Governor Simon Bako Lalong of Plateau State has averted what could have disturbed the fragile peace in Plateau State even as the state government unfold strategies to contain the spread of the dreaded coronavirus disease – a pandemic with more than 785,897 already affected globally in over 180 countries.
To safeguard public health and help flatten the growth curve for COVID-19, the Plateau State government had announced a number of measures including restriction of movements, ban of any social or religious gathering in excess of 50 people.
The directive also ordered all public servants in Plateau State from levels 12 and below are to work from home for the next 30 days; while all market activities have been partially shut down. Only traders selling food items, pharmaceuticals and cooking gas are exempted, and workers on essential services such as security, media, health, street cleaners and water supply and energy are the only ones exempted from the restrictions.
A taskforce is already in place charged with enforcement and monitoring of the restrictions. In addition, the taskforce is to coordinate, evaluate and review developments of the disease in the state.
However, the restriction order was flouted last Friday by the spiritual leader of Jamma’atu Izalatil Bid’a Waikamatis Sunnah, Sheikh Sani Yahaya Jingir, to the consternation of stakeholders in and outside the state.
For many, Sheikh Jingir’s performance of the Friday congregational prayer despite an order against that from the federal and state governments clearly could undermine the safety measures against the spread of COVID-19 and potentially undermine the peace of the state.
It was clear that the Sheik had gone against federal laws and also undermined the regulation for public safety by the Plateau State government.
Lalong moves to curtail threat to peace and public safety
A firm Governor Lalong had moved to curtail potential threat to peace and public safety. This week, Sheikh Jingir had expressed regret over the incidence and pledged his continuous support for peace and willingness to join the government to fight the coronavirus.
“While many would have desired an immediate arrest of the offending Sheik which may further disturb the peace, Governor Lalong opted to have a more practicable approach at addressing the issues. We don’t want any public disorder and we don’t want anything to divert attention from the greater enemy of COVID-19,” said a senior official of Plateau State with knowledge of the matter.
Plateau creates Situation Room, deploys technology to tame COVID-19
Meanwhile Plateau State has set up a Situation Room to monitor, evaluate and adopt all measures as may be necessary to slow down or tame COVID-19 in the state. Part of the objectives of the Situation Room is to create public awareness on the coronavirus and work with all stakeholders including the state taskforce to fight the spread of COVID-19.
The state has unveiled a COVID-19 technology platform to report incidence of coronavirus cases, evaluate field reports, provide information on index and contact tracing as well as provide first rate information on COVID-19 trends locally, nationally and globally so as to prevent panic and allow citizens and government make informed decisions.
Already, the state has deployed officials on its major highways to take saliva sample of travelers for test and possible feedback on the outcomes.