Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, has criticised the federal government for giving a N10 billion grant to Lagos State to fight the novel coronavirus while “abandoning” other states of the federation.
The confirmed cases of coronavirus infection in Nigeria stood at 232 as of Sunday evening. Lagos has 120, which is the highest in the country, while Rivers state has one confirmed case.
Mr Wike, in a statewide broadcast on Sunday, accused President Buhari’s administration of “politicising” the nation’s effort to halt the spread of the virus.
Mr Wike said Lagos is Nigeria’s commercial hub, but that Rivers, as the nation’s oil and gas hub, “produces a greater percentage of the nation’s wealth” and therefore deserves federal support.
“One wonders why Federal Government should single out a state out of 36 States to give support. Does it mean that support will come when a State has a record of over 50 infected persons?
“No state should be seen as more important than any other state. This is a Federal Republic. No state is superior to others,” the governor said.
“Rivers State is entitled to support from the Federal Government. Every day, we are inundated with letters from the Federal Government to allow oil companies to fly in expatriates to drill oil. Then we ask, what is the status of those coming from Lagos? Nobody has told us their status as regards coronavirus.
“If they come to Rivers without us knowing their status, what will be the implication assuming they have the virus?”
The governor said the restriction of movement in the state would be relaxed in the state on Tuesday and Wednesday to allow residents to do their shopping for Easter and also replenish their stocks.
He also announced a committee to oversee the state government’s food distribution programme to cushion the impact of the stay-at-home order.
Mr Wike disclosed that the index case of the coronavirus in Rivers State is now negative and would soon be discharged from the treatment centre.
“We thank our frontline health professionals who have displayed a deep sense of professionalism and patriotism during this trying period.
“The State Government is also grateful to all Rivers people and private individuals who have contributed to support us in this fight. At the appropriate time, Government will publish the names of these individuals.”
“May I urge our religious leaders to continue to intercede on behalf of the state as we fight to contain this virus.”