By Akindoyin Aanuoluwapo
It is no gainsaying that Ebonyi State was among the first few states to close its borders in a bid to fight covid-19 and it is not a rumour that it was hard for people accepting the borders closure.
Some people who didn’t get the memo in time were however stranded at the borders, even those on essential duties were thoroughly screened before entering the state.
It was a very long queue at the borders, especially Enugu/Abakaliki border, in a bid to beat the security at the borders, people began to sneak into the state through nearby bushes, some sneaked in by alighting at the borders to take motorcycle (okada) into the state.
Some of those that sneaked into the State through bushes, however encountered with bandits who dispossesed them of their precious belongings, leaving them with nothing by the time they entered the State, can we say that they reaped the fruit of disobedience?
The journey into Ebonyi State through the bushes was quickly nipped in the bud as the rumours filtered into your ear, our Dear Governor and you dispatched securities into the bushes to apprehend those illegal entrants and the bandits. The security men swiftly commenced operation and a lot of them were apprehended alongside the bandits who robbed them with matchet.
Since then, we have had several cases of illegal entrants into the state and this has made so many people to fake carrying essential commodities, while some sneaked in with the so called essential commodities. We saw in some other States where people and their goods were hidden behind goats that were being transported into the state and other rumoured cases of people being smuggled with cows and other essential commodities, who knows how many have been able to sneak past our securities at night or even during the day?
Some of our securities were hell bent in bringing doom into our state and it is in view of this that you’ve been able to fish out some of these security men who had taken bribe to allow passage of some vehicles into the state.
Our Dear Governor, Engr David Umahi, it was due to the laxity of some of our securities who were assigned to protect us from illegal entrants that made you to suspend some government officials, replaced some securities at the borders and you kept on working round the clock to ensure that our State is free from the deadly Coronavirus which has dealt a big blow on the whole world and still ravaging the world.
You were proactive in preparing the State for any eventuality, even though we had no case then, you’ve prepared isolation centres should we have any case and this helped the state when we finally recorded positive cases in the state with returnees.
Thank you for preparing our state ahead of that time when we had the index case and even now that the cases have increased to 40.
First of all, I want to appreciate your good work in the state by transforming the State from where it was to what it is now, the divine transformation and facelift that you gave the state have made Ebonyi State to stand out in Nigeria, it has brought our dear Ebonyi State to a limelight. A State where others now wish to visit, a State that initially has been on the Nigeria map but wasn’t noticed has now been brought to limelight by the wonderful work you’ve done in these past 5 years.
Also I want to appreciate all your efforts to keep Ebonyi State free from Coronavirus by being proactive and taking necessary precautions at the right time, this has made our state to be free of the virus before some returnees came in with it, but thanks to your covid-19 task force members who apprehended them before they could reached their various destinations, thereby minimizing contacts in the State, thank you for all your efforts, God will continually crown your efforts in Jesus Name.
I also want to thank the 13 Local Government Chairmen who in line with your dreams have been working tirelessly to keep the State free of this deadly virus. It was through their combined efforts that most of these returnees who carry the virus were apprehended before they were able to get to their destinations which would have been catastrophic, if they were not apprehended on transit.
It is important to thank those security men who have been doing their jobs without collecting bribes from anyone, the covid-19 task force members who have working day and night to ensure that the state is free of Coronavirus. Thank you all.
Even though, the borders are closed, bikes have been banned 300 meters radius around the borders and the covid-19 task force including the governor is working round the clock, as loopholes are being blocked, others are being created and every single day, we keep having illegal entrants into the State due to the border closure.
The Ebonyi Local Government Chairman asked people to report any returnees to her should they see any so that these people can be tested to know their covid-19 status, but I doubt if anyone had reported any case to her, they might be afraid after all, or they didn’t want to report their family members to avoid severing family ties, who knows?
Our Dear Governor, I’ll implore you to open the borders so as to stop illegal entrants into the State. The opening of borders will put a control at the illegal entry into the State and you’ll be able to screen anyone who enters the State.
It is pertinent to note that those illegal entrants who might be carriers are not screened before entering the state, many of them have found illegal routes devoid of securities to find their way into the State. Some of these people travel at night to evade security checks, arrest or debarment.
Sir, when you open the borders fully, you can stop the illegal entrants, everyone who is about to enter will be screened, especially those coming from the States where covid-19 ravages more, those people can be quarantined for 2 weeks before they can be released to go home should they test negative.
You’ve issued an order that they should stay wherever they are since the covid-19 cases we have in Ebonyi State is brought in by returnees from Lagos, Ondo and other states that they journeyed from, but whosoever that decides to come into the state must be ready to be quarantined or self isolate depending if they are symptomatic or asymptomatic returnees.
Symptomatic returnees should be quarantined for 14 days while asymptomatic returnees should self isolate for 14 days. These asymptomatic returnees’ data should be well collated and followed up to recheck them after 14 days to be sure that they aren’t presenting any symptoms.
Whoever that will not allow him or herself to be quarantined or cannot self isolate should go back to wherever he or she is coming from or never leave that place in the first place.
Our Dear Governor, Engr. David Umahi, I believe that reopening of borders will serve as a control measure to curb illegal entry into the State and it will also open our eyes to discover those who are symptomatic; those who need to be quarantined for 14 days before they will be discharged if they are free of the virus or treated, if they are Coronavirus positive.
Sir, I know you have so far grown the economy of the state, but with the reopening of borders, the economy will rise again and Ebonyians will recover all that they have lost in the past few months of the lockdown.
With this lockdown of over 2 months, a lot of people have lost their means of livelihood, but I believe with the reopening of borders, many of them will be able to continue from where they had stopped while some people will be able to start afresh completely.
The present lockdown has imposed hardship on Ebonyians, because of the lockdown, prices of goods are high since they need to tip all the security personnel on the way before they could reach their destinations, even though they are carrying essential commodities, these tips that are being paid on the road accumulate on the final price of the goods
The number of covid-19 cases being recorded in the state may not be well captured due to the high level of illegal entrants through several means.
There could be covid-19 infected persons who have successfully made their ways into the state and might be spreading this virus unknowingly, since some people could just be carriers of the virus and may not show any sign or symptoms.
If the borders are opened, the data of all entrants will be well captured and you’ll monitor appropriately and with this, we can minimize the number of cases entering the state by arresting symptomatic entrants and quarantine for 14 days or as the State deem it fit.
Thank You for your anticipated audience.