ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY DIST. SEN. HOPE UZODIMMA, GOVERNOR OF IMO STATE, AT THE LAUNCH OF IMO INITIATIVE FOR A SUSTAINED SAFE AND HEALTHY IMO STATE BEYOND COVID 19.
The fact that we are living in troubled times is not in doubt. The human race is in grave danger of possible extinction from the threat of the dreaded COVID19. These are truly perilous times indeed. Our dear nation is not spared from this real and imminent threat to humanity. Confirmed cases of the Coronavirus disease in our country keep rising with the rising of the sun each day.
Expectedly, global and National leadership is today defined by the capacity for prompt, creative response to the prevention and containment of this monstrous virus. The challenge is simple; How do we, as leaders, save our citizens from the gory threat of COVID 19?
However, for our government, the challenge goes beyond COVID 19. It is about not just how to prevent the dreaded virus from coming into the state and how to control it in the event that it comes, but also on how to invent and implement a necessary policy architecture that can guarantee a sustainable safe and healthy Imo State.
Even with the troubling statistics of ever rising confirmed cases of COVID 19 in the country, we in Imo state have been spared from any confirmed case of the virus. This is to the glory of God and the relentless efforts of our government and the cooperation of our people and stakeholders. Yet as a people we must remain vigilant, creative and disciplined in our response to this monstrous virus to ensure that it never gets to our state, and if it does, that we must not be caught napping.
Yet, as we focus firmly on this dreaded virus because of its awesome potency, we must never lose sight of the fact that other threats to our collective safety and peaceful existence abound. Crime, other contagious diseases and disasters are among them.
It is against the backdrop of these challenges to our health and peaceful co-existence that I am delighted to present to you The Imo Initiative on the prevention of contagious diseases, crime and disasters.
This initiative has in place well measured steps to prevent and contain, not just COVID 19 but indeed any other contagious disease. It also outlines a clear roadmap on the prevention and containment of crime and disasters. Put succinctly, the Imo initiative is a comprehensive package that seeks to clinically confront and conquer the health and safety challenges of Imo people. It is a programme designed to keep our people safe and healthy beyond COVID 19.
As our people say prevention is better than cure. Therefore, it behoves us like duteous inheritors of our ancestral wisdom to walk the talk and live up to the expectations of God and humanity. This is the prime impetus for The Imo Initiative policy action being unveiled today.
I am very confident that these preventive actions have significance beyond the ordinary. Indeed, they are rooted in government’s responsibility for the security and well being of Ndimo. After all, our elders instruct that “onye ndiro gbara gburu gburu na eche nduya nche, mgbe nile” That is to say that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. Covid 19 is an enemy with great potential to wreck havoc on our people and even wipe us from the face of the earth.
The Imo initiative is therefore intended to spur us as a government and as a people, to rise to the occasion and stand up valiantly for our rights to freedom from rampaging diseases and the criminal fraternity amongst us, whose sole ambition is to deprive other citizens of their lives and property and the rewards of their hard work and success.
It is in this respect that I delightfully present to Ndimo our state of readiness to prevent COVID 19 from entering Imo state and in the unfortunate event that it does, fight it to a standstill. As I address you here, six well equipped isolation centres are now in place in the state. We just finished a public tour and commissioning of the centres. They are located as follows; Okigwe General Hospital, Aboh Mbaise General Hospital Owerri Wellbeing Centre, Orlu Road, Orlu Teaching Hospital, Federal Medical Centre Owerri, and General Hospital Umuguma.
An operationally ready test and treatment centre for Coronavirus is also in place in Owerri metropolis. A molecular laboratory has been set up to this effect. This laboratory can be used to test for all viruses, Covid, Ebola e.t.c. Well-trained and equipped medical experts from National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and African Epidemiological Network (AENET) are on ground to test for the virus, if there is anyone with symptoms and to treat any confirmed case. They are also training our community health educators.
In addition to the existing state taskforce on Covid 19, we have set up taskforces at the L.G.A. and ward levels. To fortify our state of readiness, 28 state of the art ambulances have been provided by the government to attend to emergencies in each of the 27 L.G.As. and one for the state capital. Any health emergency, anywhere in the state, including COVID 19, will be promptly handled by these ambulances.
A specialist hospital for the prevention of contagious diseases is being put in place. This is to ensure that effective medical facilities are in place for the prevention and control of contagious diseases in the state. World class physicians have been lined up to man the hospital.
In addition, an emergency call centre has been established. Anyone with any information on COVID 19, or on any disaster or criminal activity should simply dial 112 and someone will gladly attend to you. You do not need to have airtime credit on your phone to make this call because the call is toll free.
As you have seen, 100 security pick up vehicles are lined up right here, clearly marked operation Search and flush (SAF). They are for the operations of the combined team of our security agencies. military, Police and Civil Defense, for crime combating. With these vehicles security agencies will henceforth be on a 24 hour patrol of all the nooks and crannies of Imo state to search and flush out all criminals. Anyone with useful information on any criminal activity should simply dial the emergency call centre and within minutes a security patrol team will be at the scene of the suspected criminal activity to apprehend suspects. The call centre has uninterrupted communication link with the patrol teams.
Let me be absolutely clear, my administration is resolved to fight criminals to the finish. This assistance to the security agencies is proof of our determination in this regard. I enjoin the officers and men of each arm of the security agencies to the reciprocate government’s goodwill in the judicious use of the equipments that have been provided and post a healthy return on investment through low or zero crime rate in the coming months.
I believe that it is self evident that the Imo initiative is indeed a well thought out process that will effectively address our health, security and environmental challenges. As I said, the goal of our government is to keep Imo people safe and healthy. This is a task that must be accomplished.
Yet it can only be accomplished with the cooperation of the good people of Imo state. If you suspect anyone with symptoms of the Coronavirus disease or you suspect that a criminal activity is taking place around you and you don’t put a call across to the emergency call centre then you are not lending your cooperation and support to the efforts of government. That means that the Imo initiative programme will not be effective.
I therefore appeal to you to give your full support and cooperation to the Imo initiative so that together we can make Imo state safe and healthy.
Our troubled times does not only call for creative initiatives from leaders, it also calls for sacrifices and discipline from the people. If one side fails, success in the fight for a healthy safe society cannot be guaranteed. Your role is as important as the role of government.
To this end I appeal to you to bear with patience and understanding the sacrifices you must make to help government win the war against COVID 19 and crime. Consequently, when you are asked to stay indoors, do just that. When you are asked to regularly wash your hands with soap in running water for 20 seconds and allow to dry, do just that. When you are asked to regularly sanitize your hands, do just that and when you have reason to call the emergency call centre, don’t hesitate to do just that. Let us resolve to work together as one family and keep Imo state safe and healthy.
We are taking further measures to ensure the safety of Imo state from any virus. To this end all markets and major public meeting places are being disinfected. Hand washing points and soap are to be provided at strategic public locations so that people can freely wash their hands on the streets, when they go out.
As your governor, I am mindful of the hardship you are going through because of the Coronavirus lockdown. As I promised in my state broadcast Last week, government will review the situation of things on a weekly basis. To this end, and in view of the approaching Easter celebrations, we shall soon take a second look at the present measures in place and see if there should be reviews.
In the meantime food items and condiments are being provided through the local government to alleviate the hardship of the people.
I thank the good people of Imo State, Stakeholders, particularly those who have made donations to the Covid 19 fight, for their cooperation and support so far. I pray that by the grace of God with our commitment and determination we shall come out of the COVID 19 pandemic safe, healthy and strong.
Thank you and God bless.
Sen. Hope Uzodimma
Governor, Imo State
Friday April 3rd, 2020