Following the recent apology, tendered by the Governor of Oyo State with regards to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) rally, which held on Wednesday 18th of March 2020, at the peak of the Coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19), many have been left pondering if this means of damage control will suffice for the gross incompetence and negligence on the part of His Excellency, Governor Seyi Makinde, who is a supposed upwardly mobile “technocrat” with the responsibility of ensuring the protection and safety of the people of Oyo state.
It is not only abhorrently baffling that the Governor claims to have had no prior knowledge of the dangers of the pandemic sweeping the world presently, considering that the WHO organization had declared a global health emergency over a month before this said rally took place. This excuse of ignorance can therefore only be received as untrue and simply a contemptible act of irresponsibility.
Here are other facts to consider about how and why Seyi Makinde’s apology doesn’t hold water;
- Seyi Makinde himself should be in self-quarantine.
Barely 10-11 days ago, Governor Makinde was in Florida, USA, for a supposed self-styled search for investors. This was days after the US government had declared an emergency that the Coronavirus had entered pandemic levels within the country. Now, by the stringent WHO standards and measures aimed at curbing this virus, Governor Makinde was meant to be in quarantine and self-isolation for 14 days, however, he has since then gone to the office, attended meetings with other people, and was as well present at the rally that had over a thousand people in attendance, choosing political mileage at the expense of the health and lives of people.
- He deliberately politicized a pandemic.
Here are Seyi Makinde’s own words on the day of the rally:
“…I want you to take two things home. And the first is; they (referring to the opposition APC) are of the opinion that we should not have staged this rally because of the Coronavirus pandemic but it was one of their leaders who said Coronavirus has already infiltrated their party. We all know that there is no Coronavirus in our own party…”
It is utterly repulsive and injudicious of a supposed leader in this age and time to politicize a raging virus and trivialize the importance of taking precaution and safety measures. How can the person who uttered these words turn back later to claim ignorance about the severeness of the Coronavirus? It is rather clear that the lives of the people of Oyo state were less important to the political ambition of the party; if not so, how then, can this statement be justified? He led the party to the rally and damned the consequences as long as their party appears large for the cameras.
- Oyo state has now entered serious Coronavirus RISK mode because of the lack of leadership.
Governor Seyi Makinde has not led by example. The fact that Seyi Makinde unfortunately led his party to that rally is one thing, the other thing he has failed to provide in these serious times is leadership. He failed at it both by that rally and by his letter. While other governors in neighboring states such as Lagos and Ogun have actively led a Coronavirus campaign in the past 3-4 weeks by educating their people aggressively, declaring bans (both religious and social) in line with social distancing and have consistently provided updates daily. Oyo state has yet to enforce any bans or sensitize her people on sanitization and prevention measures; clubs were full to the brim on Friday and Saturday, same as religious gatherings/vigils and owambe parties. This is even after the Ekiti state government had announced that the first confirmed case in their state had been in Ibadan for more than two weeks. Yet, Seyi Makinde’s led a horde of PDP members to some macabre dance in Mapo, mingling with unsuspecting citizens (vendors and residents), despite all the warnings about the risk of massive gatherings.
Not stopping there, he gleefully met with musician Davido yesterday, another person who is meant to be in quarantine too, having just arrived from a US your last week. But Seyi Makinde met with him and Davido had no reason to halt his movement into at least 3 Ibadan clubs on Saturday, I mean, he just met with the Governor who just came into the country too and is not in quarantine.
All this is happening when other state governments are already on the route of enforcement for safety measures and bans. While the Governors of Lagos and Ogun and even neighboring southwest states like Ekiti too have led their people away from the risk and fear, Seyi Makinde’s lack of leadership at this crucial time is leading his own people towards it…his letter of apology reeked of rhetoric and repetition, without a bespoke direction Oyo state is taking to curb the virus. This would explain why most residents are not seen taking caution indeed. As of today, Ekiti state has giving figures of all the people that have come in contact with the person that tested positive to the covid-19, but no such data thus far has been provided by the Oyo state government.
- Apologies are not a prevention measure or cure for Coronavirus
After that show of what can be unarguably called a brazen show of irresponsibility by the ruling party in Oyo state, Governor Seyi Makinde dropped some sort of appalling apology on Thursday, taking responsibility for the rally held by the party against all sounds of reason.
But this doesn’t cut it.
Italy has been the worst hit so far, as their Coronavirus deaths surpassed that of China on Friday. The country has repeatedly sent serious messages of warning to other countries of the world on how they should take lessons from the results of their delayed response in curbing the virus and to understand that prevention is MOST important at this stage of the pandemic. This is simply because apologies and mismanagement would not save lives or reverse deaths.
In all of this, the Chief Security Officer of the state in Seyi Makinde, then decided to jeopardize the safety of his people by hosting a very crowded rally in the heart of Ibadan, where an artiste even flew in directly from the UK (another Coronavirus hot zone) to perform and afterward delivered a paper-worth apology with the clause of ignorance? Very absurd, right?
Do apologies prevent a pandemic?
With the confirmation of one or two cases in the state, one just seriously has to hope, that his act of 𝗗𝗘𝗟𝗜𝗕𝗘𝗥𝗔𝗧𝗘 𝗜𝗥𝗥𝗘𝗦𝗣𝗢𝗡𝗦𝗜𝗕𝗜𝗟𝗜𝗧𝗬 does not go down to be monumentally costly for Oyo state and its neighboring cities.
Kareem Tajudeen Abisodun is a 2-term member of the House of Representatives, and former Chairman of the House Committee on Urban Development and Regional Planning, and he wrote from Ibadan.