Why Makinde is not showing the sort of seriousness— Teslim Folarin

“It’s either they do not understand or they do not believe it is serious, they went ahead, they disregarded all professional advice and played party politics before public safety, went on to do a rally in Mapo, I was shocked at that, now that is one example that the government does not take this thing serious.”

“Secondly, on the 30th of March, 2020, the governor through his twitter handle informed the world that he has tested positive for  COVID-19 despite showing no symptom, I was one of the few people that called him, I had no choice to call him and wished him well and he went into isolation we all know as recommended by the NCDC, shockingly six days later, the government came out of isolation centre against public safety claiming he has tested negative for the virus, I personally was shocked because the prescribed practice from the NCDC is for patients who test positive to remain in isolation for at least 14 days, now Isaac, following that the patient would then need two negative test results in order to come out of isolation, if you follow the case of the CMD of UCH, Dr. Otegbeye, who also tested positive for COVID-19 the test negative results came eight days into isolation, however, you recall, he remained in isolation until the prescribed fourteen days after which the second negative test came in form self-isolation, now you can draw your conclusions.”

“Thirdly, very important, you read about UCH saying they are not being funded by the state government, you come to a conclusion that these guys are not serious and it is very unfortunate, now, back to your question, calling level 13 officers back to work, I say it is dangerous and irresponsible.”

In a telephone conversation with Mayor Isaac Brown on Fresh FM 105.9 IBADAN monitored by Mouthpiecengr.com correspondent, the senator representing Oyo Central Senatorial district, Teslim Folarin spoke extensively on Covid-19, President Buhari latest speech, Oyo State Government and other related issues. 

Teslim Folarin made some shocking remarks in his statement about Governor Makinde and refuted claims that he has not been doing anything to support Oyo people. 

Asked why his name is not among the list of donors; folarin said, “Because Oyo state government is not showing the sort of seriousness that I expected of them”. 

Below is the full transcript: 

MAYOR: As at this morning, as far as our state is concerned we have conducted Seven hundred and Seventy test, we have twenty-one cases in all in our state, two fatalities thus far, eight active cases thus far, ten discharges thus far and one active case transferred to Lagos. I repeat, Oyo state has conducted Seven hundred and Seventy test thus far as at yesterday, we have twenty-one cases in all in our state, two deaths, eight active cases, ten discharges and one active case transferred to Lagos and is on this note, I welcome distinguished Senator live once again into our studio, Senator let’s flag it off from the national angle, yesterday, President Muhammadu Buhari’s speech to Nigerians has generated a lot of back and forth depending on which side you belong to, but basically there has been some couple of criticisms as regards the fact that some claimed, like the PDP, that they feel the speech is uninspiring, that the speech did not address critical areas when it comes to palliative and succour to Nigerians that are currently groaning under this Pandemic, they even said the speech lacks substance, you want to weigh in on this, your take on the President’s speech sir.

FOLARIN: Good morning to all, I have to be honest with you Isaac, I was a bit disappointed  with the position Mr. President took, clearly it was a political decision rather than… it stands against all logic. On the 30/3/ 2020, the first lockdown, [are you listening to me Isaac], [Isaac cuts in, I am listening to you, the world is listening to you too] we have one hundred thirty-one cases and two deaths in twelve states, the second lockdown,  14/4/2020, we have three hundred and twenty-three cases and ten deaths in twenty states, that is one hundred and forty-seven percent, if you go back to Mr. President speech, on the basis of that, he then said we had no choice to go into another two weeks lockdown, if we look at the cases as at this morning, we have one thousand, two hundred and seventy-three cases, 40 deaths in 32 states, an increase in 294 percent rise, it stands against all logic, but, let me tell you what is going on, I said it is a political decision because the state governors do not want to spend money, I do not know why, so they told Mr. President behind the scene that if you want us to lockdown then give us money, the President is not willing to give anyone money, so they put pressure on Mr. President and Mr. President fearing resistance from the populace because you cannot lockdown people without giving them palliative, if you cannot, then it does not add up, so for that reason, Mr. President allowed them to have their way yesterday, that is what I suspect, what will happen is that Mr. President will continue to look at the figures on a daily basis, we will continue to look at the figures and review the figures and by next week Monday, we will look at the figures again and if the figures are unacceptable then we may have to go down to another lockdown, we will have no choice. Like I said to you the figures have risen by 294 percent, how do you explain that, Kaduna state for instance, if you look at Governor Nasir El-Rufai, he disagrees totally, you would recall that northern governors at some said we cannot lock down the north, I think that is irresponsible, but El-Rufai disagrees and went for a 30 days lockdown. I think the key issue is palliative and education because you have to make people see this as trying to safe humanity not as punishment but a lot of government are failing in this [ Mayor cuts in Distinguished Senator, let me say this, the Group COVID-19 Situation Room which happens to be a conglomerate of civil society groups, health experts, professionals, NGOs, CSOs in Nigeria actually warned yesterday that President Buhari should not relax the lockdown already in place in critical areas and impose same on new epicentres like Kano and some other places and if we relax the lockdown it may filter away current gains at tackling the pandemic, so, what I am saying is the position of the COVID-19 situation room seem to be intertwine with what you are also advocating for, that what the President did yesterday in face of the reality of cases we have does not add up.

