Nigeria is gradually turning over the shock and confusion that trailed the news of the emergence of the deadly Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country. The people are now back in the social and political and political lives, pre pandemic.
Reports from across the country, show that various activities have started picking up. Businesses are now fully open up, while political and social activities are fast picking up.
Reports reaching FEFERITY MAGAZINE show that huge attendants at wedding ceremonies, funerals, and sundry landmarks’ events have resurfaced all over the country. This is contrary to the guidelines of no more than 20 persons given by the Ministry of Health and the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC).
Also the re-opening of religion worship Center’s seem to have given the people the confidence to go the whole hog in organizing full house events.
Although a visit round the some of the major events’ Center’s around Ikeja metropolis still indicate poor patronage, but they have started receiving orders, unlike when nothing was coming in at all.
The Ministry of Health and the NCDC’s strict guidelines notwithstanding, the people seem determined to brave the odds, either to defeat the plague or live with it, and continue with their daily lives unabated.
Currently, as at the time of filling this reports, the nation’s total infections figure is about 55,000 and death figure stand at a little less than 1,050.
In Lagos Island, one of the reported hot spots of the plague in the country, people have relaxed the rules and gone back to their ‘normal’ pre pandemic lives. Social gatherings are seen in all nooks and corners of the Island. Weekends, starting from Thursday run down to Sunday, are for socials, such as weddings, landmarks events and other sundry celebrations. Aside this, the regular evening frolicking around entertainments Center’s and drinking joints have resumed.
FEFERITY MAGAZINE was in the Island and we spoke with some residents. Mr. Tunde Bakare, a fashion designer in the Island said: ‘Island have picked up again. When the thing was on, everywhere was dry. We hardly have one dress to make in a week. Now the uniform for parties have started coming.’
According to Mr. Bakare what most people who lost ground to the lock down and the fear of the plague did was to reschedule their events to October, November and December. Therefore the surge in the purchases and making of ‘Ankara’ fabrics for such events in the Island.
At Nnamid Azikwe fabric market, a seller Mr. Ugo Harrison told our team that sales are now encouraging, despite the regulated market hours.
Markets selling fabrics and related stuffs are allowed to open only on Monday, Wednesday and Friday by the Lagos State Government in conjunction with the NCDC.
He lamented the ‘dryness’ occasioned by the lock down and closure of markets, but heaved a sigh of relief with the new development.
Most people spoken to however, are not too convinced about the veracity of the statistics being released by the Ministry of Health and the NCDC. Mr. Chinedu Ugbo declared plainly that ‘this thing is a scam’.
Efforts to dissuade him from his negative opinion fell on deaf ears.
At Idumota market buying and selling were in huge progress. This market serves the entire hub of West African sub-region. So also is Balogun and Oke Aarin, also in Lagos Island. Alhaja Bola Badmus told our reporter that sales have resumed fully in Oke Aarin market. She dwells in baby products and some good numbers of prospective customers were swelling around here, picking one thing or the other.
Down to Lagos Mainland area, the situation is not different. Major markets, though have to alternate opening days with foodstuffs sellers, are operating with pre-coronavirus verve and mentality.
In all the markets visited by our reporters, there none that adhere strictly with the social or physical distancing rule. Also the use of face is sparingly among sellers and buyers alike.
At the new Alade Market in Ikeja business activities have generally picked up. Virtually all the shops were opened when we visited the sprawling complex.
In all the markets visited, the water dispenser provided by the Lagos State Government look out of working order. We observed that there was no detergents and hand sanitizer containers there. There was always no one to answer our inquiries, as market officers refuse to talk to the press.
Also, most roadsides markets that dots the entire major streets of Lagos State have started bubbling with huge crowds. At Ojodu-Berger area of the State, the crowds, made up of sellers, buyers and passers-by were simply out of NCDC’s guideline. Yet that is no means of effective control in or around the area.
Even the many banks that litter the area do not have dispensable water tank, soap and alcoholic sanitizer for customers to use.
Politically, the politicians are running their shows as if the virus has been totally defeated, or was never in existent in the country. First was Edo State. Later Ondo State joined. While Edo state is scheduled to run her governorship election, next month, September 18, Ondo State will have her own later in October, all this year. Lagos State is already warming up to join the fray as she have two bye-elections to replace a later Senator and a State Legislator scheduled for November. Incidentally, the two late legislators fell to the deadly paroxysms of Coronavirus complications.
The unregulated huge crowds at the various campaign grounds, in all the areas already visited by the campaign trains, clearly defeat the guidelines of the Ministry of Health and NCDC’s of not more than 20-50 persons and maintenance of a good physical distance in public gatherings.
Mr. Nathaniel Dozie, an itinerant Jehovah Witness Evangelist, lamented to our reporter in Ojodu, Ikeja that the virus is might be far deeper than both the government and the people may think. He said he moves around a lot and that he could see some people down with strange coughs, cold and catarrh.
When reminded that this is season of such minor flu attack in the Western zone of the Country, he retorted that he ‘has been in Lagos for quite some years and so know for sure what I am saying’
He said perhaps the ‘testing structure of the government might be insufficient, as many people are ignorantly carrying the virus in the country’.
Amidst all these, the health ministry and monitoring Centre could only mumble a faint protest. No one seem to care about the complaints or listen to the health bodies and no one heard from them again.
A section of the Church however, seem determined to ridicule the plague and its effects in the country. The Bishop of the Living Faith Church, Bishop David Oyedepo said in a broadcast that he ‘only needed to [ray for over a hundred infected persons on phone, and they were all healed.’
He specifically, disagreed with the locking down of places of worships in order to stem the spread of the virus. In his league was Pastor Chris Oyhakilome of the Christ Embassy.
Not even the high profile victims and notable infected persons could deter the protagonist of the ‘no guidelines’ idea. The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi is the latest victim of the infection. Others like Mr. Segun Awolowo jnr, Dr. Doyin Okupe, Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu, his Oyo State’s counterpart, Engr. Seyi Makinde and several others have shared their infection and their individual battles for survival with the virus with the media in the recent past.
However, notable citizens like Chief of Staff to the President, Alhaji Abba Kyari, former Governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, Senator Buruji Kashamu, Senator Bayo Oshinnowo, Mrs. Musiliu Smith and a thousand others fell to the hammer of the plague. They could not survive the infection.
But while the rest of the World battle through the deadly plague, Nigerians have moved on with it. Life must continue, as the local parlance goes.
Afolayan Adebiyi writes from Lagos Nigeria
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