After months of total lockdown occasioned by the dreaded coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic across the world including Nigeria, the Rivers State government led by Governor Nyesom Wike has approved the reopening of universities, other tertiary institutions, as well as secondary and vocational schools in the state, with effect from Monday, October 5, 2020.
Our correspondent gathered from top official in the state that the decision was reached at the end of an emergency State Executive Council (SEC) meeting, which held on Friday and presided over by Wike in Government House, Port Harcourt.
The Commissioner for Education, Prof. Kaniye Ebeku, who briefed journalists at the end of the meeting however explained that the council’s approval did not include primary schools. “The council approved that schools in the State reopen on the 5th of October, 2020, with only the following – all secondary schools in the state, vocational schools in the state, universities and other tertiary institutions. “For the avoidance of doubt, the council based on expert medical advice did not approve the reopening of primary schools in the state, which would await a new date in the future,” Ebeku stated.
The commissioner said the council also approved the setting up of a seven-man taskforce to monitor and enforce the compliance of COVID-19 protocols in the various schools. He said the state Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Amb. Desmond Akawor would serve as the task force Chairman, while himself (Ebeku) is the Secretary. Also, the state government approved the immediate reopening of restaurants, cinemas, and parks between 6am and 9pm daily, the Information and Communications Commissioner, Paulinus Nsirim, added.
Nsirim, however, said nightclubs, bars, the Oil Mill market as well as the slaughter market at Oginigba, both in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of the state remain closed till further notice.
Nsirim said, “Rivers State Executive Council had an emergency session to review issues concerning the COVID-19 protocols in the State. Parts of the decisions reached include that public places like parks, cinemas, and restaurants will be opened, but between the hours of 6am and 9pm daily and must comply with COVID-19 protocols.
“Nightclubs and bars remain closed. Oil Mill market and Slaughter market, Oginigba also remain closed,” the commissioner added.