I remember the Labourers, Shoe Shiners, Bus and Taxi Drivers, Okada people, Keke drivers, car-washers, Mechanics, Laundry people, Wheelbarrow Pushers, Printers, Shop owners, Tailors, Airliners and many more micro, small, medium and big enterprises whose businesses and sources of income are shut down because of the Coronavirus lockdown. Some of them can never go back to their businesses, because some of the businesses are dead by now, they must have consumed all their profit and capital. The questions are, how can they survive this lockdown any longer, and in the aftermath of the pandemic, how can they start over?
We have seen an acute rise in desperation, poverty, insecurity, and unrest in just a few weeks of this lockdown. Hunger can make people do desperate things. Hunger is threatening people’s lives more than the coronavirus does. We have reached a stage where people are willing to face the virus just to feed themselves, or engage in stealing or robbery to get food. There is this wise saying that, “whatever removes rat from its hole into a fire is more dangerous than the fire.” Hunger is more dangerous than the coronavirus. With the imminent lockdowns in some states, one must be cautioned about the social and economic consequences of that.
The differences in our economic classes have never been this wide and evident as it is during this lockdown, and the vicious cycle is coming down on the common man. Poverty is affecting the common man, and at the same time, he is the victim of the resultant insecurity, because the bourgeoisies are well protected. There is no way we can afford to lock down our economy much longer, we recently withdrew N5 billion from our sovereign wealth fund and another N3 trillion loan is on the horizon, and nothing has significantly changed so far, this is not viable and promising for our future. We have to think outside the box.
The question is, can Nigeria fit in and survive a lockdown like this one? The larger portion of our population is made up of people whose income is dependent on daily outing and hustle. If the advanced countries can do it, can we? People that have saved enough money can afford the lockdown comfortably, but what about those that didn’t save money?
Help me mention more businesses that are affected by this lockdown, let us recognize their plight and the extent of this crisis.
I would suggest opening up the economy, but with serious measures of prevention, sanitization, distancing, and testing.
Dr. Ahmed Adamu,