Sunday, 3rd March 2024

COVID-19: Why Nigerians fear another lockdown, yet defy safety protocols

By Onyedika Agbedo, Daniel Anazia, Ijeoma-Thomas-Odia, Maria Diamond, Ogechi Eze and Onyinye Ezeilo (Lagos), Lawrence Njoku (Enugu), Ayodele Afolabi (Ado Ekiti), Inemesit Akpan-Nsoh (Uyo), Gordi Udeajah (Umuahia), Charles Ogugbuaja (Owerri), Charles Akpeji (Jalingo), Isa Abdulsalami Ahovi (Jos) and Agosi Todo (Calabar)
09 January 2021   |   4:15 am
The second wave of Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has been ferociously ravaging the country. There has been an astronomic increase in the number of infected persons in the past few days.

The second wave of Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has been ferociously ravaging the country. There has been an astronomic increase in the number of infected persons in the past few days. The casualty figures across the states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, are also rising. Last Thursday, Nigeria recorded another grim statistics with 1,565 confirmed new cases in 25 states and the FCT. The data released by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) also indicated that six people died of the virus. Thursday’s figure pushed the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 95,934, total number of casualties to 1,330 and total number of recoveries to 77, 982.

Among the latest casualties were a former Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Prof. Oyewusi Ibidapo-Obe, who reportedly died as a result of complications from the disease on January 3; a retired professor of science education at the same university, Duro Ajeyalemi, who died on January 6, and Haroun Hamzat, a medical doctor and the younger brother of the deputy governor of Lagos State, who also died on January 6, aged 37.

As the disease spreads, government at all levels in the country and concerned individuals have been crying out loud to caution Nigerians against undermining it.

Last Thursday, Chairman of the Presidential Taskforce (PTF) on COVID-19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, lamented Nigerians’ nonchalant attitude to the virus.

“We must be very aggressive with our communication because we are at a tipping point. The more people are infected, the more the rate of hospitalisations will go up and we will run out of bed spaces and correspondingly, people who have other ailments will not be able to assess healthcare.

“So, people will be dying of COVID-19 and people will be dying of other ailments. There will be a strain on medical personnel and right now, our medical front-liners are under intense pressure to meet the needs of patients who are infected with COVID-19. So, we are at a tipping point and my plea to Nigerians is that we must arrest this transmission,” he appealed.

Last Wednesday, the Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, also expressed concern over rising cases of confirmed persons in the state. The state still retains its position as the epicentre of the pandemic in the country with 34,136 confirmed cases as at 12.57pm yesterday, with 807 new cases recorded last Thursday.

In a note the governor posted on his social media handles, he wrote: “Lagos, there is an urgent need for us to be more circumspect in the way we live, interact and socialise with our friends and family.

“Many people are ignoring COVID-19 warnings and guidelines, thereby exposing themselves and others to the virus. We are well into the second wave of the pandemic. Yesterday (Tuesday), Lagos scarily recorded its highest number of infections in one day – 712. We have already recorded a frightening spike in infection cases. This spike brings positive cases to a total of 32,720 in Lagos alone.

“This second wave comes with severe symptoms, and the higher number of positive cases we detect, the higher number of casualties we are bound to record. We do not want this, but for this to be avoided, we must be intentional and cautious.

“We also do not want to go into another lockdown. It is important that you wear your masks, avoid crowded areas, wash or sanitise your hands regularly and practice social distancing. We simply cannot afford to be complacent at this time.”

Speaking in the same vein, the Chief Medical Director (CMD), Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba, Lagos, Prof. Chris Bode, said COVID-19 second wave was claiming many lives.

Bode, who made the assertion at a news conference in Lagos, last Wednesday said: “The resurgence of COVID-19, through the newly mutated form, is ravaging our land, claiming many lives. Unlike what we witnessed in the first wave, this one is even more easily transmitted and deadlier too.

“It is, therefore, imperative for everyone to, first and foremost, accept that COVID-19 pandemic is not over, and we must prepare to confront it all over again. What we see on the streets, worship centres and social interactions, parties and daily activities call for concern.

