Amid lockdown, parents, guardians narrate ordeals
Apparently, this is the first time Nigerians will experience a situation of total lockdown where all socio economic and political activities are locked down as a result of the Corona Virus (COVID-19) pandemic, which has sent the entire world panicking. The Federal Government and states have no choice but to give a stay-at-home directive which has entered the second week as part of measures to contain the pandemic from spreading.
Unlike any other experience, what is peculiar with the present situation is the social distancing directive in which parents, who are compelled to stay indoors have the additional responsibilities, not only to keep their wards, but to also monitor how their children interact with their pairs within the environment as part of efforts to prevent a further spread of COVID-19.
While many parents who shared their ordeals with The Guardian agreed with the directive as a child of necessity government must do, they were however apprehensive of the fact that government failed to put necessary mechanism in place to cushion the effect of the stay-at-home order.
For instance, a similar and peculiar complaint among the parents was the poverty level of many Nigerians, who during the lockdown have to beat the order to find a means to feed their children.
Narrating her experience in the last two weeks, a media practitioner, Titilope Joseph said the lockdown, though a necessary step to curb the spread of the pandemic was not done with the welfare of the citizens in mind.
She said many citizens who could not afford a-three square meal while working may not be able to cater for themselves and family during this period.
She said, “As for me, I would say I am coping well. However, I have to adjust to the stay-at-home order. Initially, I was having body aches and headaches because I wasn’t doing many physical activities. Things are also expensive in the market and the kids seem to be eating more than necessary.”
Mrs Joseph also added that coping with the children the whole day is another challenge she confronted although she noted that monitoring their safety is a bit easy.
“I engaged them with things that will entice them. For example, they don’t want to read but I made sure we watch “Crash courses programmes on YouTube and they pay more attention since it’s visual.”
Another parent, Chief Executive Officer, Cashiff Communications Ltd, Mr Olatunde Danisa said he has no choice than to cope by observing the recommended social distance measure. “We go out to buy food stuffs once in a while and security and police walk around the market reminding the traders to close by 2pm. Markets open from 10am to 2pm daily. Food items were quite expensive two days to the lockdown but it reduced drastically because people don’t have enough money to purchase.”
One serious challenge is that children do not really understand why they should be kept at home perpetually, “they get tired of even watching television and reading books.”Danisa also lamented that hoodlums are capitalising on the situation to rob people in broad daylight.
A civil servant, Rasheed Akinlolu in his narrative described the experience as very uneasy despite the fact he ensured that enough food items, which would last for at least three weeks, were bought from the market
“If there is need to go out once in a while it has to be me or my wife, we do this with protective face masks and also define the places we go, we identify peak period in the market and choose period when the crowd is minimal, we do this within one hour, on getting home we go straight to the bathroom to have a thorough warm water shower with a lot of foaming soap. Sanitiser is always at our disposal, in toilets, living room and bedroom. No visitor is entertained during this period.
“My daughter in the university have a routine of three hours reading in a day, also engages in online tutorials organised by his department. My boy, who is to write his West African Senior Certificate Examination (WASSCE) later this year also read two hours a day before joining television lectures at 2pm on WAZOBIA programme for mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology. The baby of the house is currently in primary four, she reads every three hours daily with supervision by either me or her mother.”
Akinlolu expressed concern that it was unfortunate that some Nigerians still doubt the reality of the existence of COVID-19, saying, “There is the need for government to do more enlightenment campaign. I marvelled when I see people disobeying the social distancing directive or violate the stay-at-home order. It is for our good.”
A human rights activist, Achike Chude, said, “The lockdown directive is generally seen by the populace as something that is necessary for societal health. This makes the job easier for the governments and their agencies when it comes to monitoring and enforcement. In a way, this has also helped families, especially parents to ensure compliance in the home. In most cases, it is usually the parents who find themselves having to go out essentially for economic reasons or to buy things for the home especially food stuffs.
