By Zaynab Oyedeji
He heaved as he walked. Mr Ali knew things would be tough as soon as the lockdown was announced but never, not even in his most pessimistic moment did he think it would turn out worse than he imagined. He heaved. He remembered how his wife Rahmat begged him for some money with which they could use to refill their gas cylinder and her facial expression when he suggested switching to charcoal to make meals henceforth but where would he even get the money from?
Every breadwinner has a story to tell about the feelings that accompany making money available for family’s upkeep.
The pandemic came as a surprise to all. A new normal forcing everyone to bend to its reality.
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a highly transmittable viral infection caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome which broke out in Hunan seafood market in Wuhan city of China. It has affected more than 22.8 million people with more than 14.6 million recoveries and more than 797,000 deaths around the world according to John Hopkins University data.
Its common symptoms include fever, dry cough, headache, shortness of breath, etc. There is no vaccine to build immunity against the virus yet but to contain it, studies showed that lockdown and physical distancing measures would help, including regular hygiene and other guidelines by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Countries around the globe complied with these directives and desired results are seen to an extent. Nigeria is no exception, the country went into total lockdown in late March and after some weeks, it was eased gradually. Citizens complained at first but got used to the situation because it’s the NEW NORMAL to save lives and curb the spread.
Is COVID-19 a hoax?
On a normal work day, the streets of Keke Agege local government burst with the blare of car horns, yells of street vendors, students going to school, workers going to their respective places to earn their daily bread, but here comes the weird turnaround following the lockdown. Few people are seen on the streets as they only go out when need be. The constant stay-at-home messages from the media are just too loud to ignore.
Despite some citizens disbelieving in the reality of the virus, some become too paranoid to ignore the virus.
“He had high temperature for a few days. Thinking it was malaria, he went to hospital to complain about it. He was isolated while malaria and COVID-19 tests were being conducted to be on a safer side but unfortunately, he was COVID positive. His treatment began immediately and he later recovered from the virus”. Mr Oyedepo, a Technical Operator at Unilever PLC narrated.
Mrs Riziqatu Raji, a fashion designer held the same view as Mr Oyedepo, given the fact that she had lost three people to the virus. Other residents believe the virus is real too but aren’t sure if the number of confirmed cases are true.
The Lockdown has affected a lot of businesses in the local government, forcing many people to leave their homes with or without search for daily needs.
“As a person, I don’t like sitting at home. We are dealing with students where I work and since we all have to stay at home, things aren’t how they used to be. Classes were moved online but there is not active participation and the students aren’t forthcoming because they complained about not having data and a few other constraints”. A technologist at Federal college of Education Technical Yaba, Mrs Abdulkareem Rahmat said.
Mr Oyedepo said that the lockdown isn’t affecting them directly in Unilever Nigerian PLC because provisions are made for workers at his workplace but indirectly, it affects the company’s suppliers at the peak of lockdown as they aren’t able to provide raw materials but with its easing, things have gotten better.
“Prices from wholesalers are high and customers aren’t forthcoming”. Mrs Adefenwa, a retail provision seller complained.
A sophomore at the University of Ilorin, department of Home economics and Food science, Miss Aisha said; “Classes are more interesting when its physical than when its virtual”.
Protection against the virus Citizens across the country abides by the guideline of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). Keke Agege local government aren’t left out as residents constantly wash their hands, avoid crowded places, practice social distancing, use face masks if they need to go out and any other protective measures.
A good side to everything
As a fashion designer, Mrs Raji deals mostly in ceremony and school outfits but since schools are closed and ceremonies cancelled, she said: “I had to result to making and selling of face masks to support myself and my kids. In addition, customers and friends are assisting with aids”.
“I am able to discover my talents and build myself. The lockdown has taught us all one thing, and that is having another means of livelihood and not depend on someone or your job to survive”. Miss Aisha added.
As a civil servant, Mrs Abdulkareem said the Federal government pays her salary in full so she is able to support her family but it can’t be compared to periods before lockdown when they go out on the field to work.
“My salary is paid in full so there isn’t much constraint”. Mr Oyedepo said.
The federal and state governments are trying their best to save its citizens from the pandemic while putting their sustenance in mind. Support palliatives are delivered to these residents once a week (Aliko Dangote Foundation) to assist them during these times.
Keke Agege’s residents are worried sick. ‘When are we going to return to our normal lives?’ is the expression written on their faces. But, In spite of their fears, they still showed generosity and empathy to one another.
Like an American singer-songwriter, Michael Jackson once said:
“Healing the World is not an Individual Responsibility but a Collective Responsibility”.