MAYOR: You have high level when it comes to travel history to overseas and there are talks going round, some of your members may be asymptomatic, two questions here number one, the resumption by national assemble for plenary, how true is that? number two, there are stories, if you look at what is playing out in the UK, where only twelve members are allowed in the House of Commons, all other members are to contribute via virtual, are you not worried that if all of you resume, no matter the social distancing and personal protection, there could be health problem?

FOLARIN: Well, that is a valid observation, I can only speak for myself, I cannot speak for my colleagues, I want to believe that my colleagues over the weeks have all acted responsibly, on my part, I travel a lot and one of the things I did was I ran a test and it came out negative, then a lot of my colleagues have also done so, in terms of resuming even as I speak with you, I am in the office and I intend to go straight into the chambers after this conversation. Sitting arrangement has been changed to enforce social distancing but we have to sit in the national interest because there is a 500 hundred billion stimulus package that has to be backed by the National Assembly, we cannot do that online without the maze, the maze is a symbol of the national assembly, so, it is something we have to do in national interest, but we will sit to look at these issues and see how we can move forward.

MAYOR: Distinguished Senator, still at the national assembly, there are some states in Nigeria, like Ondo and others whose elections may come very soon, the story is, if Coronavirus lingers, will the national assembly legislate on our electoral law especially  as it affects voting amendment, because people have to queue and vote. Ondo election is very much here, if this pandemic lingers, will the national assembly tinker with our electoral law. Secondly, our budget with what is playing out because of the pandemic, there are calls for budget review, the price of crude has really gone down, is this also another issue that the senate will look into sir?

FOLARIN: Talking about elections, it is one topic my colleagues and I have gone into deep discussion because it is a major area of concern. Democracy has to go on, an election was held recently in one of the Asian countries [Mayor cuts in South Korea] South Korea, exactly, and we looked at that model and it is still something we are talking about, even if it means, someone even suggested if it means doing our elections for two or three so as to enforce social distancing, for instance, there would say if you are number one to twenty, only one to twenty should come and vote, the next day another, so we are looking at all options but nothing has been decided. On the budget, yes, we have to amend the budget to take into account present realities, the price of oil has collapsed, there is no question about that and now everybody is now talking diversification, every time it collapses we talk about diversification, but we have deal with what we have today, that will be amended that I can assure you, but, back to what we were saying, it is better to take measures to contain this unseen enemy, we are playing too much politics with it, people’s lives are at stake and it is important that people come forward and say the truth as it is. I was going through one of the social media and somebody said if they asked you to bring your kids if they re-open school tomorrow, who would take their kid to school? And one woman replied………. It is as serious as that, people are dying, this is an unseen enemy that is threatening the existence of humanity. So, if we take the right measures, we will be able to solve a lot of the problem, the whole country should have been locked down, that is my take, the whole country not just Lagos, Abuja and Ogun, the whole country, if we have locked down the whole country, in the last two weeks we would have made a significant progress.

MAYOR: Still talking about the national assembly, would you support any measure (you mentioned it earlier) 500 billion naira, the idea of stimulus and bailout for critical sectors, would you vote for that?

FOLARIN: We would have to look at the details, I do not have the details, because, it has to be done in a fair manner, every state has to feel the impact of the 500 billion naira [Mayor cuts in Critical sectors, Small scale Industries] yes, they all have to feel the impact, a school of thought even say the money is not enough.

