Governor Nyesom Wike said he will re-impose lockdown from January 2021, following the rising number of new cases of COVID-19 in Rivers State.
Wike gave the hint during a thanksgiving ceremony held for Mrs. Priscilla Nwanediye Mark on her 90th birthday at the St. Martin’s Anglican Church, Omagwa in Ikwerre Local Government yesterday.
The governor in a statement by his media aide, Kelvin Ebiri, described as worrisome the refusal of most churches and markets in the state to enforce the compulsory wearing of facemask in adherence to COVID-19 protocol.
The governor said the state government had initially relaxed the restriction on the number of persons who worship in churches, but with the second wave of COVID-19, he will by this week announce new stringent measures to check the spread of COVID-19 cases in the state.
“When you go to some churches, they don’t wear masks. Go to the market, they don’t wear masks. They believe COVID is not real. It’s not real because it has not happened to you; nobody had died whom you know. When somebody has died and the person was close to you, you will know that Covid is real.
“So, it is real and I want to appeal to all of you that we have to be more strict now because the second wave is more dangerous than the first wave. It’s very, very dangerous. I know how many people we have lost since the second wave started,” he stated.
Wike implored the Bishop of Diocese of Ikwerre to prevail on members of all the churches under his jurisdiction to always wear their facemasks and observe extant protocols aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.
“If you don’t comply, I have no choice, but to shut down the churches; Pentecostal, Catholic, Anglican. I have no choice, because when you have it, who spends the money? It is the state that treats.
So, we need to use the money for some other things, but not for this. Let us discipline ourselves and know that COVID is real. Let nobody tell you that there is nothing like COVID. It’s real.”
The governor urged leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party in Ikwerre Local government area to use Mrs. Mark’s 90th birthday to work in unison for the development of the area.
He also used the occasion to extol the chairman of Ikwerre local government, Samuel Nwanosike for his commitment to the development of the area but urged the council boss to respect party leaders and ensure that all stakeholders work in unison to move the State forward.
The governor who was accompanied by the Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, announced the donation of N50 million to the church.
Delivering a sermon titled, “Thanking God for His Mercy”, the Bishop, Diocese of Ikwerre, Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Right Reverend Blessing Enyindah, stressed the need for people to always acknowledge God’s mercies in their lives.
Bishop Enyindah who observed that this is an era where people lived below 50-year lifespan, said it was the mercy of God that made Mrs. Priscilla Mark attain 90 years.
He admonished people to inculcate the habit of living a healthy lifestyle and commit their lives unto God to be able to live up to 90 years.