The All Progressives Congress in Akwa Ibom State has queried the state governor, Prof Ben Ayade over the government’s position on the compulsory use of face masks before movement in any part of the state.
The party said in a statement by its spokesman, Bassey Ita, that the way and manner the government was going about the face mask production and distribution plans left much to be desired.
The statement said: “Our attention has been drawn to a recent press release credited to the State Government and signed by Christian Ita, Chief Press Secretary and Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to Governor Ben Ayade which announces among other issues, the free distribution of preventive face masks and other items to Cross Riverians in the wake of the aggressive spread of the Coronavirus scourge in the country.
“While the said release in its third paragraph mentions the mass production and free distribution of the items from the Garment Factory, the fourth paragraph however declares that where the said items are not enough for distribution to the people of the state they should buy from available or nearby shops.
“As a party with the consideration for public good, we are particularly disturbed about the state government’s handling of the situation in the state. Our consideration stems from certain obvious anomalies observed in the handling of the precautionary measures including the mask production process and distribution strategies.
“For emphasis, let’s point out that the face mask as recommended by the Federal Government through the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) is a highly treated and medicated equipment that has a value addition to the prevention measure against the virus.
“To the extent that issues surrounding the ownership of the Garment Factory is still in dispute, the quality of the mask produced by the factory as it relates to the standards approved by the relevant Medical or Health authorities is seriously in doubt.
“We are aware for instance that the masks are to be used prescriptive of the medical conditions of the user. What this means is that the users of the masks vary their use of the mask depending on when and what prescriptions apply to them.
“As there are two sides to the mask, users are supposed to use the two sides at different times for instance; that is before and after a certain time of usage. Incidentally too, we are still doubtful of the free distribution of the items to Cross Riverians following paragraph 4 of the Government Press Release which declares that where the items are insufficient, members of the public should purchase them from nearby shops.
“In our consideration, this speaks of the mercantilist disposition of the state government. We see a complete commercialization of the items which is a far deviation from the initial promise of free distribution of the said items.
“We are also afraid that our China- hobnobbing Governor could possibly be depending on some Chinese interest in the mass production of the items. This may therefore imply that capitalist considerations may be at the centre of such production.
“This however has raised doubt of its feasibility as much as throw up questions from public sentiments. One question is about the standard and authenticity of the products from China where the Governor has sunk in valuable investment for some economic gains.
“We are asking Cross Riverians to be vigilant regarding the items distributed to them for the prevention of the dreaded Convid-19 in the state. Our fears are that the items may be inferior; short of the prescribed medical approvals and may therefore render more harm than good to the users.”