Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, is considering ordering a lockdown in oil and gas-rich Bonny Island, following the increasing number of coronavirus cases in the state.
Wike spoke on Tuesday, when he met with the king and traditional rulers of Bonny in Government House, Port Harcourt.
Rivers took the second position on Tuesday in the national chart published by the National Centre for Disease Control, recording 103 cases after Lagos, which had 216.
The statistics also indicated that Rivers had so far recorded 592 cases with 347 active cases and 23 deaths.
While addressing the monarchs and opinion leaders, Wike urged them to ensure their people understood the reality of COVID-19.
He said there was an urgent need for residents of the island to cooperate with the state government to ensure that all COVID-19 protocols were obeyed to contain the spread of the pandemic in the area.
He said, “Bonny is strategic to the national economy and we have to work together to ensure that the disease does not cripple the economy.
“We have to make our people to stop living in denial about the existence of COVID-19 because such attitude will not allow them to take the necessary precautions.
“The results of samples collected from Bonny indicate that it could be an epicentre of the pandemic in the state, if a drastic action is not taken.
“It is not something our people should pretend that it does not exist. Something that has taken the world by storm and killing more than conventional warfare, should be taken seriously.
“When this pandemic started in the state, I raised the alarm that 60 percent of the cases were from rig workers and had to impose lockdown on Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas.
“So many were not happy. What will be my joy to close down businesses if not to save life. I have the responsibility to make sure that the people that have given me their mandate are alive. Will I be governor of the dead? Some of us do not appreciate that we have to make sacrifices if that is going to save our people.”
Wike said the State Security Council would meet on June 17 to review the situation in Bonny and consider a possible lockdown.
He said the rising cases of the pandemic in the state should give every right thinking person serious concern.
He announced that the state would soon publish guidelines for the conduct of marriages during the period.
The governor, also in a statement by his Commissioner for Information and Communications, Paulinus Nsirim, reminded residents of the ban on operations of cinemas and viewing centres in the state.
He said, “We must continually avoid situations that will lead to gathering of people in large numbers, as this will enable us flatten the curve.
“These cinemas and viewing centers are businesses that cannot control the influx of viewers, as they maximize profits from the multitude of people that gather, neither can they maintain social distancing, as they cannot be controlled.
“All local government chairmen are hereby directed to ensure that no cinema or viewing centre is open in their areas. Landlords, who allow their premises to be used as viewing centres, may have their property confiscated by the state government.”
But the Amayanabo of Bonny, King Edward William Dappa Pepple, in his remarks at the meeting with Wike, said despite efforts made to enlighten the people, most of them still lived in denial.
He pledged the support of the kingdom in addressing the health crisis, saying that medical relief and palliatives should be provided to ease the hardship that could be caused by a possible lockdown.
The Vice-Chairman of Bonny Council of Chiefs, Haniel Jack-Wilson- Pepple, commended Wike for putting the lives of the people first in the fight against COVID-19 and for approving a 30-bed treatment centre for Bonny.