“In a period when the ‘enemy’ has doubled back and is attacking us ferociously, we seem to be celebrating a false victory and denying the danger is still around us. We need to observe all the basic rules we have been following all along and wake up to the present reality.”

Some recent survivors of the disease have also appealed to Nigerians to observe the safety protocols against the disease and stay safe.

Singer Paul Okoye, better also known as Rudeboy, who reportedly recovered from the virus on Tuesday, January 5, took to Instagram to warn Nigerians that the disease was real and deadly.

In a post on his Instagram handle @iamkingrudy, he narrated his harrowing experience with the dreaded disease, noting: “Attention!!! COVID is real!!! I know as typical Nigerians or Africans, it is very hard to believe. Some will say ‘experience is the best teacher’. Oh well, the experience and the teacher has visited me and they’ve been dealing with me for more than 10 days now. It is not funny, worst sickness ever!!! Y’all better be careful out there. If you like, believe me; if you like don’t believe me. You can as well wait for your own experience by playing ignorance. Good luck. God help us all.”

The music star added: “If you see me and want to hug me and I push you, do not be angry, I am not ‘forming celebrity’. Let’s learn to greet from afar. There is nothing worse than this illness.”

Another celebrity, Atunyota Akpobome, popularly known as Ali Baba, who also survived the deadly virus recently, has also urged Nigerians to take necessary precautions against the virus. He made the call on his Instagram page, @alibabagcfr last Monday, saying: “COVID-19 is real. Don’t let anyone tell you it is a scam. I just came out of isolation, several people died while I was there. Some of my close friends know and they were very supportive.

“COVID-19 is real. Observe all the protocols, people are dying and it is not a joke. In fact, anyone who says COVID-19 is a scam is a compound idiot and a fool.”

These clarion calls and many others notwithstanding, the masses seem to have thrown caution to the wind. Non-compliance with the safety protocols against the disease has become the new order. And those who defy these protocols giddily justify their actions. Yet they are quick to caution the federal and state governments against ordering another lockdown as part of efforts to contain further spread of the virus.

In Lagos, a resident in Surulere area of the state, Anoruo Chigozie Magnus, unequivocally told The Guardian that he had stopped observing the safety protocols against the disease.

“I don’t take precautionary measures anymore because, to me, the government is blowing the numbers out of proportion. I believe I have my immunity built already and I can’t be infected. We Africans have strong immune system,” he said.

To Ismail Saheed, a resident in Mushin area, Coronavirus is truly in existence but not in Nigeria. Saheed alleged that both the federal and state governments have been using the outbreak of the pandemic not only to embezzle public funds but also to punish innocent Nigerians.

Fun seekers at Elegusi Beach, Lekki, Lagos on New Year day

He said: “I don’t believe that Coronavirus exists in Nigeria. Ever since the beginning of the pandemic, I have never seen or heard of anyone who died of Coronavirus, yet the cases keep increasing. Other countries show us the faces of the Coronavirus victims while sometimes they show us the people without showing their faces. But here in Nigeria, we only hear of it.

“The NCDC centre at Yaba is very close to my place of business but I have never for once caught a glimpse of those infected with the virus. I believe that Coronavirus exists but not in Nigeria; the governments are just using this medium to embezzle funds and punish innocent citizens.”

Adaora Ibeh, a trader at Wey Street Market, concurred with Saheed.

“There is no such thing as COVID-19 in Nigeria. If not, why haven’t we seen or known someone that died of it? If truly there were COVID-19 in Nigeria, more than half of the population would have contracted it because transporters are no longer complying with the government’s rule not to carry passengers at full capacity. I agree that there is truly Coronavirus but not in Nigeria. The governments are stealing from us pretending to be fighting the pandemic,” she said.

According to another resident in Mushin area of the state, Hillary Ugwu, the dishonesty of government over the years was at the root of the skepticisms being expressed by the masses about the disease.

“Do you expect people that are hungry and full of hatred for the government to believe whatever the government is saying? The government has never been truthful to the people. So, whether they are being truthful or not now, the people are not ready to listen and believe. Truth is there is Coronavirus in Nigeria but I don’t believe in the number of confirmed cases released by the NCDC daily.”

