By Khoze Clement
The sudden outbreak of the novel Coronavirus, otherwise known as COVID- 19 in Nigeria, has undoubtedly disrupted lifestyles and routine, and imposed a ‘ New Normal ‘ on people against their wishes.
This pandemic with its devastating effects on global economy, ostensibly now determines the way things are being done.
Before the outbreak and subsequent lockdown and restrictions, Nigerians were used to waking up at cockcrow, inspite of the weather, to engage the new day with many lofty aspirations.
Even those who do not have a meaningful and well defined routine activities, at least enjoyed the unfettered social coherence and freedom to mingle, though living at the mercy of chance.
The ‘ New Normal ‘ now include, staying at home if there is nothing essential that will take you out. And even when you have to go out, you are forced to wear a face or nose mask and also maintain physical distancing.
All these were allien to the culture of Nigerian societies. But, the COVID -19 narratives have necessitated adaptation and forceful adjustments.
The realities that now stare us on the face , is how to navigate through the murky waters of this pandemic, rebuild the crumbling economy and also restore social relationships.
Going by the experts opinion from the World Health Organization (WHO) this pandemic may not end soon. According to them, the possibility of inventing a vaccine, or testing the potency of some acclaimed curative medicines, is still remote.
Even when some countries, organizations and individuals claim to have discovered some antidote to the pandemic, the prevailing global advisory is, that people cultivate good personal hygiene and also observe all the recommended health protocol cum safety measures.
Nigeria, like many other countries, has started gradual easing of the COVID-19 Lockdown after about two months. It is also expected that gradually the economy will be fully re-opened.
Following the announced gradual easing of the lockdown and partial lift on restriction of movement, by the government, people, especially those who depend on daily income for survival, have already hit the streets with unprecedented rush.
What becomes imperative now, is how to engage the process of rebuilding the economy without escalating the risk of COVID -19, especially as it has entered community transmission stage in Nigeria.
Caution cannot be thrown to the wind, as pursuit for livelihood takes the centre stage. The World Health Organization (WHO) having predicted that the pandemic cannot be easily eradicated.
Of more concerns, is the poor state of health system in Nigeria. Some analysts have already predicted a gloomy situation, should confirmed cases continue to geometrically multiply.
So, It is imperative therefore that individual weaponize themselves, and if possible put on a pandemic helmet, wears a pandemic breast plate and carries a pandemic sword to ensure that all abide by rules provided for the safety of everyone. Otherwise according to experts the number of death will over whelm us with our economy in serious jeopardy.
Regarding safety, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, ( SGF) who also doubles as the Chairman, Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID -19 , Mr. Boss Gida Mustapha had condemned particularly the on-going practice of sharing masks and picking of masks for recycling from dump sites, that we all have the responsibilities to be self-educated and to educate others.
He laid emphasis on, with the exception of fabric masks, every disposable used mask is ahazardous medical waste and should be disposed of properly, preferably by burning; it is very risky to share masks as the virus is capable of remaining on surfaces for several hours and one could get infected; it is unhealthy practice to pick disposed masks for whatever purpose is harmful to both the individual picking it and whoever procures it later”.
The SGF also asked that “it will be helpful for high risk people such as the elderly and those with morbidities, to wear masks or face covering and avoid crowded places. Grandchildren should be away from their grandparents to avoid any transmission. Most importantly, emphatically say no to stigmatization”.
It is also important to state, that Nigerians should stop underestimating the pandemic by disregarding rules that government and health experts have made for the containment of this deadly virus.
It is noteworthy, that organizations, public and private companies are already making concerted efforts to re-weave the socioeconomic fabrics of the society while fighting this pandemic.
Chairman/CEO of NewTrends Studios & Investments Ltd, Mr. Samuel Oduwole stressed that, “understanding that others are faced with similar challenges can spur individuals to brace up and also look for the opportunities COVID-19 presents, as it has affected my business. NewTrends Studios is one of the world class audio/visual recording studios in Abuja, it has seen it decline during this episode than it has ever experienced since inception”.
“Our clients continue to re-negotiate studio session fee, producer fee, mastering and virtually every facets of audio/visual production. It is quite tiring seeing that there are staffs, rent as well as other bills to pay. In a short while of this pandemic the impact is sudden and it pierces through the bone like a sharp needle. I try to look beyond the challenges to ensure the business keeps running”.
The Programme Manager ECOWAS Peace Fund, Mr. Dieudonne Nikiema said while the office requested staff to show solidarity to member States affected by COVID-19.
Mr. Nikiema urged Africans to learn the lesson and take necessary arrangements to become really independent or at least self sufficient on some key sectors, as the fight against COVID -19 ranges on.
He noted that no country should rely on one product as income or currency generating, seeing that the price of oil has plummeted is the most relevant lesson to all. He said more than ever, families should discuss strategic issues to ensure that more attention is given to each member as well as necessity to make hygiene our middle names.
A graduate of Optometry from Imo State University, Ukamaka Ezekulie, a member of Nigeria Youth Service Corp (NYSC) for 2019 barge. She resides in Abuja but posted to serve at Mararaba Medical Centre Nasarawa State.
She, like many other people, is delighted that the forceful COVID -19 holidays was coming to an end, but not happy with the strains of hardship that people face on a daily basis, due to the effects of the pandemic.
Her pain! “The stress of getting vehicle and the cost has tripled, not to mention the distance one has to trek on a daily basis. Exhaustion pummel on me on reaching my assignment area, I hardly find strength to help patients who’s cases are more serious than tiredness and I’m pained as a result of not doing the much I used to for patients”.