Full transcript below:
My dear good people of Edo State, on this occasion of Eid-el-Kabir, I join our Muslim brothers and sisters to thank God Almighty for preserving and protecting us thus far.
This year, we are celebrating the Eid-el-Kabir differently because of the disruptions caused by COVID-19. This makes it more pertinent for us to reflect on the key messages of Eid which are sacrifice and penitence, which brings us blessings and hope.
As we go about with celebrations, I urge you to protect yourselves and stay safe by observing physical distancing, wearing face masks and regularly washing your hands.
COVID-19 is still very much with us and spreading rapidly in our communities. Although we have made some gains particularly as we now have a lot of data and information on the disease.
The epicentre of COVID-19 in Edo State remains the larger Benin metropolitan area, Esan West and Etsako West.
We have recorded some measure of success in managing the pandemic and protecting our people from its vicious grip, but there is still room for more improvement as we continue to refine measures to protect the vast majority of our people from the virus.
Our strategy to screen, test and treat has been acknowledged by the NCDC and the Federal Ministry of Health as one of the most coordinated and effective response by any state in Nigeria.
We have exceeded our target and have now screened over 540,000 persons and tested over 10,000 persons from our 3 testing facilities.
COVID-19 testing in Edo State is almost twice the national average. This explains why the number of confirmed cases of 2,200 is one of the highest in the country.
Sadly, we also have one of the highest death rates from COVID-19 in Nigeria. 75% of those who have died from COVID-19 are our older citizens.
This mortality rate is of serious concern to the state government, because many of these deaths could have been prevented if citizens adhered to COVID-19 prevention regulations.
I am therefore urging everyone to observe the guidelines to prevent the spread of coronavirus such as regular hand washing under running water and use of alcohol-based sanitizer; and avoiding gatherings with large number of persons.
Because of the economic and financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic , we have had to reduce our 2020 budget by 30% from N179bn earlier proposed to N128.8bn.
Despite the reduction in the budget, we would continue to meet our statutory obligation to workers and pensioners and sustain critical sectors of the economy.
Though spending on capital projects may reduce, we hope to continue to invest in critical infrastructure as part of our plan to develop a diversified and competitive post-COVID-19 economy that would serve the people and improve their livelihoods.
Political activities leading to the governorship election on September 19 have commenced. I appeal to everyone to exercise caution and observe the regulatory guidelines for prevention of COVID-19 during electioneering campaigns.
The Federal Government through the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) have issued guidelines for large gatherings and political activities this period, which must be respected.
With heightened political activities, we are witnessing very disturbing increase in the incidence of violence, vandalism and thuggery in the state.
I condemn in very strong terms the display by thugs at the gate of the Palace of the Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II, the Oba of Benin on the 25th of July, 2020. It was reprehensible and an embarrassment to the state.
Our revered monarchy represents our essence as a people for which we a very proud. We must all respect this institution and insulate it from partisan politics because it precedes us and will succeed us.
Government will not stand idle and watch thugs overrun the state, cause chaos, and go scot free, without consequences. In the same vein, the destruction of billboards and vehicles with insignia of certain political parties will not be taken lightly.
I want to thank all those who have continued to contribute to support our efforts to fight COVID-19, particularly our healthcare workers.
Barka De Salah
God bless Edo State
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria