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Covid-19: Abuja Residents Smarting From Lockdown Extension

As the world continues to grapple with the novel Corona Virus (Covid-19) pandemic. Leaders across the world has found lockdown as one of the effective tools to reduce the spread of the virus.
Governments have initiated various forms palliatives to cushion the effects of this move on its citizenry.

To deal with the increase of cases of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country, the Federal Government of Nigeria announced a total lockdown of states with the highest rate of cases in the country while other state governors voluntarily directed for partial lockdown.

However, on Thursday, the Governors’ Forum … agreed on a 14-day interstate lockdown.
Speaking during a national telecast on March 29, 2020. President Muhammadu Buhari announced lockdown in three states, they are the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, Lagos and Ogun (because of its proximity to Lagos).
The president announced a two weeks lockdown which commenced on April 1 to 14, 2020. The lockdown was subsequently extended for another two weeks to help the government level the curve of the pandemic.

The lockdown prohibits gathering of persons  for conferences, meetings, religious worship, festivals, private events, public visits, burials, weddings, traditional marriages and other social events; the temporary closure of public places, such as event centres, bars, night clubs/lounges, cinemas, markets, supermarkets, malls, shops, restaurants/canteens.

The restrictions placed on traders in market places made exemption for food items and water sellers. It has been further reviewed by the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19 to allow traders open for only two days of the week between the hours of 10am to 2pm on Wednesdays and Saturdays while supermarkets are allowed to close by 4pm.

