Government communication in Benue state on measures to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus disease has been scattershot. The state governor, Samuel Ortom, can’t seem to make up his mind.
What’s happening: Days after he announced the suspension of bans on religious gatherings in the state and asked workers to resume work, he reversed the decision citing safety concerns and the need to comply with the recommendations of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.
What’s he saying: Announcing the u-turn, Ortom said “we do not want to endanger the lives of our people. In the event of any challenge concerning this pandemic, the next port of call will be the federal government, so we cannot kick against its advice. We feel that the advice is genuine. If we took a decision and we have this kind of advice that is genuine and meant to support the health of our people, we have no reason whatsoever to go ahead with the decision we earlier took.”
- Benue has five confirmed cases of COVID-19, the least in Nigeria per the NCDC.
Why it matters: The covid-19 pandemic is a health and economic emergency, but also a communication emergency. Mixed messaging can have dire consequences. It leaves the people confused and uncertain. It is a good thing that the governor decided to change course following expert advise. However it would be better going forward if he factors in consultation and data before announcing action.