28 March 2020 – IITA Director-General, Dr Nteranya Sanginga has said that the Institute is strategically working towards providing support for the federal and state governments in Nigeria as well as the other countries where IITA hubs are situated, during this trying time across the world. Sanginga said this at a meeting of staff and management to announce Institute-wide measures to curb the spread of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
At the meeting, the DG also announced the partial shutdown of the Institute with effect from 30 March. This is in accordance with the government’s directive for organizations to put in place mechanisms that will support efforts to tackle the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). IITA would be operating on a skeletal schedule with a few essential members of staff to ensure that ongoing research that is key to addressing food security in Africa is not affected.
Sanginga mentioned that while staff should endeavor to follow correct precautionary measures, IITA would continue its core research function, which is important to the food security of Africa and the rest of the world. “This is why our activities have to continue as Africa’s food security is dependent on the research we do at the Institute,” he added.
A session of the meeting was dedicated to a health talk, which was delivered by Dr Samson Adeleke, Head of IITA’s Clinic. This was to further reinforce information on precautions, causes, and control measures while also increasing awareness about COVID-19 among staff while the partial shutdown is being observed.
“Handwashing and physical and social distancing are key activities that everyone is required to observe; standard handwashing should take at least 20 seconds. The use of hand sanitizers should support hand washing,” he said.
Lilian Mendoza, Head of Human Resources, highlighted the plans of the Institute during the partial shutdown. Mendoza explained that the Institute would continue critical operations with essential staff. Meanwhile, Sanginga assured all staff during the briefing that salaries will be fully paid during the shutdown.
The decision of the partial shutdown comes when IITA has decided to not only focus on protecting staff across all hubs but also to protect the research that is key to Africa’s zero hunger target and the world’s food security.