President Buhari announced various palliative measures to cushion the effects of the lockdown ranging from paying conditional cash transfer of two months be paid the most vulnerable in the society, distribution of grains from the National Grain Reserve, distribution of 150 trucks of seized rice by the Nigeria Customs Service to the 36 states of the federation, as well as giving out loans to small business owners amongst others.
Despite these moves by government to cushion the effects of the lockdown, residents in the FCT have continued to groan under the weight of the lockdown, stressing they have not gotten any form of intervention from government.
LEADESHIP Weekend gathered that the worst hit lockdown situation were artisans, day workers and business people who earn their daily bread from services they render on a daily basis.
Speaking with LEADERSHIP Weekend, Latoya Rose, a food vendor in Lokogoma, Abuja, said the current situation in the country and across the globe calls for great concern and prayers to stop the impending hardship.
She said: “I hardly make up to N2,000 now. Before the lockdown I make daily profit of between N6,000 to N10,000 daily. The painful part was that my food was wasted for the first two days, and I don’t have much to continue my business now as my husband who is a carpenter can hardly fend for the family this period.”
On her part, Mrs Komolafe C., a house wife, explained she went to the market immediately the president issued the order to buy foodstuffs for the family with all the money they had, hoping it would last till the end of the lockdown.
“I am believing God for all this to end so we don’t run out of everything we bought before the lockdown. I went to the market and bought foodstuffs with all the money my husband gave me and the little money I added to it. Hoping it’ll be enough for us and our two children during the period there is no money at home now,” she added.
Abdullahi Hajara, a petty trader at the mini market in Kurudu, lamented the lockdown was really affecting her family, because her husband who is a mechanic cannot go out for work for the past two weeks, which had made the family depend totally on the few sales she was able to make on daily basis.
“My husband is no longer going to work. There was even a day he tried to go, but he ended up wasting the small money we had on transportation, because no customer came to even ask what he was doing at the workshop. So, we feed on the little sales I make from my small business everyday,” she lamented.
Hajara said her family skipped breakfast until afternoon depending on when she was able to make small money since the lockdown.
“We don’t eat breakfast most times. We usually wait until I make small money so we can use it to buy beans and cook,” she added.
Mr. Simon Yusuf sells engine oil while his wife fries kwose (bean cake) in front of his shop at Jikwoyi, a suburb of the FCT. But since the lockdown started, life has been tough on them, Yusuf told our correspondent.
“Government said we should not go out, and inside the house we are dying of hunger. I don’t know which one to choose, whether the Coronavirus or this kind of miserable life we have been subjected to.
“I can’t go to shop; my wife too is staying at home. It has been so hard here my sister,” Yusuf said.
He also added that the palliative government said it was giving to the poor was not getting to them in Jikwoyi.
“Government said they are sharing money and maybe food items. But we have not seen anything here. They have extended the lockdown, but no provision for us. Nothing has come to this area as government support,” he said.
Mr Oluwole Idowu resides at Prayer Road in Angwan Gede, after Jikwoyi. He is a carpenter and his wife is a staff of one of the private schools in the area.
He said life had not been easy for him as his family since the lockdown started in March.
His words: “I am a carpenter and my wife is a staff of a private school. Since the lockdown started in March, my life has not remained the same. The worst is that there is no one to run to for help because we are all in the same condition here.
“After we exhausted all the food we had in the house, we have been living on God’s mercy. I have very young children, but can no longer feed them. Government should please come and help us here.”
In general, people are really having it hard in this lockdown situation. Corporate begging has increased now become an alternative to dying in silence in Jikwoyi, Kurudu, Orozo areas of the FCT.
Most families depend on their pastors for help. About a week ago, a pastor with one of the Pentecostal churches was going from house to house in Angwan Hakimi Orozo, sharing food items, liquid soap and hand sanitizers to his church members.
In Jikwoyi, Mrs Roseline Thomas, 39, a widow with three children said she relied on daily sales of prepared food to feed her household. The kind of situation that could be likened to eating from hand to mouth but the restriction of movement hindered her from going out to sell to feed her family.
She told LEADERSHIP Weekend that she was left with three mudus of beans, five tubers of yams, and less than 25kg of local rice when the president announced the first lockdown, saying the announcement caught her unprepared and she now struggled to feed her family.
“I just took the money I had to pay my children’s school fees a few weeks ago and since then,  I have been struggling with their upkeep, my hope was to work extra hard in the coming days to enable me recover from that expenditure which was a necessity and now the restriction of movement came suddenly and disorganised my plans,” she stated.
Similarly, a taxi driver, James Amodu, who also resides in Jikwoyi, lamented the virus, has taken away their means of livelihood.
“Coronavirus has taken away our means of livelihood, my business has crumbled, we are talking about 28 days now!  I can no longer go out to do my business. We have not seen any government relief materials as promised by President Buhari during his broadcast but we are hoping it comes at the right time to ease our hardship.
“I have four children and a wife to care for and since the time these children have been out of school, the burden of taking care of them has become very difficult for me, and to make matters worst, this compulsory stay-at-home has added salt to the injury. Unlike before that I had to redouble my effort, now we can’t even make any effort. We are just stuck here at home with no income so when the little I have is finished, how do we cope?” he queried.
According to him, “My prayer is that this Coronavirus should end soon if not there will be a very big hunger in the land. Many families like mine will grapple for scanty resources which is not good for our physical and mental health. We all know the bad economic realities on ground before this virus came and now locking everyone at home. I am appealing to government to consider our plight and keep to their promises concerning the relief materials.”
Similarly, Sanusi Alfa, an Uber driver, who lives in Jikwoyi, Phase 1, pointed out that fear is growing amongst residents as the Coronavirus cases keeps growing daily.
According to him, the extension is a prelude to massive hunger after Covid-19 pandemic is gone.
“I can tell you there is hunger everywhere; this lockdown is biting my family very hard. I have five children excluding my wife and we barely eat twice daily. Truly I don’t how the coming days will be for us because we have few food stuffs in my house and there is no income from anywhere,” he said.
“As Uber driver, everyone knows that if I don’t go out daily, there is no way I can make money and take care of my family everyday. This lockdown has affected us more than any other profession.  I thought after the two weeks the lockdown is over, we will go back to work but here we are, having another 14 days. How are we supposed to cope if government does not come to our aid? The government knows about the hard-economic realities we are facing yet they turn their back against us in this hard time,” he lamented.
The story is also the same in Lugbe, Airport road, where a trader in Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) Lugbe, Mr Uloma Ozoh, said she stayed home for a week but started coming out the second week because she had exhausted the cash on her.
Ozoh, who is a widow, explained though her wares, tiles, did not fall into the category of traders allowed to come to the market, she couldn’t stay home and watch her three children go to bed hungry every day.
“This is the third time we packed our wares and ran away from the market because of the taskforce but my children and I will die of hunger if I don’t come out to look for what we will eat,” she said.
Makava Matawal, a barber at Lugbe Corner Shop, said the second lockdown order announcement by the federal government had seriously affected the savings he had been putting aside for his family’s welfare.
“I live in Tudunwada and I had been saving money to move to a better place closer to my shop. However, I have been borrowing money to feed my family from that savings. As we speak now, we have almost finished the money and we are not even sure this lockdown will end after this extension. Things are really looking bad for us now because once we finish my savings, we will be left with nothing to feed,” he added.