Mrs. Morenike Adams, a resident in Isolo area of the state, also observed that “people’s non-compliance with the necessary COVID-19 precautions is born out of hunger, conspiracy theory, lack of trust in government’s analysis and updates on its spread, ignorance and reckless abandon, among other causes. Many of those who fall under the categories aforementioned have no close relatives, friends, colleagues or associates who have died or contacted COVID-19 and so they believe the cases are fabricated or non-existent.”

Asked whether the increasing disdain for the safety protocols by the masses was not an unwitting invitation for another economic lockdown, Omolabake Ibrahim, said a lockdown for a short period was necessary now.

His words: “I actually think a lockdown for a short while or stricter rules should be considered. Though if the government has to order a lockdown, there should be provisions for businesses and families that would be affected. The last one was not handled well at all and I don’t think Nigerians would take the government seriously again because of that but it is becoming scary. I think a lot of Nigerians are not seeing the deaths so close to home. Many Nigerians either think Coronavirus is a scam in Nigeria or it is not life threatening.”

But Busayo Ogunmade, a civil servant, insisted that Nigerians could not afford another lockdown. “This is when the National Orientation Agency (NOA) needs to do massive campaigns and enlightenment, so people can see the reality of COVID-19. Nobody wants to die; if the people know better they will act better,” she added.

Nwakor Chidi Daniel, a resident in Surulere, agreed with her. “COVID-19 has come to stay. What I think the Federal Government should do is to channel their energy to sensitising the masses on the danger of the disease and how to go about avoiding it. You can’t lockdown the country where the majority cannot afford two square meals a day. The cost of foodstuff is high and the government must do something about it. I think the negative effects of locking down the country due to the second wave of COVID-19 would outweigh the gains. The Federal Government should look into the sorry state of our public healthcare institutions and ensure they are functional.”

For Magnus, another lockdown will result in anarchy. “People will revolt against them. Remember what happened during the #EndSARS protest. People came out in their numbers against the government. Nigerians won’t accept a second lockdown. There will be no provisions to sustain the masses during another lockdown. During the first lockdown, people were ignorant. Now, the masses are smart.”

In other states of the federation, residents also expressed mixed reactions over the second wave of COVID-19 and the efforts to contain its spread. Below are the stories:

Ekiti: Fayemi Orders Strict Enforcement Amid Residents’ Disdain For Safety Protocols
A RESIDENT in Ado Ekiti, Mrs Oyebanji Yetunde, told The Guardian that she no longer takes precautions because she believes she has seen the worst of the Coronavirus pandemic.

She also expressed doubts about the sincerity of government regarding the pandemic. Yetunde said government was using the pandemic to get financial donations.

“Although, I believe that COVID-19 is real, I doubt the sincerity of government about the severity of the pandemic. I don’t want to continue to suffer myself by covering my mouth when I have doubt that the virus has come back again,” she said.

Adeyemi Johnson, a civil servant, said he only observes the protocols when in public places so as to escape sanctions.

“Government said we should avoid crowded places. Please go to Oja Oba market and see how people massed around without observing any protocol yet there haven’t been reported cases of the virus in the market,” he said.

Babaagba Dare, a resident in Ikere Ekiti, said the way government has handled the pandemic has made people to resign to fate.

Citing the issue of Christian cross over services, Dare said the government shifted the cross over services from midnight to 6-8p.m. as if it took permission from the pandemic not to attack people by that time.

“There are so many questions begging for answers about the pandemic. We have cases of people who went to hospitals to treat malaria only to be given receipt of COVID-19 upon their discharge. Some don’t even have symptoms of Coronavirus but were bundled into isolation centres. For me, I have simply resigned to fate,” Dare said.

On the possibility of second lockdown, Ojo Sunday, who works with a non-governmental organisation, said the government should jettison the idea if they don’t want Nigerians to revolt.

“If they impose any lockdown, the #EndSARS crisis will be a child’s play. They cannot take away our freedom and means of livelihood without any form of reliefs or palliatives spread across everybody to cushion its effect,” he said.

