Partial or Total Lockdown: Nigerians appeal to Government for Palliative Measures

Partial or Total Lockdown: Nigerians appeal to Government for Palliative Measures

It is now a reality that Nigeria is undergoing or experiencing the first lockdown post-military era. What could be said to be close to this present experience was the 1993 June 12 brouhaha. Then, the major theatre of war then was Lagos and other South western states. However, the COVID 19 is no respecter of geographical locations and spread. On Monday, the President, Muhammadu Buhari announced lockdown in Lagos, Ogun and Abuja. However, some states too have announced either partial or total lockdown. Kwara State is a North Central state which shares border lines with Ekiti, Osun and Ondo states. 

It was the first state to lock down totally banning intra and inter-state transportation. This was followed by both Ekiti and Osun States after the two states recorded one and two confirmed cases of the virus respectively. As this report is collated, Osun State has recorded three more cases. For Ekiti State, the movement restrictions take effect from 11:59pm on Monday, 31 March, 2020 while Osun stipulated that a total lockdown of the state would commence on early Wednesday morning.

Expectedly, people are the ones who are going to feel the impact of the stay at home order by governments at both federal and local levels. Analysis has shown that a larger percentage of the people rely on daily income. This implies that when they do not go out, they do not have the resources to take care of their daily needs. Opinions sampled across the states on how people have been coping with the partial and the planned total lockdown. Mr. Abdurrahman Okunade is an Osogbo-based lawyer. He is the Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, Osogbo Chapter. For him the restriction has economic implications.He said “Many forthcoming engagements have been disrupted, thereby causing losses. And any further planning is now impossible. Being a self-employed person, staying at home is very difficult. For a salary earner, something is certain in terms of income at the end of the month, in spite of the lockdown. But for me, no. 

I have bills to pick, but I have no autonomic source of income. Yet, I fear for my health. I need to interact with my clients to earn a living, yet I need to be wary of close interaction with people in order to live.” Abolaji Khadijah is a trader. She sells at the popular Igbona Market in Osogbo. The song on her lips too is about how the lockdown would affect her in terms of her income. When asked what the lockdown means to her, she explained  “I am a trader who relies on daily income as I have a weekly contributory scheme I have to fulfil and when I do not go out to the market, there is no way to fulfil such. It will affect me greatly during and after the lockdown.”

Omolola Oluwasola is a lecturer at the Department of Mass Communication, Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti in Ekiti state. Her concern was majorly the artisans and those whose income is based on a daily basis. She posited “we have a problem of inadequate or no stimulus in some states at all in Nigeria unlike what obtains in the United States and other countries where palliative measures are being put in place. In the absence of palliative provisions, what happens to artisans and citizens who cannot feed daily if they do not go out?”, She asked. However, her concern was addressed by the Ekiti State Government that announced a relief package for the most vulnerable in the society. She also ruled the spike in the cost of living as she looks forward to staying at home. She said “Again, because we do not have a functional system, our staying at home means we are operating our finances at a minus, you have to power your electricity with generator by yourself to be up-to-date with global news and to take necessary precautions, store up your household with foodstuffs and other essentials.”

For Abideen Olasupo, a young serial entrepreneur in Ilorin, Kwara State, the lockdown was long overdue and he understood the government’s reluctance to declare it because of the state of the economy. He called for palliative measures for those that would bear the consequence of the lockdown especially those who operate at the lowest rung of the ladder.  He feared the increase in consumption of data used for various purposes during the lockdown.

Oyeyemi Olatunnji is a banker residing in Lagos. He is of the opinion that the lockdown is changing perception of work generally. He noted that ‘we have been asked to work from home from the office. This morning I was in a meeting with colleagues via zoom. It didn’t feel like we were at work.” He observed that the lockdown might not be easy for a larger percentage of Lagosians who stay in their large number in apartments. He said maintaining social distancing might not be an easier task.

Adedolapo Bakare is a lady painter based in Lagos. To her, the lockdown is a necessary approach by the government to be able to manage the pandemic in the country. However, it is affecting her business seriously. She said “my kind of business is such which requires my physical presence  and time meeting with clients and visiting sites for assessment and commencement of projects. Since the lockdown, my hands have been idle and this sure hasn’t been easy.” She said the lockdown is really affecting her business but since the lockdown is a necessary evil affecting all sectors of life, she has to abide.

As many of the states in Nigeria go on total lockdown, the dilemma for many decision makers in those states is what to provide the citizens as a palliative in the midst of a significant drop in productivity and oil price. Whether Nigerians would be able to weather storms is a matter of time.

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