The fear of coronavirus is the beginning of wisdom. Many people have been affected in so many ways by the rampaging global threat of covid-19, though in varied dimensions, however, the truth remains that nobody would claim to be immune to any form of negative impact of the pandemic.
Hard hit were the downtrodden in the society, the less privileged, the people that must go out on a daily basis to find food for their families, people with no positive, structured stream of income. An encounter with many of them is revealing.
Egoneje, Fufu seller: ‘A bag of fufu which we used to buy N6,000 is now N13,000’
Egoneje is an enterprising woman, she pounds fufu and wraps it for sale. The business was such a lucrative business that her husband had to join her in the trade, but the coming of corona virus has done a devastating blow to the business.
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Narrating her situation, Egoneje said the business is now bad, adding that a bag of fresh fufu which she was buying for N6000 is now selling for N13,000.
She said “Everything is now costly; a bag of fufu which we used to buy for N6000 is now N13000. Transport has made it to go too high, and farmers no longer come out. Even the nylon we use in wrapping the fufu is now too high. We use gas, gas is too costly now. “
On the level of patronage she said “You know everybody needs food but it is no longer as before. They complain that what we sell now is too small and too costly compared to what it used to be.
“Before I was using charcoal, but you don’t even see that one now not to talk of how much they sell. So we use gas, but it is on the high side. What do we do? We prepare the fufu for the few that still come to patronize us. We still have N100 and N50 sizes but they are smaller now due to the high cost of the product, transport, nylon and gas.”
On what the government should do to assist businesses, especially her trade, she said “Government knows what to do. They should start from transport, it is too high and that affects every other aspect of our lives, including my business.
“You see these ones I am wrapping now, four days they have not finished buying them, but this is what would not last the next day if not coronavirus, I mean before the coronavirus, the market is too bad for us now. People prefer to eat garri now, no matter how costly it is, they prefer it.
“As this business is now, I cannot even boast of money to buy other things, so what we do most times is to get soup in the house, those that don’t select food would swallow this fufu any time, those ones that select food would wait until we see money to buy rice or pasta. I do this business with my husband; we never had reason to regret doing the business until this evil sickness,” Egoneje disclosed.
Udoh, Barbing Saloon operator: ‘People are afraid to barb now, they are afraid of Coronavirus’
Eniobong Udoh is a barbing saloon operator; he was comfortable with his business, making some cool money, however his business can no longer take care of his family because people no longer patronize his trade. He said the reason for that is because people are afraid of contracting the covid-19 sickness.
According to Udoh, many of their customers now come to barb on credit, something which they have not seen years back. The customers no longer come so now we run the business at a great loss.
“Customers no longer have money to pay; many will come and say we should barb them free.
Although the Corona Virus has not stopped us from working, we don’t have many customers now.
“Another thing is that people are afraid to barb now, they are afraid of Coronavirus. They said if they barb they will carry coronavirus. Now they are coming in small numbers. We still maintain the same amount we use in barbing, but customers are very few, it is affecting us.”
Udoh stated that he finds it difficult to make substantial amounts of money since covid-19. “Since this disease entered Nigeria I have not seen N10,000 in bulk, I have not counted such amount to say I am taking it to the bank and save, because there is nothing to save. In those days, especially during weekends I could make N15,000, okay let me not lie, N10,000 to N12,000, now nothing like that. I struggle to feed my young wife and her only son.”
He advised the government to relax the lockdown for the benefit of the masses. “Government should not lock us down; they should allow us to work freely. It is not easy locking a full-fledged adult at home with nothing to compensate him, it is wrong.”
Tinuke, a Fashion designer: ‘No business, we now eat concoction rice, soup.’
Tinuke, is a Fashion designer, she used to have contracts to sew uniforms especially the popular Ashoebi for ladies, uniforms for school children and others, but all those have fizzled out courtesy of the global pandemic. She said “They should open markets and schools because these are our major customers. Now our children are not going to school, their brains are going down. As it is now customers are not coming. I don’t know what you mean by online lessons. Government should open businesses. People should obey guidelines, and wear their face masks especially so that the government can see reason and open schools and markets. I beg the government to open us, churches, mosques, schools and markets,” Tinuke pleaded.
She averred that the pandemic has really made the cost of sewing material to go high, making their business difficult. “This corona virus has affected costs of material to sew cloth, people that are bringing them are not coming again, so the scarcity of them has made the prices go up. Most of the materials come from Aba, some from China; those ones that are coming from China hardly come while the Aba made are costly.
“We have no customers again, before you see somebody who wants to sew Ashoebi (Uniform designed for ceremonies) maybe the person will come with her friends, four, five friends, do you know what that means? It is money. But it is no longer so. There is nothing like Ashoebi now, since parties are not allowed and even churches and Mosques have not opened fully. If I tell you that I am happy call me a liar.
“The question I normally ask is does it mean that the government is not seeing that the people are suffering. The people are suffering. People don’t have money, we eat concoction, soup, rice, rice cooked with only tomato, oil and pepper. “
Mama Sidi: ‘I don’t really feel there is anything happening’
To Mama Sidi, she is not so much bothered by the coronavirus, essentially because she stays in her house to ply her trade as a hairstylist “I don’t really feel there is anything happening, Corona or no Corona. I am in the yard. People have been coming to do their hair. There is no day I don’t work, it has been like that. The times I expect high patronage are festive occasions like Christmas and Ileya, just this Sallah that passed I worked very well.
“Unless, before, people don’t ask for credit but now many would come and say do my hair, tomorrow, that tomorrow might become next Month, you will not kill that person. Next time she will come with that old debt and sit down for another one.
“But this their coro, does it exist? The government should allow the people to go out and find what to eat; that my trade is safe doesn’t mean others are ok. Complaints are becoming too much and it is time the government looks deeply and finds out if the disease is as scary as the health authorities make us believe. There is a face mask, so no need for social distancing as such.”
Ahmed, Vulcanizer: ‘We are not doing anything’
Ahmed, Vulcanizer lamented that he was doing virtually nothing and pleaded with the government to open the economy “We are not doing anything sir, nothing, I am telling you, tell them we are not doing anything. People don’t move their vehicles like before, it is when they move their motor or automobile that they bring work for us, we are dying, and that is the truth.
These people should allow us to go about our business and find food for our families. Oyibo people are opening, why not Nigeria, or is there anything other than what we are seeing? We are tied, tell them we are tired. They tell us to wear masks and we are doing that, so what is the problem?