MAYOR: Can I also ask you distinguished Senator, the COVID-19 Pandemic seems to have thrown up the reality in our health sector, it has exposed the weakness in most of our social programmes, I do not even know maybe we have any one, okay,  we do have one, this cash transfer that we are experiencing, but of course there are a lot of back and forth, in a country where we do not have consensus on population, on number of poor, the poorest of the poor, we do not even know who are the vulnerable, will you say this COVID-19 Pandemic is an opportunity to address all these issues?

FOLARIN: Well, it is an opportunity for us to reset, I agree with you, but Nigeria being what we are, once a vaccine is found and everything is okay again, everyone forgets and everybody moves on, but you are absolutely right, it has not only exposed a weak health structures, it has also exposed weakness in our leadership in this country.

MAYOR: the federal government cash transfer policy is generating lot of controversies, people are saying the list that is being used was doctored, how they arrived at the list, specifically for you, you are from Oyo central, Ona-Ara is under your jurisdiction, the other time live in this studio, we were told they went to Ona-Ara to distribute money to folks, the deputy speaker was here, he said he called his people, his constituents, there were denials, will you confirm to us this morning, distinguished senator, in the whole of Oyo Central, will you say your people have been calling you to confirm they have been receiving this money?

FOLARIN: I cannot confirm or deny it, these are one of the reasons and some of the issues we want to look at when we sit because we went to see how those lists were generated, I cannot comment but maybe after today or next week I will be in a good position to speak [Mayor cuts in but you can confirm whether anybody called you in Oyo central that they have received Federal government’s money, you can confirm that one to me, I have no problem with the list]

FOLARIN :No, no, no one has called me

[Mayor cuts in No one has called you sir, the whole of Oyo central?]

FOLARIN :No, no, no one has called me Isaac but that is not to say no one has received, you know what our people like to do when they receive such money they keep quiet.

MAYOR: If you are just joining us, this Fresh FM COVID-19 Situation Room and our guest is distinguished Senator representing Oyo Central, Senator Teslim Folarin, now we are flipping back home, Oyo state, the last time we spoke, your position was that the partial lockdown in Oyo as far as you are concerned is not working and you have said earlier on this programme that you prefer total lockdown, as we speak, two deaths in Oyo, 21 cases, the governor yesterday ordered a cadre of the workforce, the senior staff, level 13 and above, just about three thousand out of fifteen thousand anyway to resume work, what do you make of that decision by Governor Makinde?

FOLARIN: Dangerous and irresponsible, quite simple [Mayor cuts in you said what?] very dangerous and irresponsible

[Mayor cuts in why would you call Governor Seyi Makinde’s decision to ask fewer numbers of the workforce to resume yesterday as dangerous and irresponsible?]

