…Set to build 49 ICUs before 2023
…Speaks on school resumption, tax relief, succession plan
Governor Udom Emmanuel has revealed that Akwa Ibom State government has so far invested over N3 billion in ensuring citizens survive the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Governor made this revelation while speaking during his regular live citizens’ feedback program, ‘Governor Udom Speaks’, streamed on both electronics and social media platforms across the globe, on Saturday, July 25, 2020, in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State Capital.
Also read: Hope for Akwa Ibom after COVID-19
According to him, in order to ensure that Akwa Ibomites can access the best health care, three more containers filled with medicals equipment and supplies have been acquired and delivered to the State. Government is ensuring that both suspected and confirmed cases are fed and treated free of charge throughout their stay in the hospital, all 43 cottage and general hospitals have been provided with basic Covid-19 training and kits to improve the handling of cases before they are transferred to Isolation Centers.
In addition, a new PCR laboratory has been completed and is awaiting the NCDC certification. Also, assorted food items have been procured for the second round of palliatives distribution to the very poor across the 31 local government areas of the State. Government is building a new oxygen plant at the Isolation Center, Ituk Mbang that would attend to 300 patients simultaneously, as well as building a state-of-the-art toilet tissue factory and others.
The Governor announced that his administration intends to up the ante in providing accessible and affordable medicare to Akwa Ibom people everywhere in the State.
“My target is that we have 49 functional ICUs before we leave the office. Recall that I said while revamping some of our hospitals that ‘ there could be a condition where 30 minutes reach to hospital matters’, lo and behold coronavirus came!”
He disclosed that the State has entered the stage of community spread, appealing to citizens to protect themselves and comply with government safety protocols at public places and social events.
“We are at a stage of community transmission, and what that means is that you must protect yourself. At this moment, everything is important. Don’t ignore even a sore throat. Don’t wait to realise that coronavirus is real when it is too late”. He said.
He, however, cleared the air on recent update by NCDC, saying since the pandemic hit the country, the State has recorded just seven deaths of those who tested positive to the virus. He admitted that there has been an additional 4 deaths recorded since the last interview, but not on a single day.
“It is not as if they all died in one day, but it is just because that is the time that NCDC decided to update its records. All those cases were brought in to our facilities when their conditions were very bad”.
Speaking further on the new PCR laboratory, he said it will boost testing. “I am glad to inform you that the State has activated the second PCR lab and it is 100% ready. We are only awaiting NCDC certification. So be rest assured that we will soon step up the testings in the State. Now that we have a second laboratory, we will have more testings carried out”. He promised.
On the strategic repositioning of state post-Covid-19 economy, Governor Emmanuel harped on agriculture, saying this would ensure food security, create job opportunities, enhance growth and boost establishment of agro-allied cottage industries.
The State Chief Executive spoke at length about reopening of schools in the State. He said “we are soon going to announce the resumption dates for schools. We are beginning from JSS 3 and SS3. We want to de-fog the schools before we allow the children to return.
“The Ministry of Education is monitoring the West African Examinations Council to know when the exams are holding so that they will ensure that the students resume and acclimatise long enough before exams commence.
While answering questions from viewers, the Governor reiterated that he does not have an anointed successor.
“I am not that kind of Governor that will seek a third term through a surrogate. I am also not that kind of Governor who wants to rule for 24 years. Trust me to know that your Governor can only support someone who genuinely has the interest of the state at heart”.
He expressed disappointment with the poor handling of development of oil-bearing states especially Akwa Ibom State by the federal government and international oil companies.
“Our State produces oil and contributes significantly to the economy of the country. But I’m yet to see any meaningful development brought to our State. I have not seen any significant presence of those who explore our oil.
“Even ExxonMobil feels too reluctant to pay tax. So what we can do to help ourselves, is to encourage those who are willing to partner with us to develop our State.”
The Governor admitted that although announcing tax relief will affect the State’s internally generated revenue, it was a necessary measure to support small and medium enterprises to recover from Covid-19 economic shock.
On the fate of capital projects, Governor Emmanuel appealed to citizens to bear with the government as it focuses on ensuring the State survives the scourge. He reassured citizens that all projects will be looked into once the situation improves and the rain subsides.