COVID-19: Mixed Reactions trail lockdown in Lagos, Abuja, other states


Despite the mixed reactions that have trailed the lockdown of Lagos, Ogun, Abuja and some other states of the federation, many Nigerians are complying with “the stay at home” order and are full of expectations that the federal and state governments will fulfill their pledges of providing palliatives to cushion the effects of the lockdown on their well being

By Anayo Ezugwu

THE lockdown imposed by the federal government on Lagos, Abuja, and Ogun State has thrown up the challenges of lack of electricity, paucity of funds to buy food and other necessities of life to last for the duration of the lockdown. However, many Nigerians are striving to cope with these challenges and hoping that the both the federal and state governments will provide some palliatives to cushion the effects of the lockdown on their welfare.

Some Logosians, who spoke to Realnews, complained that they do not have the money that will last them for two weeks, saying that the two-week duration is rather too long for them to cope. Daniel Onwuchekwa, company driver, complained bitterly on the challenges of staying at home. “My daughter on Wednesday night told me that some food items she bought last Saturday have finished and that we needed to replace them. “I tried to explain to her that the salary they paid me since March 26 has finished and that I only have my transport fare for the month. And her reply was, daddy bring the money we have to feed first before you resume work. I’m completely lost on how my family is going to survive this period. Everybody is at home just eating, sleeping and eating. “People are hungry and they don’t have money to feed. Please, you people should help us tell the government that they need to assist us with food items and money if we have to stay at home,” he said.

A trader at Ajuwon market, who gave her name as Faith, said her problem was not the virus, but hunger. “If I am not able to go out and sell, how will the family survive? It is hunger I am worried about, not the virus. If I stay home, we will die of hunger; if I come out to hustle, you say I will die of coronavirus. There is nothing we have not seen and we are still here, we shall survive this one. But thank God government has said we can now open from 10 am to 2 pm. At least we will make small sales to enable us see money to feed our families,” she said.

Chidimma Okolo, a businesswoman, explained that it has not been easy for her family in the last two days of the lockdown. “I haven’t been coping at all, but it is a sacrifice I must make for myself, family and the community at large. I need to stay at home with my family to help reduce the spread of the virus as well as prevent contracting the deadly virus.

“This period is to maintain total personal and environmental hygiene. Hand washing, mopping of the floors and all surfaces continuously is of paramount importance at this time. Also, encouraging the children to maintain total hygiene, especially when you have teenagers at home, who get bored easily, is important. This is the time to show love to ourselves and pray to God to have mercy on us and our land. But in terms of surviving, it has been difficult. How do you want me to survive when you have prohibited me from opening my business?”

Another concerned resident, Abbey Abiodun, a drycleaner, complained of the economic impact of the lockdown on his family. “Coping with the lockdown is not easy for me because government has crippled my business. Nobody is patronizing me again. Even the clothes already washed, the owners have refused to come and collect them. So how do you want me to feed my family? I even sent messages to my customers that I will be working from home, but no man will give clothes to wash when his wife is free at home,” he said.

Despite the numerous complaints by some Nigerians on the lockdown, some others see the lockdown as an opportunity to rest and reunite with the family. But the question is, how long will this good period last for them? However, Blessing Amah, hair stylist, is one those, who see this lockdown as a period to rest and take care of the family.

She is very happy with the president’s directive because it is a compulsory rest period for her, which she had been longing for in the last four years. “As for me, I’m enjoying myself. My job now is to sleep, wake up, eat, shower, rest and watch movies.

“So, my family and I have been coping very well. I intend to keep my family safe all through this period by adhering strictly to the rules and regulations guiding the spread of the virus, which include staying at home in order to be safe, regular washing of hands and proper hygiene, avoiding unnecessary outings or gatherings, avoiding shaking hands with people, the use of hand gloves and face masks, preventing visitors from coming into the house and to crown it all, making provisions for all necessary household needs such as foods and drinks to prevent death by hunger,” she said.

Amah is not alone in applauding the lockdown across the country. Kemi Julius, businesswomen, is also happy over the compulsory holiday. She acknowledged that this is the time to be with her children and attend to their needs as a mother. “We are coping very fine. We are also observing the rules and regulations as regards staying at home and other hygienic instructions given by the government.

“More importantly, we have been praying and worshipping God because we know that worship brings down the presence of God and in a moment like this, that is what we all need because no disease can stand the presence of God. We have also been engaged with teaching the children the importance of obeying God’s principle and government’s orders.  They have been asking me a lot of questions about what is going on and I am so glad that I have the time to enlighten them about the situation of things in Nigeria in general and the world at large,” she said.

To make matters worse, the Agriculture Bureau Association of Nigeria, ABAN, is worried that the country is at risk of a food crisis. Suleman Dikwa, coordinator, ABAN, said the inability to act could lead to a food crisis, which will be unprecedented in the history of the country.

In a statement, Dikwa said that failure to act could result in food shortage for a large part of the population, including extreme inflation of food prices and massive food waste. “Having worked with farmers across all of Nigeria’s regions, food manufacturers and exporters, we believe it is time to organise ourselves to avoid a crisis in the food supply of our nation. This is an opportunity to bring key stakeholders to the table to rationalise activities and keep the food chain flowing,” he said.

But the federal government has directed that food markets in Lagos, Ogun and the FCT would be allowed to open daily for four hours, from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. This was contained in the guidelines released for the implementation of the lockdown policy approved by President Muhammadu Buhari to curtail the spread of coronavirus in the country.

According to the document released by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja on Wednesday, April 1, as part of the measures to enforce social distancing and limit the spread of the coronavirus. This order is to cushion the effect of hunger and eventual food crisis in the country.

Be that as it may, the 14-day lockdown is a hard pill for many Nigerians, who depend on what they can earn daily for their feeding and welfare. According to available statistics,  three quarters of Nigerians make their living in the informal sector. This number comprises the construction site labourers, market stall traders, handymen and taxi drivers. And for these people, life is becoming even harder than they have experienced in the past. Small, Medium and Micro-sized Enterprises, SMMEs, are the bedrock of the Nigerian economy.

These notwithstanding, the psychological effects of being on a compulsory lockdown are real. Screaming of children, potential conflict between spouses and a house full of people, who are used to spending a few hours a day at home, are now compelled to stay at home together for 24 hours, 7 days a week for 14 days are unimaginable to most residents of Lagos.

– Apr. 3, 2020 @ 18:55 GMT |

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