hopeful that the drugs being developed by the Plateau State Medical Research Team which are currently undergoing clinical examination will pass the necessary approvals.
“This will also give us another option for prevention and treatment. At least, this is our own initiative and there is no conspiracy theory attached”, he stressed.