For Damilola David, a student of the Federal Polytechnic Ado Ekiti, students would not be able to cope with another lockdown because they had lost a lot of ground academically.

“Government must fashion a way of tackling the pandemic rather than ordering a lockdown. I learnt that many countries are vaccinating their citizens. Why can’t the Nigerian government take such initiative? Can’t they see that lockdown is not the solution?” he queried.

Meanwhile, the Ekiti State government has imposed fresh restrictions to safeguard residents.

Governor Kayode Fayemi has instructed the taskforce and law enforcement agents to begin aggressive enforcement of the new rules.

Affected by the latest restrictions were worship centres, which have been directed to return to one service on worship days of Friday, Saturday and Sunday and at half of their sitting capacities.

Fayemi also directed that schools in the state would remain closed till January 18 while vigils, partying and clubbing were suspended till further notice.

He also directed civil servants on Grade Level 12 and below to stay at home till January 18 when further instructions about their resumption would be issued.

According to him, protocols regarding wedding and burial ceremonies remain in force. He also directed supermarkets, event centres, hotels and bars to strictly ensure that social distancing measures were put in place and followed accordingly.

Something Must Kill A Man, Say Akwa Ibom Residents
THE nonchalant attitude of Nigerians towards the precautionary measures against COVID-19 is quite noticeable in Akwa Ibom State.

Most residents in the state that spoke with The Guardian in Uyo dismissed the presence of the disease despite the fact that records show that some indigenes of the state had died of it.

One Okon Etim at the popular Akpan Andem market said: “My brother, let these people not deceive us any longer. Some people are using this COVID-19 to make gains from the Federal Government and the World Health Organisation (WHO).”

Almost all those that responded to questions on the subject matter spoke in similar vein, while some resigned to fate by quipping: “Something must kill a man.”

But they urged the government not to contemplate ordering another lockdown, noting that what befell them during the first time was still staring them in their faces.

“My brother, please tell the government not to try lockdown again. It really affected many businesses especially small-scale businesses like us. Go to NEPA Line, Wellington Bassey Way and adjourning streets; you will understand what I am telling you now. All shops along those streets have been closed down because there is no money to go to market again to replenish our wares. We are managing now to see if we can overcome the first shock. So any idea of lockdown again should never be contemplated,” said another respondent who pleaded anonymity.

Worried by the attitude of residents in the face of the second wave of the virus, the state Governor, Emmanuel Udom, recently warned that it was better to adhere strictly to the COVID-19 protocols than experience another lockdown.

The governor, who gave the warning in his Christmas message to the people, directed that the sign of ‘No Mask, No Entry’ should be conspicuously placed in public places and enforced. He also directed that hand washing points with running water and sanitisers must be provided at such places while advising residents to maintain social distancing in their interactions with one another.

Abia Re-Launches Sensitisation Campaign, As Residents Insist COVID-19 Has Been Eradicated
Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, has re-launched the COVID-19 sensitisation campaign in a bid to protect residents from the second wave of Coronavirus pandemic.


The Inter-Ministerial Committee on COVID-19, which is headed by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mr Chris Ezem, is leading the campaign.

Under the current measures, residents are to confirm their COVID-19 status by visiting the state two Molecular Laboratories at Aba and Umuahia for testing.

Wearing of facemask has also been made mandatory in the state just as public gatherings have been banned.

Also, eateries were directed to henceforth operate on take-away basis and in full compliance with prescribed COVID-19 preventive protocols.

Ikpeazu mandated the state Homeland Security Team under the headship of the Homeland Security Commissioner, Prince Damian Okoli, to enforce these measures.

However, residents’ compliance with the measures has been abysmal despite the current efforts by the government.

Some residents interviewed by The Guardian claimed that COVID-19 had been eradicated hence their nonchalant attitude to the safety measures.

Madam Lucy, a trader in Umuahia, stated that the security agencies has stopped threatening to arrest people without facemasks even as government has stopped distributing palliatives, which, she said, proves that the pandemic was over.

Coronavirus Does Not Exist As Projected, Imo Residents Insist
Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma, has rolled out restrictive measures to contain the spread of the second wave of COVID-19 in the state.

