Security personnel had their hands full at the entrance to the Oyo State Secretariat, Ibadan, as about 3,000 civil servants on grade level 13 and above resumed work on Monday.
Governor Seyi Makinde, had last Friday, cut short the five weeks COVID-19 induced break when he asked senior workers to resume.
With entrance into the Secretariat restricted to only the main gate, there was a high volume of traffic at the entry point as security personnel had to screen entrants to ensure that only workers on grade level 13 and above gained entry.
Both persons on foot and in their cars had to show proof of their identity and why they should be granted access into the state secretariat.
In line with the state government’s directive on wearing face masks in public, a good number of workers also wore face masks.
Some, however, said they looked forward to receiving some of the one million face masks promised by the state government.
As part of other COVID-19 measures of the state government for instructing the resumption, there were handwashing facilities at some strategic entrances within the state secretariat.
Some of the civil servants, in their various conversations, noted that the screening measures put in place by the state government were not out of place to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
Speaking earlier on a Fresh FM programme, tagged “COVID-19 situation room”, Makinde had noted that the reopening of the state secretariat was critical to keep the economy of the state running.
Aside from federal allocation, Makinde noted that the running of the state’s economy was highly dependent on the state secretariat functioning.
Noting that the state was not oblivious of the consequences of asking workers to return to work amid COVID-19, Makinde expressed confidence that the state’s protocols for entering the secretariat were enough to keep the workers and work environment safe.
“We have to strike a balance between the physical health of the people of Oyo State and the economic health of the state.
“The Oyo State economy, for now, is highly dependent on the secretariat functioning. This is a civil servants’ state and that is why we have asked a few workers to resume so as to keep the secretariat functional.
“But we have also put protocols in place to ensure that they work safely. The normal population for the Secretariat is about 15,000 to 20,000 people but we asked only 3,000 of them to resume.
“I was reading in the Nigerian Tribune the comment of my very good friend, Professor Adeolu Akande that we should not reopen the secretariat and that the senior cadre of workers may not be able to function without the junior cadre of workers.
“The bottom line is we paid staff salaries on the 24th of this month and those payments were processed by some people.
“They had gone to the office to ensure that the vouchers were prepared and approved on time.
“So you have to keep the economy going and strike a balance between the economic health and physical health of the people. This is based on us engaging with the experts.
“The senior workers will have to manage without their junior colleagues. That is part of the sacrifices that we all need to make at this time.
“We have put certain protocols for workers coming into the secretariat. Only the main gate will be used.
“Visitors will only be allowed when it is absolutely necessary. We are confident about the measures we have put in place,” Makinde said.