FOLARIN ; Thank you, Isaac, I need to take you back, you see I try and control myself getting involve in the running of the government of Oyo state, it has nothing to do with me, absolutely nothing do with me, people have made their choice and we have to respect it, Seyi Makinde is the governor of the state, is my governor but when it concerns the issue of health, then some of us have to speak out. In my considered opinion, it would appear the government of Oyo state either do not understand what a pandemic means or they think it is not serious. Let me give you three instances before I now answer that question, the DG of the World Health Organisation, officially characterised COVID-19 a pandemic on the eleventh of March, 2020, at that time the world has over one hundred and eighteen thousand cases in 114 countries, 4291 people have lost their lives, it is at a time was the world first pandemic caused ny corona virus, Nigeria has its first case of the virus of the 27th, the index case on the 27th of February, 2020, on 18th March, 2020, a week after WHO’s pandemic declaration and three weeks after Nigeria’s first index case, the government of Oyo state has you well know, I am sorry to go back to this, I need to make this point to make people understand why I think it is either they do not understand or they do not believe it is serious, they went ahead, they disregarded all professional advice and played party politics before public safety, went on to do a rally in Mapo, I was shocked at that, now that is one example that the government does not take this thing serious. Secondly, on the 30th of March, 2020, the governor through his twitter handle informed the world that he has tested positive for  COVID-19 despite showing no symptom, I was one of the few people that called him, I had no choice to call him and wished him well and he went into isolation we all know as recommended by the NCDC, shockingly six days later, the government came out of isolation centre against public safety claiming he has tested negative for the virus, I personally was shocked because the prescribed practice from the NCDC is for patients who test positive to remain in isolation for at least 14 days, now Isaac, following that the patient would then need two negative test results in order to come out of isolation, if you follow the case of the CMD of UCH, Dr. Otegbeye, who also tested positive for COVID-19 the test negative results came eight days into isolation, however, you recall, he remained in isolation until the prescribed fourteen days after which the second negative test came in form self-isolation, now you can draw your conclusions. Thirdly, very important, you read about UCH saying they are not being funded by the state government, you come to a conclusion that these guys are not serious and it is very unfortunate, now, back to your question, calling level 13 officers back to work, I say it is dangerous and irresponsible. We do know the situation of things in Oyo state, now, they have started testing in Adamasigba which is quite commendable, you have to commend them when they do the right thing even though they need to ramp up more of those testing, but you now bring, now what is the percentage of these officers and we know in civil service in Nigeria, level 13 officers cannot do much without the junior officers, not all them have cars, they get into a bus, get infected, go back to their families and infect their families [Mayor cuts in ; the governor was clear that senior staff without cars should stay indoors, only those with cars should come to work] it does not matter, when you leave your homes and come to work, you expose yourself to all sorts of exposures, you would never know who you will come across [Mayor cuts in so you are saying calling those cadres back to work yesterday can only exacerbate or spike the pandemic] when you are dealing with such pandemic, it is better to assume the worst. Every day I pray we do not get a spike, I pray we have reached the plateau which I know we have not, I pray every morning, but, what I am saying is we must protect lives [Mayor cuts in so you are completely averse to the decision to ask workers to come back to work yesterday completely] 200 percent, yes [Mayor cuts in the fact is at the national level, President Muhammadu Buhari is also relaxing lockdown, asking some categories of workers and businesses to open in most part of the country, even though you have actually spoken against that at the beginning, you do not see any link to that?] no, no, not at all and I said it was a political decision and on Sunday, Mr. President will look at the new figures and if those figures are alarming, then, he will have no choice to go back to the lockdown [Mayor cuts in do you also commend Governor Seyi Makinde?] Let me make this point Mayor, in Oyo state, we have not lockdown a single thing, now, we talk about people who have history of traveling, that is not the problem, the problem is community transmission, now, a trader from Saki, for instance, would come to Ibadan and go to Bodija market or Sango market, get infected, go back to Saki and starts infecting people, so what we are saying is, if you lockdown for fourteen days, we would know people who are have the virus and people who are free, but because the government does not want to invest in palliative, that is the issue.

MAYOR: Are you not impressed that they want to distribute palliative to about 120 thousand households?

FOLARIN: Isaac, do not make me laugh, two months after the pandemic was declared, you are now saying we should start clapping that they want to start distributing palliative [Mayor cuts in the one from the Federal Government your party, APC were not seen here (Oyo) and there is this rice war going on that the APC federal government brought here (Oyo) were bad and arguments back and forth, will you give the state kudos that at least they want to distribute good ones?] look, we run a federal system of government, what it means is, the state governors are the chief executive of their states, so, whatever the federal government gives you is just a bonus and addition, back to the rice, I do not understand all these politics about rice or no rice, I do not get it, when it happened I put a call through the comptroller of Customs, Ibadan and she said they gave them good rice, now, I am not saying the Customs are lying or Oyo state government is lying, the point is, if they give you bad rice and you want good ones, you can place a call through to them and tell them the things you gave us are bad ones and get good ones, what is even the state government doing now [Mayor cuts in they want to distribute this week] Folarin ; after two months of the pandemic, halleluya!

MAYOR: People are also donating money, Governor Seyi Makinde was on my show yesterday, he thanked lot of good spirited citizens of the state, bodies and organisations that have contributed, according to him, 350 million, I went through the list I did not see the name of Senator Teslim Folarin there, why are you not supporting Oyo state government?

FOLARIN: I am supporting the people, I have it on record that I have done my own bit and I will still do and I am still doing [Mayor cuts in you will not donate to Oyo state government?] because Oyo state government is not showing the sort of seriousness that I expected of them

MAYOR : When are we sitting down to talk about Pakute as you promised?

FOLARIN: Yes I will come personally to your Studio Live to talk about it, I promise.

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