Among the measures was a directive to workers aside from the Permanent Secretaries and political appointees to work from home from December 21, 2020, till further notice.

Consequently, the gates to the premises of the Imo State secretariat were locked.

He also directed that not more than 100 persons who must wear facemasks should gather, while safety protocols must be obeyed at all times in public.

The governor has also put in place mobile courts to try offenders.

Nevertheless, these measures have not compelled residents to abide by the precautionary measures against the disease.

Even in churches, worshipers do not wear facemasks and there is no compliance with the social distancing rule.

Many residents, who spoke with The Guardian, said the virus does not exist as projected, hence their lifestyles.

They also warned against another lockdown, saying they would resist it.

According to Nkechi, a Point of Sale (POS) operator, the inability of both the federal and state governments to provide enough palliatives during the last lockdown would encourage the masses to disobey another lockdown.

Another resident, Alex Manu re-echoed her view, saying: “There is no need to ask a hungry man to go inside without food. Government should provide food if they want people to obey them.”

‘If We Can Live With Malaria, We Can Also Live With COVID-19’
FROM every indication, Taraba State residents seem not to be perturbed by the new Coronavirus strains that have been spreading rapidly and consuming lives more than when it erupted in 2019.

The unconcerned attitude of the people towards halting the spread of the second wave of the virus was lucidly displayed in all the nooks and crannies of the state during the just concluded yuletide.

Elected politicians who ought to be role models by strictly observing the preventive measures stormed their constituencies with crowds without an iota of adherence to the safety protocols.

The Guardian also observed that clerics were not helping matters as they have continued to play host to thousands of worshippers with very poor adherence to safety protocols.

The state taskforce assigned with the responsibility of working round the clock to prevent further spread of the pandemic also appear to have gone to sleep with its eyes tightly closed.

But contrary to observations, the Commissioner for Information and Reorientation, Danjuma Adamu, who is a member of the taskforce, claimed that the state government had put in place relevant measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

Although he admitted that the “COVID-19 pandemic is still with us “ and that “a number of countries around the world have taken measures including partial lockdowns to check the second wave of the pandemic”, he was unable to point out the measures so far put in place by the state government to contain its spread.

Some residents, who spoke with The Guardian, said they were no longer afraid of the disease.

“If we can live with malaria despite the havocs it has been causing for several decades, why can’t they leave us to cope with this COVID-19 if at all there is a disease like that,” said a resident who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Another resident, Madam Alice, said: “As I am talking with you now, our so-called government has not come to our aid by supplying us with facemask, sanitizers, etc.

“When we are even finding it difficult to get drinking water, how do you expect us to be washing our hands regularly.  As far as I am concerned, we are supposed to wash our hands when we want to eat or when we finish eating. My brother, we are tired of washing our hands without seeing foods in front of us.”

For Ahmed Yunus, “if only your government would do the needful by supplying us with all these things you have just mentioned, may be some of us would try and use them.”

COVID-19 Is Mere Gimmick, Plateau Residents Claim
CONCERNED about the lackadaisical attitude of the Plateau State residents towards the second more deadly wave of COVID-19, Governor Simon Lalong has been pleading with the people to take the guidelines of preventing the disease very seriously.

The governor had recently met with traditional and religious leaders and chairmen of the 17 local council areas to implore them to sensitise their subjects about the disease and urge them to take preventive steps against its spread.

“We need to work hard to prevent another lockdown because it will affect the state economically. There are many people in the hospital and some have died. We need to put our political and ethnic differences aside and work by sensitising our people and various groups on the second wave of COVID- 19 pandemic,” Lalong had stressed.

A Jos resident, Mr. Samson The Great, however told The Guardian that any attempt by government to impose another lockdown would be met with heavy resistance.

According to him, “government should not talk about another lockdown because there will be ‘war’. You can only deceive the people once but not twice. In fact, enough is enough. This COVID-19 is a mere gimmick. African leaders want a way of amassing wealth. COVID-19 is not here.”

