The grumbling and complaints arising from the coronavirus pandemic among artisans in Nigeria especially in Lagos continues to mount ceaselessly. Many said they are dying of hunger.
Musa, a Knife Sharpener: “My two wives are in the North, they send me food most times”
Musa, a knife sharpener said his work is still the same because all his clients are still in business, especially those that are operating restaurants, meat sellers, and others. He added that the business is not giving him enough money to care for his family, he added that as an individual Corona virus has affected him.
Musa said sometimes people don’t patronise him because they don’t want him to get close to them, as they said they don’t know who had Covid-19 and who doesn’t have it, they prefer to manage what they have until after coronaVirus.
On how he has managed the corona virus situation Musa said “My wives are not here, my two wives are in the north. They are farmers in our place, they send me food most times and I send them money once in a while. You asked whether I have gone north since the sickness. No, I have not gone. Sometimes I stay four years without going home, so that one is no problem. I get girl friends here; don’t bother yourself about that one.”
How does he feed, and who prepares his food? He said “I am not buying food outside, I cook and any day I don’t cook I can buy gala or bread and mineral, I am using sense now, my Oga. If I am buying food in Lagos that means I will not make one Naira savings. How much am I making from the work? If I sharp one knife, I collect N50, how many a day? So the money I make is based on my ability to save part of the money. Nothing in the work, but it is only if you can save small small.”
He pleaded with the government to relax the lockdown so that he will start to enjoy some goodwill from some of his well to do clients. He said “Let the government open the place, big man don’t want to see us, before when you work in a big man’s house, he will dash you money so I am sure if they open Nigeria up, they will be allowing us to work for them again.”
Eddy, Generator Repairer: “It is like Government is favouring some people”
For Eddy the business is just somehow, he said his work improved a lot during the period of total lockdown because many people wanted to get set, making everything ready for relaxation to make them happy during the lockdown, but suddenly there was some improvement in the public power supply and the patronage reduced significantly.
He said now the materials for the job have all gone up. He lamented situations where many of their customers now want them to service their generators on credit. He said that the customers will plead with him to use his money to buy fuel to service their gens but in the end the customers will not give him the fuel money not to talk of the N800 workmanship, he said the person will say there is no money now, come tomorrow, so generally there is a problem.
He advised the government to open the economy, adding that since there is interstate movement now, local planes flying and very soon international flight will start, he therefore claimed that the government appears to be favouring some people. He queried the sagacity in opening international flights and locking the internal economy.
“The business is just somehow, my work improved a lot. During that period there was total lockdown because many people wanted to make everything ready to make them happy during the lockdown, but suddenly there was some improvement in the public power supply and the work just reduced significantly.
“Now the materials for our job have all gone up, many a time somebody who wants you to service his generator will tell you to use your money to buy fuel to service the gen in the end he will not give you that fuel money not to talk of your N800 workmanship, the person will say there is no money come tomorrow, so generally there is problem.
“I want the government to open the economy, there is interstate movement now, local planes are flying and very soon international flight will start so it is like the government is favouring some people. How can you talk of opening an international flight without opening your internal market so that people can trade, render services and make money and regain their business,” Eddy said.
Gbenga, Printer: “I am considering either to learn how to drive bus, korope or even Keke”
Gbega said he has been in the business of printing for over 10 years, adding that he has not regretted the job but this year has been seriously damaged and that he is beginning to think of what next to do, He add that he was considering either to learn how to drive bus, korope or even Keke, because those are the sectors that are doing their business without much problems. He bemoaned the closure of churches and schools since they are his biggest customers; he queried where the government expected him to get money to feed his family.
He challenged anyone who cared to follow him to his how to see what a mess the pandemic has caused in his home. “I am telling you the truth, if you enter my house now you will know that things are rough, I tell you. To eat is difficult.”
He disclosed that before the pandemic one would see papers packed in his workshop to the extent that there was no space, adding that customers were begging him to do their jobs. He said that now it is the other way round because customers are now begging customers to bring jobs. He said getting a job or two a day is like a camel going through the eye of a needle. “If I get two jobs a day, any amount I can take it like that, I will not let the customer go, I am telling you the truth. I will even prefer you owe me, at least you will pay me soon.”
He said that the government should allow schools and churches to start because as printers they print flyers, magazines, bulletins and posters.
