FILE: Empty Streets in Lagos

It may be irresponsible and ignorant to dismiss the threat of the Coronovirus pandemic and also unthinkable to dispute the hard economic toll it has taken on humanity, especially in the developing world where the greater population survive on daily income.

Nigeria as well as other African countries are not left out of the Coronavirus scare, as the infection cases continue to rise daily.
While experts attribute the delay in closing Nigeria border to the spread of the virus in the country, the Federal Government’s response when the index case was diagnosed on an expatriate was swift and commendable.
Be that as it may, the pandemic and the concomitant restrictions have compelled Nigerians to battle with many challenges as the larger population live on daily earnings.

At the outbreak of the virus in Nigeria, billions of naira were pledged by the federal government, multinationals, industries, companies, religious bodies as well as individuals to cushion the effect of the virus on the masses, the health and other sectors of the economy.
However, in the last two-weeks, Nigerians have continued to groan over lack of transparency in the disbursement of palliative supposedly meant for the masses.
While the people are readily prepared to oblige the sit-at-home order by the federal and state governments, statement of ‘distrust’ on the palliatives permeates the air.
‘Man go die one day, either by Coro or Hunger’ filled their lips.

Meanwhile, stormed the streets of Lagos, Abuja and other states which had the full backing of the lockdown to feel the pulse of the people. Residents lamented neglect of the authorities.

The popular saying on the lips of Nigerians was that the worst will be death, however it comes one must have to accept. This saying may pose risk of the spraed on the spread in the country as Nigerians are crying of hunger and neglect.

Our survey includes Lagos, Abuja and Warri.

Residents who spoke to lamented the impact of the lockdown on their livelihood appealing to government to come to their aid by providing support to cushion the effects of the stay-at-home order.

Columbus Arase, who resides in Isase community of Ojo Local Government (LGA), said: “It is painful that in other climes, government made provision for their people, but here, nobody is thinking of helping out. It is very unfortunate. Do you know that there are some persons that do not have N500 before this lock-down order and they have children? How do you expect them to survive two weeks without food? It is terrible.”

Another resident, a retired federal civil servant, Michael Ono said: “Pensioners are the worst hit by this lockdown. Where do I get money to stock food for myself and my household? Government has failed in its responsibility to look after the aged in the society and it is a sad situation.”

Njoku Amechi, a trader, and a resident of Isasi said: “We all will like to remain at home to stay safe from the pandemic, but on what ground would a trader who will spend his principal and profit in two weeks to feed the family? Where will I get enough money to fill my shop if I am spending what I have to feed my family in two weeks? That is why you see me here, waiting for customers.”

Also lamenting, Mrs.Oyema at Ile-Epo community, along Lagos-Badagry Expressway, said business is bad as customers stayed indoors in compliance with the lock-down.

“I came outside to trade as well as look for my daily bread for the family. Unfortunately, I have been outside but with little or no patronage.

“The only businesses operating are those street sellers. The fear of the military personnel patrolling the areas might have prevented more Nigerians from coming out.

“We appeal to the Federal Government to make provisions for the common man who cannot afford things and survive this lock-down.”

Still in Lagos, residents of Iba new site and environs in Ojo Local Government Area (LGA) of Lagos State complied with the lock-down order of the Federal Government as most business activities around that axis were grounded to a halt.

The few provision shops and stores that opened for business are those owned by people who also reside in the same property.

However some petrol stations were opened for business while patronage by consumers has been on the increase as power supply has declined considerably.

While there was little or no vehicular movement on the Lagos-Badagry expressway, police officers were seen at various locations questioning motorist on the road.

In Surulere, businesses situated in the Surulere area of Lagos State were closed yesterday in compliance to the lockdown order of the Federal Government.

There was also full compliance by commercial banks as none of the banks opened for business. Though the banks’ Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) were functional, few or no customers were observed using the ATMs in most of the banks visited.

A visit to the usually busy Adeniran Ogunsanya Shopping mall revealed that full compliance with the exception of food section and a pharmacy store which opened for business. Also some eateries opened for business but with very low patronage.

At the Ijeshatedo axis of Surulere, the police were seen enforcing the stay at home order as some youths were seen on some streets playing football, while major shops and businesses were closed.

The police chased youths playing games on the streets; saying that gathering of people of more than 25 is not permitted in Lagos State.

Meanwhile, there was low vehicular movement from the Ijesha bus stop to Mile 2 bus stop on the Apapa Oshodi Expressway. Though there were some private vehicles, tankers and trailers plying the road, no commercial vehicles were seen as at 2pm when this report was filed in.

A visit to the usually busy Adeniran Ogunsanya Shopping mall revealed that full compliance with the exception of food section and a pharmacy store which opened for business. Also some eateries opened for business but with very low patronage.

Also, there were low vehicular movements from the Ijesha bus stop to Mile 2 bus stop on the Apapa Oshodi express way.

Abuja residents lament lock-down effects

Meanwhile, residents of Nnyanya, a suburb of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT Abuja, observing the lock-down ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari, following the coronavirus outbreak in the country, yesterday lamented the effect of staying at home.

The ever-busy Nyanya-Mararaba Road which leads to Abuja metropolis and Keffi, in Nasarawa State, was almost empty as only a handful of vehicles and tricycles, otherwise known as Keke, were seen plying the road.

Nyanya and Mararaba markets were not left out as only a few persons selling foodstuffs were seen. Traders selling items other than essential commodities were not allowed to open shops.

Security men, comprising men of the Nigeria Police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, Federal Road Safety Corps were seen at various check points on the road.

The security personnel were seen enforcing the stay-at-home order and checking the identities of the few persons who were seen driving on the road.

Hotels, bars, restaurants, among other social event centres, were seen without activities but this was not so in some interior parts of the area as most places selling foods and alcoholic drinks were seen operating, with people patronising them.

Shops located along the highway were shut as their owners stayed at home to observe the lock-down order. It was not different at Kugbo Mechanic Market as traders stayed at home.

Mr Romanus Anya, a spare parts dealer at the market but who was seen at the entrance of the market, lamented that life was hard for him and his family, given that he did not save to prepare for the stay-at- home order.

He faulted government for not informing people well ahead of time on its plan, so people could stock their houses with food items.

“I was not prepared for this because I emptied my pocket just a day to the closure of this market. I used all my money to stock my shop without saving anything. If I had known that we would face this, I wouldn’t have done this,” he lamented.

Another Nyanya resident, Patrick Ibiàm, who deals in second-hand clothes, said that life was gradually becoming unbearable for him and his family in the few hours the lock-down had lasted.

He wondered how he would survive with his family, if the lock-down was observed beyond one week.

“We appeal to government to cushion the effect of this hardship by providing palliatives for the citizens.

“We appeal to President Muhammad Buhari to borrow a leaf from the President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, who had since rolled out palliatives for US citizens,” he added.

FG’s clarion call

It would be unwise to put the Federal Government’s effort to waste if maximum compliance is not achieved in the fight to contain the deadly Coronavirus.

But for this to be achieved, Nigerians are calling on the federal and state governments to ensure that transparency is achieved in the distribution of relief material to sustain the masses while it observed the sit at home policy.

Also, Nigerians are calling for support with the management of the power companies on adequate supply of electricity in times like this; insisting that money was not available to sustain the fueling of generators.