Coronavirus: Sanwo-Olu, Ayade, other public officials who have turned face masks into fashion statements

THE Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has disrupted some of the world’s largest economies, killed thousands of people, weakened the health care system of many nations but somehow, it has also improved the fashion sense of Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Governor of Lagos and Ben Ayade, Cross River State Governor.

Since the outbreak in Wuhan, China in December 2019, COVID-19, which spreads through droplets has made necessary the use of face masks and other personal protective equipment, at first for the frontliners but now for the general public.

The use of surgical face masks which started as a necessity to protect people from contracting the novel virus is gradually becoming a fashion accessory and the likes of Sanwo-Olu and Ayade are spearheading the movement in Nigeria.

Asides championing the fight against COVID-19 in their states, both governors have made headlines for embodying a new form of sensitization; by wearing fashionable face masks in a bid to encourage its use among their residents.

For Ayade, Governor of Cross River State, who is a microbiologist, the fight against COVID-19 could be won if people religiously wear face masks.

Ben Ayade – Governor of Cross Rivers wearing fashionable face masks
CREDIT: Twitter

In fact, the governor, once said there is no need to observe social distancing in preventing coronavirus, once citizens wear face masks in public.

“You don’t need social distancing when you are properly protected because for mucal gland that secretes the mucus and the mucin has already formed a network of coats that, of course, attack the virus.”And to enforce its use, he ordered that defaulters would be fined N300,000 if caught.

Ayade’s belief in the effective use of face masks has birthed the mass production of face masks made of ankara in Cross River Garment Factory in Calabar, Cross River State.



    With materials sourced from Abia State, the ankara face masks are said to be made with 100 percent cotton and are fast gaining ground in the state that is yet to record a single case of COVID-19.

    On the other hand, Lagos state which has recorded the highest number of COVID-19 (657) cases in Nigeria only just recently mandated the use of face masks.

    To encourage its use, Sanwo-Olu, the governor of Lagos State adopted the use of fancy, colourful face masks to express individuality as well as promote a cause.

    Babajide Sanwo-Olu – Governor of Lagos State wearing fancy face masks
    Photo: Twitter

    While facemasks are the ultimate symbol of protection and safety in a pandemic, its emergence as a fashion statement is gradually becoming a global phenomenon.

    Seun Durojaiye is a journalist with International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR).

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