How Covid -19 is shaping social life in Abuja
Over the past six months Nigeria, and indeed most countries of the world, have been grappling with the new strain of the dreaded Coronavirus which has claimed several lives since it was discovered in Wuhan-China, in December 2019.
A total of 8,318,370 people across the globe have tested positive to the pneumonia-like infection as at 17th, June 2020, including 448,735 deaths recorded in the period. In the Americas, the United States of America alone accounts for 2,163,290 confirmed cases from which 117,717 have died while Brazil accounts for 955, 377 confirmed cases and 46,510 deaths from the Coronavirus by mid-June. In Africa, countries like South Africa and Egypt have recorded the highest number of confirmed case of 80,412 and 49,219 respectively.
Back home in Nigeria, 17,735 people tested positive to COVID-19 as at 17th June 2020, with 469 deaths recorded since the index case was reported on 27th February 2020. The FCT alone accounts for 1391of the confirmed cases.
Aside its health hazards and fatality rate, the Coronavirus has shaken the global economy to it very core, as public and private businesses have been shoot as a measure of containing the spread of the pandemic. Affected countries have issued a compulsory stay at home order, while shooting down their borders to both human and business exchanges.
In Nigeria, the federal government on March 29, 2020, declared a total lockdown in Ogun state and its commercial capital of Lagos state as well as in its federal capital territory, Abuja. Several states also followed suit, banning movement except for those on essential duties.
The Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 also did issue some guidelines including the ban on social and religious gathering, social distancing, wearing of face mask, regular washing of hands/use of hand sanitizer, among several others measures aim at containing further spread of the virus.
Some of these measures however didn’t go down well with residents of the FCT have as their social life and source of livelihood depends on daily interaction through human transactions.
The social life of the people which allow us to get closer, which is usually defined by opposition to private life which encompasses the activities that take place in the public or community sphere has been truncated, forcefully moving everyone into private life which is lived inside the home or within the family.
The issue of social distancing has become an unavoidable situation as people are advised to stay at home and maintain reasonable distance between themselves and the other person which in the long run has affected social gatherings including weddings, birthday parties, musical concert, clubbing even spiritual social life of public worship has been affected.
In the FCT the usual weekend gatherings have been put on hold, no more weddings, church services, park sit outs because the coronavirus is easily transmitted from person to person.
It can be said that a person who usually attends parties and meetings often has an intense social life but all this has been suspended for the last 3 months leaving the FCT like a shadow of itself. The streets are quiet, the parks are locked the eateries prepare the food down for customers to buy and take away no more sit-ins, the churches are locked and the event centres have begun to gather dust due to the lockdown. No more avenues to it interact with numerous individuals and it appears like even relationships have been constrained.
METRO went round the metropolis to get the pulse of FCT residents and their reactions on how the lockdown has affected their social life, although residents who spoke to use were willing to comply with the social distancing directives but many of them complained of financial loss while others are tired of sitting in doors.
Melaye an Uber driver decried low patronage, stating that the weekends of weddings, clubbing and church activities before the lockdown was a good time to make a lot of money but all this has stopped because of the pandemic.
“When there was a total lockdown there was no work for me because we were not carrying any passenger. I had to seat at home and wait for my private clients, I couldn’t go far because there were security agencies everywhere and I barely had pickups because our app was closed.
“Since the partial lockdown began business has picked up a little but my experience has been you may get a request but when coming back you may not get any passenger. We observe social distance one passenger in front or behind and we have to put off our air conditioning system so the comfort our clients are used to is no longer there but everyone understands the situation and times we are in. Our major prayer is to recover back the money we use to make before Covid 19 hopefully when the social life in the FCT returns back to normal like our churches resume service, weddings, clubs reopen we will recover because we still have bills to be paid,’’ he explained.
Chinyere, a mother of four children with a husband who is a bricklayer, stated that the Coronavirus affected her food business greatly because she sells to the workers at the construction site, she however added that regrettably government palliatives never got to her.
“What do you expect me to say, business has gone down in the last 3 months, food is essential but people are stocking their homes with food stuffs but we that don't have savings but depend on our sale have been biting our fingers since the lockdown.
"We are in the period of hide and seek by few of our customers while majority of them are gone. Look at that construction site, all the workers are gone, I had potential customers from there. While we are mindful of the spread of virus, we are not mindful of how household will survive", she said.
Veronica a kunu seller in one of the public schools said, “No market for me since schools close. I stay at home for two months before I decided to start to start selling corn by the road side. My husband is working for a company but he is among those who are told to stay at home, Junior Staff. I have to feed my family and children and encourage my husband not to worry and think.”
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