Seyi Makinde, governor of Oyo state, says though he made a joke about COVID-19, the disease is real.
At a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) rally held in Ibadan on March 18, the governor had said the disease is not in his party.
“They said we should not do this rally because of coronavirus. It was their leader that said coronavirus is in their party, yes or no? Have you used your hand sanitiser? There is no coronavirus in our own party,” the governor had said.
In a telephone interview with Fresh FM, a radio station based in Ibadan, on Tuesday, Makinde said he had never doubted the existence of COVID-19.
The transcript of the interview was released by the governor’s media office.
“Okay, first, you know we had a rally, I believe two weeks ago and then I have seen the video that has been circulating on social media which is being misinterpreted to mean that, I doubted at any time, the existence of COVID-19. The reality is no, I actually never did,” he said.
“I had used COVID-19 in the same metaphorical way that their APC leader did when they were fighting about their chairmanship and he said, well, the virus has gotten into the party.
“So, I made a joke out of it and the video has been circulating that I said there is no coronavirus, that it only exists in the APC. Well, it was a metaphor.
“But to the good people of Oyo State, I want to say again: COVID-19 is real. So, they must follow all the measures government has put in place to prevent, contain and control this virus.”
The governor said his administration would continue to assess the situation and take measures where necessary.
“Oyo is not going to be locked down because every other state is doing that. Yes, Lagos can be on lockdown, Ogun can be on lockdown, Oyo state, yes, people have been saying have a total lockdown and then I have been asking them questions,” he said.
“What will be the benefits here? Are there alternative courses of action for us to take? If you ask people not to come out, you lock down the market places, there are people who what they sell today – the profit from today’s activities is what they will eat tomorrow.
“There are many people like that within our environment. So, are there alternatives available to us? Can we do selective lockdowns? That’s why I imposed the curfew, to say look irin ti o ba ye ka rin.”
Makinde, who said he is yet to show symptoms of the disease after testing positive for it, added that he is still in charge of the state.
Oyo has so far recorded eight cases of the disease.