Long before the outbreak of the coronavirus Pandemic also known as COVID-19, the typical atmosphere in the bars and nightclubs is such that renders the hard time currently being experienced in the country an exaggerated claim. There is hardly any sign of economic recession when the Lagos bars or nightclubs open. Although some club/bar managers admit that the fun is not the same when some of their customers are having issues with government agencies or out of the country, but it is still business as usual when night falls.
An arguable research in 2015 saw Nigeria emerge second as the world’s biggest champagne consumer after France. If truly the country comes second as far as champagne consumption around the world is concerned, then Lagos nightclubs, bars, hotels and lounges must account for 65 % of the estimated consumption rate, which has been estimated at N1 billion per year.
Aside weekends, from (Friday – Sunday) which obviously are peak days at the bar and lounges, from December to January are the special months that bar/club owners and managers prepare ahead for, it is usually the peak season for all the hangouts. They plan ahead of the festive period when customers inside and outside the country come together to share in the celebration of the season.
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Nmaduagu Jude, a 28 years-old manager of a very popular and busy relaxation spot “Caucus open bar” located at Beesam Airport road in Ikeja. Speaking to Lagospostng on camera, said:
“Caucus open bar has been a remedy for folks who sort out relaxation spots to unwind after a stressful day at work so folks gather there to chill out in the evening for fun and to unwind with friends amidst lots of drinks and edibles been consumed in the process.
As for weekends, the vibes is totally a different ball game, more especially on Sundays which is recorded as the peak days for business. The amount of crowd we experience each Sunday is quite overwhelming, in fact it is more like a crowded party”. He noted.
Since the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic, bars and nightclubs have not fared well in the age of social-distancing. As countries enacted lockdown measures, bars and nightclubs were among the first businesses ordered to close and are likely to be the last to re-open. Since bars and nightclubs are typically designed for social interaction of large crowds, it may be difficult to safely re-open them without a COVID-19 vaccine in place.
Following the latest development on the gradual ease of Lockdown in the state, the Lagos state governor stated that, “businesses such as events centre, cinemas, arcades, bars and casinos will remain closed for now until proper measures are been put in place to curtail the wide spread of the virus in the state.
Also included in this group are day clubs and night clubs, beaches, viewing centre, swimming pools, gyms and all recreation and relaxation centre.”
The tendency for these businesses to attract people in large numbers cramped in a place defeats the purpose of Social and physical distancing directives.
The Lagos State Government as a warning to other defaulting members recently shutdown hotels, bars and clubs in some part of Lagos to serve as a warning to those who allegedly disobeyed the new guidelines issued by the government to operators of hotels, clubs, bars and other entertainment outfits in the state.
The Director-General, Safety Commission, Lanre Mojola in a statement, said that;
“Preliminary investigation revealed that some bars, spas, lounges and night clubs were not complying with the safety guidelines and closure order as directed by the state government”
As for law abiding citizens like Jude, the story has not been palatable for him due to loses he has incurred since the lockdown began. He went ahead to share his anguish at the alarming rate he has lost out as a result of the after effect of the Corona virus pandemic;
Furthermore Jude added saying “With the emergence of covid-19 pandemic, the reverse has become the case. The then always crowded spot and recreational centre has overnight become as disserted as a grave yard. He has suffered a great lose both in terms of money and customers so far.
To buttress my point, I will give a vivid but very painful instance. Prior to the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic, Sundays at Caucus Open Bar is often crowded with customers and they record a massive 100 percent income rate and sales and usually the profit is often massive but with the coming of covid19 pandemic, this statistics has drastically reduced so they now record an income rate of 30% on Sundays which is supposed to be the peak performing days for sales and profits”.
With many Nigerians paying less attention to the investment opportunities in night businesses owing to a combination of factors, investigations has revealed that the economic value of night businesses in the country, has hit the N600 billion mark.
The industry, which is growing at an impressive rate, according to club/bar owners and managers, is said to be witnessing a steady influx of foreign investors.
As far as operators in the nightlife business industry are concerned, the businesses worth is over N500 billion.
Also, the Managing Director Spronks Creations, organisers of the Nigeria International Wine & Spirit fair, Mrs. Sobodu, in a press release confirmed that; “the consumption figure of wine and spirit in the country, despite the economic recession was valued at over $500 million.”
She added that “more than 80 percent of the drinks factored in the said value, were consumed at different nightclubs and bars across the country.”
She also noted that “The growth and acceptance of the industry into our social lifestyle has made the country one of the fast emerging markets in the world, which in turn offers great opportunity for tourism, trade and commerce. It created the need to expose indigenous wine and spirit producers to the global trade environment, with Nigeria ranking as a fast growing market,” she said.
