The Rivers State Government has observed with dismay the indecent and reckless politicisation of the fight to check the spread of coronavirus by agents of the Federal Government, especially as it relates to Rivers State.
The case in point is the promotion and sponsorship of a misleading narrative on the arrest of two pilots and 10 passengers of Carveton Helicopters by the Ministry of Aviation. This unnecessary media campaign has led to the publication of sponsored editorials in Thisday, The Guardian and countless articles on different online and Traditional Media.
According to a statement by the State Commissioner of Information and Communication Paulinus Nsirim, the media campaign of calumny against the Rivers State Government has been premised on falsehood, aimed at endangering the lives of over 6million Rivers people.
“Contrary to the view being peddled by the Minister of Aviation, Alhaji Hadi Sirika, the two pilots of Carveton Helicopters and their 10passengers were not arrested because they operated a permit granted them by the Ministry of Aviation.
“They were arrested because they constantly contravened the Executive Order issued by the Governor of Rivers State, His Excellency, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, which requires that everyone coming into the state for essential duties subject themselves to mandatory health checks to ascertain their coronavirus status .
“Before their arrests, the Rivers State Government issued several warnings to Carveton and other operators to ensure that their pilots and passengers are tested by Rivers State Health Authorities. Carveton Helicopters disregarded the warnings.
“At the last count, Carveton Helicopters ferried over 220 passengers into the State without allowing health professionals of the Rivers State Government ascertain their coronavirus status. They also refused to avail the State Government their contacts, so they can be traced and tested,” Nsirim said.
He added that the state government under the leadership of His Wike remains committed to the protection of the over 6million citizens of the state. “We are not struggling to issue landing permits to airlines, neither are we contending for the control of the air space. Therefore, the issue on ground has nothing to do with the Exclusive List” he said.
Nsirim said the Focus of the state government is to ensure that nobody under the guise of transporting workers on essential services, ferry in persons who will compromise our health system. He said the pilots and passengers must be subjected to health checks before they carry out their responsibilities. That is standard practice.
“The Federal Government as we speak has quarantined Chinese Doctors who are in the country on invitation of the operators of Exclusive List. These Chinese Doctors will be isolated for 14days as a precaution before they mix with Nigerians. If the Federal Government has done that in Abuja for Chinese officials that they invited, why do they insist that persons coming into Rivers State must enter the state without health check,” Nsirim said
He said from all indications, it is clear that there is a plot to compromise the health of Rivers people. Nsirim wonder what is the motive for the grandstanding and the sponsorship of false editorials to mislead Nigerians by agents of the Federal Government
He said the state government urges the Federal Government to direct all their business associates to subject themselves to health checks to ascertain their coronavirus status. “The safety of Rivers people is beyond any other consideration.
No amount of yellow journalism will diminish the leading role Governor Wike has provided the entire country since the outbreak of coronavirus,” he said.