IMPACT OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC ON THE SOCIETY
Since the end of the 2nd World War in the summer of 1945, the world had never seen any greater devastating experience as the Coronavirus Disease, COVID-19 Pandemic which broke out in November 2019 in the Wuhan Province, China.
Nigeria had it’s first index case on 27th February 2020 when an Italian traveled to Lagos from his home country. Since then, things have not been the same in our country.
As at today: 9th April 2020, Nigeria has the following records of the COVID-19 pandemic:
(a) Number of confirmed cases — 288
(b) Number of deaths — 7
(c) Number discharged — 51
The Federal & State Governments promptly initiated policies & management strategies to checkmate, control and handle the spread of this disease in the following ways:
(1) Closure of air travels, land and sea borders.
(2) Closure of offices, markets, non- essential services, and movements;
(3) Sensitization on personal hygiene, handwashing and the use of hand sanitizers;
(3) Social distancing;
(4) Setting up of a Presidential Task Force on COVID-19;
(5) Establishment, improvement of various medical structures & facilities, equipment & stores
(6) Recruitment, training, and retraining of medical personnel, among others.
The lockdown of the system has had many impacts, however, for the purpose of this writeup, we will only consider its impact on women and children who constitute the most vulnerable group. Among this group are widows, orphans, displaced people, sick ones, etc.
There is no doubt that this group of people, together with the aged ones are always the biggest victims of any security, economic, civil or social disorder in our society. Most petty traders, okada riders, taxi, and bus drivers, traders on foodstuffs who depend on daily earnings, fall into this group and with the measures taken to check the spread of this disease, many of these vulnerable people have been cut off from their means of livelihood.
According to a report in the Guardian newspaper (April 4th, 2020), many are not having one meal a day nowadays. This is not to mention any medical care.
It’s therefore easy to observe the disastrous effect of this lockdown, arising from the COVID-19 on this group of our citizens.
The Governments at the various levels have tried to devise means of cushioning the adverse effects of this pandemic and the attendant lockdown on this vulnerable class of its citizens. , Report by the Daily Trust newspaper (April 2nd, 2020) says that the FGN is disbursing N10,000 to N20,000 to each of these persons. At the same time, a lot of issues have been raised by the public on the efficacy of the methods used in distributing or ensuring that the funds and foodstuffs get to the target population. This doubt arises from the absence of an accurate database of the population, sincerity, and honesty of public officials handling these processes among many other issues.
If this trend is not checked and corrected such that they are able to receive these reliefs or assistance their basic existence is seriously threatened. Also, because Government officials led by, oftentimes, political office holders, are the ones handling this exercise, the doubt of partisanship in political dimensions sets in.
This is where the Government involvement of the participation of Non-Governmental Organisations or multilateral agencies which are versed and knowledgeable in relating to these vulnerable groups will be a welcome idea. Some of these NGOs/ multilateral agencies have some necessary data and have also involved themselves in programs of this nature that touch the lives of the vulnerable groups of women, the old aged, children and people in the IDPs. A working partnership with the NGOs/multilateral agencies can go along way in reaching out to them as well as bringing confidence into the exercise; thereby helping to achieve the aim and target of the Government.
This post is written by Charity Onwubiko– Communications Officer PWAN.