According to her, “this development spurred her company to partner some International Oenologists (wine experts) to explore the Nigerian market. “We are exploring the possibility of growing and producing the first commercial wine range in West Africa. Obudu Plateau, found on the Oshie Ridge of the Sankwala Mountain range, has been identified as a potential location to explore wine production based on the landscape and altitude of this region,” she disclosed.
This confirmation by Mrs Asobodu reveals part of the setback the nation will record as a result of this global pandemic.
Jude further appealed that “it will be better for the government to end the lockdown, so we can resume business as usual. Even most of the customers are anxious to resume having good times in our bar as usual but we have the moral obligation to stay closed and only do takeaways which is not actually the aim of the business and will only bring minimal income.
Therefore in all earnest, he is praying to see the end of the lockdown as soon as possible”.
The director-general of the Lagos State safety commission stated that the Commission has started issuing provisional safety compliance certificates to social clubs and bars that had registered and had their facilities verified.
He urged centres that were yet to comply with the ‘register to open initiative’, to do so. The question is when will this opening happen and how safe is it?
When asked how much he has lost in percentage as a result of the corona virus pandemic, Jude replied saying;
“I lose up to 70% of what I usually make daily since the beginning of this lockdown. Also taking into cognizance of the fact that we have been paying bills on a regular, and running expenses with less income for instance Lagos State Waste Management Agency (LAWMA), electricity bill, rent, salaries and so on but they couldn’t cope and are in danger of folding up. Paying salaries too has been almost impossible”. He noted.
He concluded by saying that, “he hopes and prays to God that the pandemic should pass away, so business at caucus should return to normal. He hopes to see again the loud music, crowd, dancing, fun, games and generally see people unwind after a stressful day”.
Now, it is obvious from this fact that Jude hasn’t stopped recording loses on a daily basis. Meaning that, if the lockdown measure lingers as a result of this corona virus pandemic, then more damages will be done to his business or it might eventually fold up. Imagine the collateral damage for each bar, club or hotel that folds up, Imagine how many folks who will join the list of unemployed citizens thereby recording an increment in unemployment rate in Nigeria.
Others whom are largely affected in this sector are Disk Jockeys (DJ), Master of ceremonies (MC), Hype men, Dancers, Comedians and entertainers in general.
DJ kelz a popular Lagos based Disk jockey, speaking to Lagos Post Online said;
“When it comes to work, Life was much fun for me before this covid19 came. Everything was perfect for me. I go for my gig from time to time. On Wednesdays I have ladies night here in Hot Mottas, Thursdays I have old-school night here, Fridays I have TGIF show/club till dawn at Golf hub hotels, Saturday evenings at Domino and Sundays will be here at Hot Mottas. So I get very busy all week and I make over 100k a week. I even go for events during the day at weekends then head back to the lounge at night to play”
Unfortunately for DJ kelz, this particular lifestyle now appears to be more like a fairy tale to him as he expressed bitterness on the impact of covid19 to his life as a Disk Jockey, he noted;
“As you can see now, nothing is happening. The lockdown measures has made everything go sore, No party, No DJ which means no money. I can’t even get another job to support myself because I keep getting responses like ‘no vacancy for now’. How painful. I even go online to play for isolation parties, just to make my brand relevant and keep it alive, but that venture cannot be monetized, so I’m trapped in this my state of bankruptcy. I really need help”.
Most times I even get the temptation of joining this popular fraud business called “yahoo yahoo” to know if I can survive, but on a second thought, considering the kind of background I come from, I had to refrain because my family may disown me if I indulge in such dubious activities and illegal acquisition of wealth. This pandemic has to end so I can get my life back, I can’t continue like this anymore”. He concluded.
This is clearly a case of an idle man is the devil’s workshop, giving the long period of this lockdown, many would have spent all their savings just to survive and there bank account will be on red alert. So how would they survive knowing that there is no end to this corona virus in sight? Few months back, at the beginning of the Lockdown, there was an upsurge on criminal activities in the streets of Lagos as thugs stormed the streets, robbing people of their belongings and disrupting the peace in the community. As a result of this development, we witnessed members of the community form small vigilante groups to protect themselves from the menace of these thugs who call themselves ‘One million boys”.
Some, who were apprehended by the law enforcement agencies, blamed it on hardship and the inability to find daily bread as their source of livelihood has been cut off due to the enforcement of the lockdown measures imposed by the government.
Listening to what DJ kelz said, it is evident that youths who don’t have the strong will to stay away from crime will seize the opportunity to embrace criminal activities.
So the question is; how do we reduce the menace of the increasing level of unemployment in the course of this corona virus pandemic?
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