- Ilesa Commercial Motorcyclists Run To Osogbo, Ile-Ife
- The Lockdown Should Have Been Immediate-Omigbodun, Social Analyst
By Solomon Odeniyi & Sodiq Yusuf
There are growing concerns over possible community transmission of the Coronavirus pandemic in Ile-Ife and Osogbo, the capital of the State of Osun, following the influx of commercial motorcyclists and other residents of Ilesa into the two cities.
Findings by Bioreports revealed that COVID-19 might spread wider among the residents of Osogbo and Ile-Ife in few weeks to come because of the mass movement of people from Ilesa-East, Ilesa-West, Atakunmosa East and Atakunmosa West local government areas where the state government declared total lockdown of recent.
It would be recalled that the Deputy Governor of the State, Mr Benedict Alabi had last Friday held meeting with stakeholders in Ijesaland where he informed them that a seven-day lockdown would be declared in the four local governments, due to suspected community transmission of COVID-19 in the area. The lockdown commenced on Tuesday.
According to the Commissioner for Health in the State, Dr. Rafiu Isamotu, the recent cases of COVID-19 in the state were mostly people from Ilesa axis.
Investigations revealed increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in the Ilesa axis might not be unconnected with the influx of non-residents of the state, particularly the northerners into Ijesaland for illegal gold mining activities.
Before the relaxation of the lockdown imposed on the state for over a month, northerners had been moving in droves into Ijesaland and some other parts of the state.
A former Director-General of the Osun State Broadcasting Corporation (OSBC), Mr. Wale Idowu also attributed the increase in the COVID-19 cases to illegal mining activities going on in Ijesaland.
Idowu, who spoke with Bioreports in a telephone interview said: “The lockdown is a welcome development; the government has its purpose for carrying it out. And government is majorly responsible for the security and welfare of the people.
“It is a reality that COVID-19 is increasing in Ijesaland. And we have seen that coming long before now when 50 men were brought from Kaduna for mining activities. Aside from that, the activities at the mining sites are still going on unrestricted, even during the lockdown period, coupled with the fact that we have loose boundaries.
“All put together, they have all made it impossible to have sanity in our area. That is why we are where we are today. Government has done well. The only appeal is to our people: that they should comply with the lockdown so that the hitherto serenity and peace enjoyed in our communities can be restored.”
However, residents of the affected local governments, particularly the commercial motorcyclists have been moving in droves into Osogbo and Ile-Ife ahead of the commencement of the lockdown.
Bioreports noted that the commercial motorcyclists had been moving into the two cities since Sunday evening to continue their business.
There are worries that some of the commercial motorcyclists and other residents of Ilesa leaving the town might be carriers of the Coronavirus pandemic and infect the people in Osogbo and Ile-Ife.
About six commercial motorcyclists who were accosted by OUR REPORTERS on Monday at Owode, a community after Ilesa Garage in Osogbo, confided in the medium that they were heading for Osogbo to avoid being caught by the lockdown in Ilesa.
According to the commercial motorcyclists, they have friends in Osogbo to stay with for the seven-day period of the lockdown in Ilesa, saying that they could not afford not to work for a day because they live from hand to mouth.
Asked if they knew they were COVID-19 carriers or if not afraid of being infected by the virus where they wanted to be live in Osogbo, four of the commercial motorcyclists differently said ‘we don’t have Coronavirus. It cannot get to strugglers like us. And we are not afraid of getting it at our friends’ places because the virus can’t be there. We know ourselves.”
Speaking on the lockdown, a social analyst, Mr. Goke Omigbodun commended Governor Oyetola on his efforts to curtail the spread of the virus, saying that the Coronavirus should be restricted to anywhere it is found.
Omigbodun, who spoke with the medium on telephone on Tuesday said: “If health officials have reported to the Governor that the virus is spreading in the four affected local governments in Ijesaland, and the Governor in his wisdom decided to lock down those places, I give him 100 per cent support.
“What we are after is to contain the virus. I have always believed that the virus should be restricted to wherever it is found. The biggest mistake the Governor ever made was to have allowed our borders to be porous. That virus should not have come to the State of Osun at all.
“But wherever we can localise the virus, we should do that effectively. And after localising it, we should gradually make sure that we get rid of it in every nook and cranny of the state. I doubt if there is going to be anyone that will not support the governor on the lockdown.
“However, if I were the governor, the lockdown should have been immediate. As beautiful as any decision could be, once you leave a space, so many things will happen. I agree that there should not have been any space at all for the lockdown.
“When the entire state was left open for two days and everybody was on the street at the same time after a two weeks lockdown, I had feared that there would be community transmission. Thank God there was not. But now people have opportunity to migrate from Ilesa to other parts of the state.
“If I am an Ilesa resident and I have an alternative accommodation in Osogbo, I would also migrate. One would not want to stay in a restricted place while there is movement in other places. I do not blame the people that are migrating; I think the Governor ought to have declared the lockdown and insisted on it immediately. There should not have been any space and serious community tracking should be in place for those that could have been infected.”
Explaining the reasons for the delay in the lockdown, Isamotu, the Commissioner for Health, said stakeholders in the four affected local governments requested for some days to get prepared.
He said: “The stakeholders in the affected local government areas requested for some days for them to get prepared for the lockdown. They needed time to stock their homes and complete some few things. That was why the lockdown did not start immediately. Head or tail, you cannot win everything.
“We are not sure there will not be community transmission. Nobody is sure of anything. Everybody is a suspect in the situation we are now, and that is why each and everyone of us must stay safe and follow the precautionary measures.
“We should not give room for any chance. We are not sure the people coming to Osogbo or those going to Ile Ife are not COVID-19 infected. In any case, community transmission is happening everywhere.”
Besides, majority residents of the two cities have totally disregarded the precautionary measures to curtail the spread of the virus.
It was noted that apart from Osogbo and Ile-Ife, residents of other parts of the state have refused to be using their face masks, just as they do not longer respect the regulations guiding physical distancing and ban on gathering of more than 20 people again.
Investigations by Bioreports revealed that despite the ongoing restriction, individuals are still holding weddings, naming ceremonies and other events with total disregard to physical distancing, use of face mask, among other preventive measures.
The old practice, which has lingered since the start of the gradual easing of the lockdown earlier imposed by the state government has continued to rear its ugly head.