My dear people,

I come to you today with a heavy heart. A heart full of pain and melancholy. It is now five days since we lost one of the most illustrious leaders of Ondo state, Dr Wahab Adegbenro, our immediate past Commissioner for Health. He was also our immediate chairman Interministerial committee on COVID-19. As you know, he submitted to the superior hand of death in active service to our state at our most trying period. May Allah receive receive him into his grace and grant him Aljannah Fidau, Amen.

As a mark of respect for the departed and as part of the mourning period, we have not appointed a new commissioner for Health. I have only approved that my Special Adviser on Health supervise the Ministry until we take further decision.

Nothing can ever be enough to describe our sense of loss and regrets. By the outpour of love, affection and testimony to the great and fulfilling life he lived, he will forever remain a true hero that we once had. He stood as a rock in the fight to save our State from the rampage of COVID-19.

As you all know, I have also been a victim of COVID-19. Though asymptomatic, I tested positive to the virus and immediately went into self isolation with supervised home management. Those days in isolation were defining period for me. They convinced me further of the right track we have chosen, to mobilise our people against the deadly pandemic. After a few days in isolation, my samples were taken and tested again in accordance with the treatment protocols of COVID-19, the results came in few minutes ago. I tested negative.

Firstly, I give thanks to God Almighty for his mercies. I thank all citizens and residents of Ondo state who have shown great love and genuine affection through prayers, phone calls and kind words expressing regrets and solidarity. Rest assured that I am deeply inspired by your faith and goodwill and I wish to state categorically that this season shall also pass away. I also thank members of my family and friends too numerous to mention here. You are all hugely appreciated for their concerns and prayers.

One lesson which ought to be clear to all of us with the recent events is that COVID-19 is real. It is also a resounding message that it is deadly, willing and able to wreak the greatest havoc on individuals and families, indeed our entire society, if permitted.

Let me use this opportunity to passionately appeal to all our people to please take the fight against COVID-19 seriously. Let us deliberately address our minds to implement all the precautionary measure pronounced and activated by Government. It is the right thing to do. The menace of this deadly virus is expanding in exponential measure. It is in fact putting massive pressure on the treatment facilities of Government. I have just been briefed that between Saturday July the 4th and Sunday July the 5th a total of 62 new cases were recorded.

Presently, the Infectious Disease Hospital here in Akure has been stretched to the limits, so also are our medical equipment and personnel. The obvious implication of this for us, is that prevention is the best way to reduce pressure on cure.

Before our illustrious Dr Wahab Adegbenro took his bow, a total of 20 people have lost their lives to the Virus while over 472 have tested positive to the infection. While the number of confirmed case have escalated, the number of discharged cases as at today is 113.

My dear people, I wish to assure you that in spite of the challenges of the times, Government will continue to prioritise its attention and expand its investment upon sustainable efforts at combating this menace. The activation of the Testing Centre at the Federal Medical Center, Owo is due today while the Akure Testing Centre will also commence in due course. Let me also confirm to you that our health workers are renewed in energy, passion, commitment and focus. They are currently at the top of their efforts, battling to save lives and working to reduce the casualty number.

As political activities towards the end of tenure governorship elections commence in full swing in the state, Government is not unmindful of the potentials of campaign activities on the ongoing spread of the Virus. Already, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC has discouraged crowd based campaign activities for political parties. It has suggested the use of traditional media and the New Media as safer platforms of engagement.

To this end, leaders of political parties, participating in the oncoming elections are hereby admonished to adhere strictly to these guidelines in order to assure safety and good health for our people. We are also advised to restrict ourselves to relevant campaign issues, and not overheat the polity with desperate utterances, publications and actions capable of unimaginable effect.

I do not believe the life of anyone in the state is worth a dirty struggle for office. It must be noted that elections and the results obtained thereof are only meaningful to an existing, safe and healthy society where peace and prosperity reign.

My dear people, in spite of the vicissitude of the times, I wish tell you that I am unshaken in my conviction and faith in our ability to overcome this pandermic. I urge us all to act responsibly, deepen our prayers for divine intervention and perfect healing for our state.

Let me end this short address by announcing a few adjustments in Government. As you are aware, the Secretary to the State Government Hon. Ifedayo Abegunde resigned his appointment this morning. His resignation has since been accepted. We wish him good luck in his future endeavours. In furtherance to this, I hereby announce Mr. Tayo Oluseye Oluwatuyi, from Akure as the new Secretary to Government. Tayo Oluwatuyi was until his elevation the Honourable Commissioner for Natural Resources.

Similarly, I have nominated Mr. Idowu Otetubi as state commissioner. Otetubi is an accomplished chartered accountant and politician from Akure, Akure South Local Government. His name will be forwarded to the House of Assembly for confirmation immediately.

My dear people, I thank you for listening and may God bless our dear Ondo state and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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