The Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed, on Friday afternoon, joined other Muslims at the Bauchi central mosque for Jumat prayers, alongside other top government officials.
Mr Mohammed arrived the mosque located at the emir’s palace about 24 hours after he tested negative for COVID-19, an ailment that kept him in isolation for more than 14 days.
Mr Mohammed, about two weeks ago, tested positive to the virus that has killed over 80,000 across the globe. After his case was confirmed, Nigeria’s infectious disease agency, the NCDC confirmed at least five more from among those that had contact with the governor.
Mr Mohammed made his first public appearance at the mosque where he was welcomed by the Emir of Bauchi and other top government officials.
He appeared at the mosque wearing a facemask and hand gloves as he joined the emir at the reserved front row of the congregation.
Only the governor and a few others had facemasks and gloves on amidst the scores of worshippers at the mosque where social distancing was not observed.
The fact that Bauchi has six confirmed cases of the virus, and the federal government, as well as the Bauchi State government, has been preaching social distancing did not deter the worshippers at the Bauchi mosque from congregating without precautions.
Mr Mohammed thus joined other worshippers at the mosque to flout government directives.
While he was on isolation and undergoing treatment for the disease, Mr Mohammed’s deputy, Baba Tela, who heads the State Action Committee on COVID-19, had lamented that residents of Bauchi have not been obeying the social distancing order.
Mr Tela told journalists during one of the periodic news briefing on COVID-19 that he was “disappointed” with the rate of compliance in the state.
“We are disappointed that residents have not been complying with the social distancing directive advised by government,” he said.
Bauchi State has six confirmed cases of COVID-19 and has so far remained the only state in the Northeast to have recorded the outbreak of the coronavirus. But the state government has so far demonstrated little or poor commitment to combatting the spread of the disease.
While neighbouring states like Plateau have declared a total lockdown and stay at home in order to enable the effective fumigation of streets, Bauchi experiences normal daily activities without anyone sanctioning residents who violate government’s directives.
Markets where non-food items are sold are still operating even though the state’s committee on COVID-19 had earlier ordered that only markets where foods are sold would be allowed to operate.
The government last week explained that it was compelled to reverse its decision on the earlier two weeks total lockdown because the state does not have enough resources to provide the needed palliative for the residents that would remain at home.
After Friday’s Jumat prayer, Mr Mohammed exchanged pleasantries with the emir and other religious leaders before he was ushered by security operatives into his vehicle.
Mr Mohammed also addressed the congregation outside the mosque where he thanked them for their prayers while promising to dispense leadership with humility and justice.
While departing the palace, the governor mounted his official vehicle to publicly wave at the cheering crowd.