Lamentations in South East as pains from lockdown bite harder

Lockdown in Enugu

By Benprince Ezeh

As the nation awaits the new two-week lockdown proposed by the Nigerian Governors Forum, NGF, many people in the South East say that the extension of the lockdown will further compound their pains. The NGF, which rose from the teleconference meeting during the week recommended a two-week interstate lockdown.

The Chairman of the NGF and the Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, said after the meeting that only essential services would be permitted during the period. Local media reports said that the governors were briefed on the rapidly evolving situation of the COVID-19 pandemic and coordination efforts with the federal government, multilateral and bilateral partners, and the private sector through the Coalition against COVID-19, CACOVID. Kayode disclosed that the virus has spread to over 25 states with increasing evidence of community transmission and that the governors endorsed decentralisation of the COVID-19 response as the best way of containing the spread of the virus in the communities.

But before that meeting, many people in the region, especially Enugu were already lamenting the daily hardship they go through because of the lockdown in the state. There are rumours that some youths are contemplating to protest against the hardship they are going through because of the lockdown and their inability to go out and engage in economic activities.

They also complain of the high cost of food in Enugu town and around the state and that they are not happy with lack of palliatives from the state government. Kingsley Enenta, a fashion designer in Enugu state complained that many of the clothes he made for people have not been paid for nor collected because of the lockdown. “Due to the lockdown, many of the clothes that are supposed to be used for some events, which have been suspended till further notice. We are not sure when the lockdown would be lifted,” he said.  It is now difficult for me to take care of my personal needs due to lack of funds and the government has not done anything or show concern about the situation at hand,” he said.

Okechukwu Ugwumgbo, a Cyber Café owner said that people hardly come to his café because of the lockdown. “Prior to the lockdown, I have at least 50-60 customers daily, but now I barely have five customers. This is a sharp drop from what I record before the pandemic, so it has been difficult for me and my family.

“We urge the government to make provision for food and things necessary for sustenance of the people in this difficult time no matter how little it would be,” Ugwumgbo said.

For Izuchukwu Eze, a trader in Enugu, food and other items are so expensive to the extent that people don’t really come to the market anymore. “I still have stocks that I bought a month ago, and most of them are perishables and a big loss to me.

“And to even get new stocks is not possible because the cost of things now are twice if not thrice the cost of what I have been buying them. With this, customers assume we take advantage of the lockdown, which I was accused of making food stuffs more expensive,” Eze said.

The difficulties are not just limited to Enugu state. In neighbouring Anambra state, the people are complaining of the same hardship because of the lockdown and the absence of palliatives from both the federal and state governments.

A trader in Onitsha, who simply wants to be identified as Chima, said that the lockdown had recorded two deaths and it’s not a good sign in a peaceful state like this state. “It was a protest, but unfortunately it led to the shooting of a young boy of 20 right in front of New Tyre Market Nkpor near Onitsha a week ago. The police shot sporadically and two persons lost their lives. While one died instantly, the other was rushed to the hospital, but he gave up the ghost before they could get to the hospital,” he said.

According to him, the state government should give days for markets to open in some areas so that the people would get food items to sustain them and their families. “We are suffering from lack of food and medical facilities in my area, you don’t go out, and then where would you get food for your family. I don’t want to be killed because I am moving around looking for where to get food for my family. The government should help us and make provision for our basic amenities,” Chima said.

In Ebonyi State, Ogbonna said that a dusk to dawn curfew has been imposed in the state by the state governor as part of efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the state. “We are talking about lack of food and the so called funds the government promised, but our governor is imposing curfew in the state from 7pm to 7am. This is even the time to go out and get things for the upkeep of the family because you dare not come out of your house or face police brutality.

“We are hungry and dying, our children are getting sick and the markets and medical shops cannot be easily accessed because of the lockdown. The government should do something about these to avoid deaths arising from hunger,” he said.

– Apr. 25, 2020 @ 10:25 GMT |

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