“ My children are thankfully big enough to understand the situation. In fact, they have been following the situation online on social media since the pandemic broke. They are on various websites including those of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control. (NCDC). They are the ones that give us information about the various new cases breaking out in different parts of the world, but most especially on the latest situation in Nigeria in terms of new numbers of infections and patient discharges.
Their interest in monitoring the progress of the virus infections is borne out of fear and worry. Unfortunately we have to go out sometimes because of our involvement in the fast moving consumables goods sector, one of those essential food services exempted from the lockdown. This raises some concerns in the house about safety of movement. We try to ensure that we go out with protective gear like nose masks and hand sanitisers.”
He added that boredom has been a major problem for everybody. “Erratic electricity supply has also compounded the situation. This has entailed additional expenses for the home as we have had to expend more money for fuel to run the home, especially to watch the television, which has helped to occupy minds.”
Chude said one of the major benefits of the forced stay at home is that it has helped to bring families physically together.The managing director 3way media communication Ltd. (Brand communication & management consulting, Peter Ugbu said the lockdown is a bit awkward and challenging especially for busy parents that go out on daily basis “when you have to make ends meet and provide direction (when you don’t have all the answers) example is the question of what will be the new normal in the aftermath of COVID-19, the uncertainty regarding economy, health and others.”
He said government, understandably focused on mitigation of the spread of the pandemic but fails to put adequate measure in place to help parents cope. “No parent will want to have bunch of hungry kids in the house.”
Mr. Ekene Okoro, a journalist said the lockdown has not been easy, “but we welcome it since it’s for our safety. Working from home as a journalist is not new to me, but doing so for two consecutive weeks is already telling on me psychologically.
“But the bigger challenge is having the children at home at this same time. It’s a good time to bond, but really, the task is enormous. Everyday springs up a new challenge from their numerous needs. They have been consuming more food than normal. I have to cope with five of them presently under my care. In some days, they could eat like five to seven times a day! Other days might be more.”
Okoro noted that the period afforded him the time to teach the children a few things, catch up and monitor what they have been doing while in school. At the initial stage, they didn’t understand why we couldn’t go to school, church, salon and also go out to relaxation centres as we often do on weekends. I appreciate that we may never have such period in our lifetime, post-Covid-19, so I am making the most of it filling the role as their first teacher and instructor. National Coordinator D’ Stewards, Ms Toyin Adesokan said the situation has brought about a change, which is the only thing that is constant.
“My family is a large one in the opposite. A child of eight years. I did not do panic buying I only bought what was necessary. I inverted snacks by myself. After praying in the morning and doing house chores, I give her a book to read, she watches the TV, and thanks to NEPA they are doing great in my area. I must confess I allow her go play in my closest apartment. Hand sanitiser is handy. My phone is available for her to read some stories.
Former Special Adviser on Information and Strategy in Lagos State, Mr Idowu Ajanaku said it was a period to bond. “I did a time table for them at a time to play and time to read. They do exercises as my children are footballers…I used to teach stories about my background and the need to work hard. Since they use to sleep late we do vigil. It is indeed a great time but difficult.”
In another narrative, spokesperson, Lagos State chapter Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP), Yetunde Taiwo Adesokan it is pathetic the world is going this kind of era “it has not been easy for anyone, family, individual or organisation. It is not also a good time for the leaders to manage the situation. The pandemic has caused a lockdown throughout the world making the situation very complex because everybody is at home.”
She said this is the time we must all appreciate what prisoners are passing through. “It is really a state of emotional torture but it is good for the safety for us all knowing fully well the COVID-19 is real.
“Children are at home and they are feeding more. Before now the economy is nothing to appraise, as people have to struggle to make ends meet. Most salary earners were unable to get their salary before the lockdown and the stimulus the government is giving is not reaching many people. This is not making the stay at home easy for families.
“The lockdown is like a burden to parents. Apart from the financial aspect parents also have the challenge of monitoring their wards and educating them about the pandemic and need to observe the social distance.”