COVID-19: Mixed reactions trail Gov. Uzodinma closure of state secretariat
A cross-section of Owerri residents has expressed mixed reactions to Gov. Hope Uzodinma’s order for the closure of the state Secretariat in the wake of rising cases of COVID-19 in Imo.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the governor in a statewide broadcast announced new measures, including ordering workers to stop coming to work, in order to contain the spread of the second wave of the pandemic in Imo.
He regretted the increase in the number of new cases of the pandemic in the state, which presently stands at 680 from 648 as at November ending.
Reacting to the governor’s order, which took effect on Monday, some civil servants said they were dismayed by the sudden halt of official activities at the secretariat.
Mr Anthony Njoku of the Ministry of Health said it was unfortunate that the closure was coming barely a few days to the Christmas and New Year celebrations.
Njoku said that the executive order had disrupted plans by workers to get some palliatives for the festive period.
According to him, some workers are owed October and November salaries, while others have yet to be paid since March.
“Inasmuch as it is wise to curtail the spread of COVID-19, the timing for the closure of the secretariat is wrong.
“The closure has stalled our arrangements to solicit palliatives from well-meaning individuals, pending the payment of our arrears of salaries,’’ he said.
Mrs Angela Uwadileke argued that it would have been better to restrict movement in and out of the secretariat rather than total lockdown.
Uwadileke said that the pandemic had come to stay and could only be managed.
She contended that closing down the system would not end the pandemic but worsen the economic difficulties.
However, Mr Emma Ukachukwu of the Ministry of Education expressed support for the measure.
Ukachukwu described the closure of the secretariat as a proactive measure by the governor to contain the spread of the virus.
“It means the governor is thinking for the good health of Imo workers and entire citizenry,” he said.
He urged increased understanding of government’s policies among relevant stakeholders and support for the speedy eradication of the virus.
“The order to suspend activities at the secretariat is in the best interest of Imo workers.
“Everyone should help the government to help us. Health is wealth,’’ Ukachukwu said.
Meanwhile, the governor directed that only permanent secretaries and political appointees should continue to come to work until further notice.