‘COVID-19 Becoming a Business Venture in Ondo’ provokes Anxiety, Controversies

By: Oluwatosin Adesola

…….Residents insist on full scale investigation, as Ondo Govt reacts.

Controversies, anxiety, tension as mixed reactions have started trailing a publication that Ondo state government has turned coronavirus pandemic into business venture, SUNSHINETRUTH can report.

This is even as the state Commissioner for information and orientation, Hon Donald Ojogo described the publication as a blackmail.

An Akure based news magazine, TRACE had investigated and reported that, “TRACE INVESTIGATES: COVID-19 IS BECOMING A BUSINESS IN ONDO STATE: This is a case allegedly imported into Ondo State by some individuals who want to keep the isolation centre running.

“At 11:30am today, we got a tip that a COVID-19 positive patient was being imported from Lagos to Akure allegedly by some medical professionals on the bill of the government. The vehicle that brought the patient took off from Lagos this morning.

“At 11:49am, TRACE put a message through to the Commissioner for Information to confirm the allegations that a COVID-19 patient was being imported to Akure from Lagos. The commissioner referred us to his health counterpart.

“On receipt of our message, the Commissioner for Health refused to respond and when called, he claimed not to have read his text messages and then declined comments, saying he was too busy.

“There have been allegations of shady activities at the isolation centre in Akure as some medical workers, in connivance with some government officials, want to keep the centre running at all costs.

“There are other details of the shady activities going on in the centre and we will continue to investigate while we urge the governor to beam a search light on the centre,” Trace News magazine reported.

However reacting the Commissioner for information denied the allegation raised in the publication.

Ojogo said, “Re:”COVID-19 Turns To Business In Ondo”-TRACE Magazine Missed The Point; The attention of the Ondo State Government has been drawn to the subject matter in which allusions were made and erroneous conclusions reached.

“Without doubt, TRACE Magazine indeed, sought reactions to the issues in reference. In line with our response protocols, I considered it very necessary that certain technical details were required and deeper insights desirable in respect of the issues raised.

“That informed the need to refer the Magazine to the Ministry of Health. Our long established communication synergy since the COVID-19 pandemic wherein intricate medical issues are first determined and processed before dissemination, strengthened my decision to refer the Magazine to the first point of our prescribed communication protocol.

“Coincidentally, the Health Commissioner was said to be briefing Mr. Governor on the latest development when the Magazine made efforts to confront him with the issues raised.

“To underscore Government’s commitment to transparency in the face of the current challenges, Mr Governor wasted no time in disclosing the case in question to the public.

“As of right, TRACE Magazine had a choice to either revert, after a fruitless attempt to get the attention of the Commissioner for Health or go ahead with an unsubstantiated copy. We conceed the choices to the writer; but the consequences of a misleading enterprise in respect of COVID-19 are shared by all.

“While Government considers the said ‘investigation’ a brazen act of blackmail, the general public is urged to ignore this slight pen slip by TRACE Magazine.

“The paper missed the point to the extent of its availability to enrich insinuations spiked by certain interests. From all indications, the motive behind the publication unpretentiously, overshadowed the possible harmful impact of distorted information on the public that is faced with the daily challenge of COVID-19 anxiety than the target-Ondo State Government. It’s another missed point.

“To insinuate that the Ondo State Government, under the present circumstances of an undeterminable pandemic, ‘imported’ a corona virus victim to shore up economic sympathy is nothing but a perfidous walk along a strange trajectory.”

Ojogo noted that, “Nonetheless, the Government is open to suggestions as it battles this pandemic. The media, as always, remains a veritable partner in this regard.

“It, therefore, becomes distasteful if any component of such partnership willingly opens its flanks for manipulation.

“We hold no grudges; but our collective efforts, especially those whose professional calling has placed in the frontline, deserve support,” the Commissioner said.

Some residents of ondo state who reacted called on the state government to launch full scale investigation into the allegation of turning COVID-19 pandemic into business venture in the state.

A legal Practitioner, Charles Titiloye said on his Facebook page that “ADMISSION OF LAGOS CONVID 19 PATIENT IN ONDO STATE IS UNACCEPTABLE. Govt need to appreciate the danger involved & investigate this case thoroughly!”

“The Government must return this patient back to Lagos where he was tested and confirmed to be Covid 19 positive. He is an escapee under the law. It is not a case of somebody who has confidence in Ondo state health facility.

“NCDC does not allow patient transfer without its permission. We cannot allow the health of the entire state to be compromised by anybody no matter how high and well connected. All persons involved in the unlawfully transfer of this patient must be isolated immediately for 14 days! COVID 19 must not be allowed to spread in Ondo State,” Titiloye said

Oladele Kolawole said, “Let those that know about it come out to prove their allegation. Government has shutdown her sources of IGR. That would have a direct financial impact on the government can money from IGR measure up with coronavirus incentive? If I were to be the governor, I will invite trace magazine to come and prove the allegation.”

Another resident who is a media professional, said “It has been the common character of the Commissioner for Health in the state to either reject calls or deliberately ignore calls/messages whenever we sought to clarify issues as regards this deadly Coronavirus.

“Until, we force them out of their shells, they won’t respond and by the time they respond, they gave a narrative of “blackmail”.

“I put to the government too that it is a “cheap blackmail” on their side to keep pushing out a wrong narrative that we all known to be Facts.”

The next few days will surely be interesting in the state on the controversial issue of turning COVID-19 pandemic into business venture.

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