Gbenga prayed for patronage, saying the workmanship is not the issue, that he will do the job first. “If I let the customer go, what will I tell my family? No it does not make any sense, so my prayer in the morning is for God to direct the feet of customers to my workshop, leave the rest to me.”
“Nigerians have suffered and it is time to release us. God should also forgive humanity if they have wronged Him, so that the covid-19 should go immediately, we are tired. I have not seen anything like this in my entire life, that a disease will affect the whole world at the same time. When the thing stated I was thinking may be God has decided to end this world, but thank God we are still alive till date, nothing will happen to us, I pray.”
He spoke further “Before you will see papers pack here, you will not see where to put your legs, customers will be begging you to do their work. Now we are begging customers to bring job
The government should allow us to start especially schools and churches so that all their flyers, magazines, bulletins and many things, even their posters we help them to print them.”
Tochukwu, Generator repairer; “The government is not with us”
Another generator repairer also lamented the adverse effect of corona virus on his trade, he added that the cost of materials for generator repair is getting high every day, while their workmanship remains the same, but much more worrisome is the issue of low patronage, he cited factors as lack of money, cost of materials, increase in power supply and general cold weather in the land.
Tochukwu claimed that the government abandoned the masses when the government should have responded to save them from economic downturn. He therefore advised the government to open the economy totally so that the people can go about their daily activities to feed their ward.
“It is negatively impacting on my job, before the pandemic, big generator piston, we were buying it N1800 but now it is N2200, sometimes N2300. Before the covid-19 I prepared a list of items which I will need to repair a generator, and it amounted to N12,000 but now I have used up the N12000 and still need about N4000 to complete the work, my workmanship is not there, mind you. Is it plug? In fact generally generator parts have all added money. Like 7000KV piston which was bought N2000 before corona virus is now N3000 and above, so everything added money, some N200, N300, N500.”
He stated that everything in his trade has added money “Even the work itself, everything add money, and now some people have packed their gens, we are just managing, in all this we still manage the same amount for the workmanship. “What we see is high cost of materials, low patronage and unchanged workmanship amount. Besides all these factors there is more power supply now and there is cold, all these factors affect our work.”
Tochukwu talked about his personal plans and how the pandemic has hindered it. “Concerning the coronavirus before it came I was planning to switch over to another business, I was packaging myself and putting one or two things together, but the pandemic has affected my vision. What I am doing now I am taking things easy until we know the direction the virus is going. The government is not with us, even they themselves know, they are not with the masses. They locked us up and they did not give us anything.
“They know that things are not normal, they are just pretending, talk of transport, especially interstate, I wanted to travel for burial of my uncle but no way because of high transport fare,” he stated.
He urged government to open the economy saying “Government should open totally, including schools, churches, mosques and markets, they should suspend anything about covid-19 in Nigeria, since we have not died all this while we are not going to die again,” Tochukwu claimed.
Jude, Carpenter: “I rely on my savings and goodwill from brothers”
Jude is a carpenter he has workshop in Ajegunle, Lagos, he said he is still doing his work but that his work is no longer moving as before. He said he doesn’t come to his workshop as before, that he now comes three times a week.
On how he survives the pandemic since the patronage has shrunk he said he has been relying on his savings and goodwill from brothers, adding that prices of planks and other materials have all gone up and people that have building projects have all suspended them till further notice.
Jude said he is hoping that things will soon come to normal, that nothing lasts forever. He added that he was here the pandemic came, and that he will be here when it will go. “I am still working, but it will never be like before. I don’t come to my workshop as before, I come three times a week now because of transport and lack of job. Now I rely on my savings and goodwill from brothers. Prices of planks have all gone up and people that have building projects have all suspended them till further notice.
“I am hoping that things will soon come to normal, it will not last forever. We were here the pandemic came, we will be here when it will go; nothing pass God,” he said.
Jacob, Welder: “Can’t you see that we are dying gradually because of hunger”
Jacob an elderly welder, he was visibly angry as he retorted “Please you people should not disturb me, let me manage myself as I am managing it, what you are asking me now, is it going to put food on my table? So let me be; anytime the government say let the disease go, let it go and if they say no, so be it. I am not bothered, can’t you see that we are dying gradually because of hunger, can’t you see it yourself?