Physical Distance: How Willingly are Nigerians to comply
By Our Correspondent
Recently, Funke Akindele and her husband were in the news for violating the lockdown order by the Lagos State government. She was sentence to 14-day community service and a fine of N100,000.00 by a magistrate court when she pleaded guilty to a one court charge.
Funke against the lockdown order organized a birthday party for her husband with a gathering over twenty persons. Majority of the persons at the birthday bash are celebrities and staff.
One should expect that with her pedigree in the Nollywood industry in Nigeria, she should be a worthy example. Funke is one of the female actress that had crave an niche for herself through the various film projects she had embark on.
She is a brand ambassador of prominent telcom, comestics and beverage. It is expected that she would have leveraged on her public influence to create awareness on the need to obey laws and order especially on the breakout of the pandemic, Coronavirus.
The outbreak of Covid-19 is raising on new lifestyles across the globe as part of preventive measures to contain the spread of the virus. Since the outbreak, medical experts are researching its cure and vaccines that will boost our immune system against the virus.
As part of the preventive protocol adopted by the World Health Organization, WHO is an enstranged lifestyle of social distancing or better still physical distancing and the use of face mask. Simply, it means standing about two meters (five feet) away from the next person and avoiding handshake. These measures are alien to a typical Nigerian who wants to hug, shake and embrace a fellow on the street.
Physical distance can be effective when there is a total lockdown of gathering especially more than fifty persons therefore it became expedient to call for the shutdown of churches and social gathering in whatever form. This is a tall order for an average Nigerian that is use to ‘owambe’ every weekend.
Truly, Nigerians are lovers of social gathering both in large numbers and small groups such as extended family meetings celebrating achievements or marriage. This is the kind of thing that Funke Akindele and her husband could not resist in times like this when the world’s attention is drawn to ending the transmission of the virus from person to person.
Like, Funke Akindele, many Nigerians are shocked with their family members with the restrictions on movement leading to the cancellation of various engagements. With the lockdown order reenforced by President Muhummadu Buhari in a nation-wide broadcast on April 13 for another 14 days, our correspondent sought the views of Nigerians in the FCT on their willingness to comply with the order.
Tolu Adebayo is a broadcaster in a private radio station in view said Covid-19 should come and go because it is so abnormal to restrict people from hugging and embracing one another in Nigeria. The broadcaster explained that physical distancing can only be applied in social gathering and the ones we see on television beyond that it is a fuse.
When asked if she believes on the existence of the virus based on her response, Adebayo said, “Yes, the virus maybe in existence but the measure put in place for prevention is somewhat odd to us. I have not seen my friend and I meet her somewhere, I am not expected to hug her.
“We shake hands alot as a mark of friendship and familiarity; its kind of a bond for us but now we are restricted for a virus we cannot see. I have read the mode of transmission but I am yet to be convinced on its origin until a proper explanation is made on its origin, most of us will remain doubtful.
“There is no cure but people are been treated and testing negative. How did they get the treatment? Is the treatment meant for a particular category of persons? What are the authorities not telling us but ask us to just stay at home?”, Miss Adebayo asked.
In his response, DJ Smile, a disc jockey in popular garden in Asokoro extension said in as much as Nigerians are willing to comply with the lockdown order, the state of public facilities in the country with cause them to be unwilling to obey.
DJ Smile laments that the power situation is poor, there are no health facilities and the cost of living is increasing daily without the source of livelihood by citizens are not measuring up.
“As a DJ, I play every weekend in different events to earn daily living but with lockdown, there will be no job and no income for me as long as the lockdown is in force. What that means, I will be unwilling to obey the order because I must eat and survive before the virus comes. The virus attacks only living persons, so I must strive to stay alive for myself and family.
“Secondly, why we will not be willing is because a typical Nigerian likes outing, going for marriages, Birthday parties, house opening, music shows whether you are invited or not. It keeps us going, we like dancing and playing together but when you suddenly tells to stop all of that it is depressing and may lead to frustration in most cases. Our society is full of plenty trouble and this gatherings helps us to ease off the stress after our daily hustle.
“If we have power supply and policies before now that cater for the needs of the average citizens, you find out that people will comply without being forced to do so. But, you know the county we live in, people hustle for themselves and the government don’t care especially when it is not directly affecting them. So compliance should be low and we need force to comply”, DJ Smile poised.
Madam Juliet response is not different from Miss Adebayo and DI Smile while her case is more sympathetic and agonizing. She said hunger will kill more persons than the virus if government don’t take the appropriate measures to help citizens to cushion the impact of the lockdown especially in the provision of food.
Madam Juliet is a petty trader who has five teenagers to cater for. With her shop lockdown, she has exhausted the stock in the last 14 days with no hope in sight to replenish the stocks for the days ahead.