On his part, Mr. Chris Ibikun, a graphic designer, said government wants distraction because it has failed the people.

“In the first place, Federal Government gave palliatives and the state government refused to give us but hoarded them. That is why we cannot trust and believe them,” he noted.

Ibikun added that, this time around, government wants to make money because they know that this is their last tenure.

“Schools were supposed to resume on January 4, 2021 but now it has been shifted to January 18. Again, COVID-19 is not here. The majority of those who died of the disease are old people.

“In Africa, Nigeria inclusive, we have malaria. Outside the continent or outside Nigeria, COVID-19 is their malaria. They just want a way of ‘eating’ Nigeria’s money,” Ibukun stressed.

Enugu: Residents Trust God For Protection As Govt Stops Enforcing Protocols
There are no new measures put in place by Enugu State government against the rampaging second wave of Coronavirus (COVID-19) disease. Except the campaign jingles on local radio stations to sensitise residents against the virus, the state government appears to have given up on other protective measures.

Government had during the first wave of the disease rolled out daily figures of casualties as well as intensified campaigns on the streets. It also ensured that public places maintained the necessary protocols that helped to contain an upsurge.

But since the second wave of the disease, which is said to be more deadly, government has not released casualty figures more than once, making it difficult to know the rate of infections in the state.

While the near lack of commitment by the government persists, residents on their part have continued to carry on as if the disease does not exist. In fact, you could count the number of persons on the streets that move about wearing facemasks. Public places that before now installed hand-washing facilities have dismantled them, just as procuring hand sanitisers is now seen as waste of resources.

The usual handshake has returned, even as sitting arrangements that were earlier done with COVID-19 spacing recommendation are no longer observed.

Speaking with The Guardian on why residents no longer observe the COVID-19 protocols, especially the wearing of masks, Mrs Pauline Ikediegwu, explained that people were tired of living “as if we are prisoners”.

She added: “What I can say is that it depends on individual perception. But I can tell you that a good number of Nigerians feel that covering your face all the time and getting away from things you were known for are like living in prison. Personally I go out with my facemask but I don’t wear it unless I enter a crowded place.

“Again, there are places you enter with facemasks and people will be looking at you as if you are a stranger. Our people are not used to this kind of practice; that is why they will never abide by it. You may put a taskforce to hold anybody not wearing facemask and you will still see that they will deliberately refuse to wear them and rather pay the fines.”

On his part, Obinna Okoro, a businessman, stated: “For me, I no longer remember that there is anything like that. I wake up every morning and pray to God to guide and protect me. I believe in the power of prayers and since it has not pleased God yet to take me away, I don’t think it is by putting on facemask and whatever that will elongate my life.

[files] Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha. Photo: TWITTER/FAANOFFICIAL

“God is the author of every life. Facemask cannot work when God is not working for somebody. So, I don’t think it is the remedy. The thing there is that I know some of the precautionary measures, especially when I am leaving my house. I try as much as possible to observe my distance anywhere to ensure that I don’t get in contact with people easily.”

Ikechukwu Umunna, a student, said the last time he wore facemask was during the transaction he had with one of the commercial banks in the state on Christmas Eve.

“In fact, I didn’t know I won’t be allowed into the banking hall without my facemask. I was made to patronise a vendor somewhere. After that, I have not worn facemask again.”

The truth is that we are aware that we can get out of this matter. It is like any other disease and sickness people suffer. So, why should I kill myself wearing what our forebears never wore?” he queried.

On what would happen should Federal Government make good its earlier threat to impose another lockdown, he stated that the people would resist it “because government has not been truthful with its policies and handling of this disease.”

Umunna added: “Let them try it and see what will happen. Nobody will obey it. When they locked down the country the other time, they used the opportunity to loot resources and in the process killed some persons. We will resist them and resist whatever they are coming with.

“What will they be providing for Nigerians this time around? A government that cannot pay salaries, a government that cannot run social services, a government that cannot provide security. So, what will they be providing to Nigerians as palliatives? To me, it is not possible. Let them allow the people to continue in their pain; one day God will answer our prayers and make things right for the country.”

‘Government Playing Politics With COVID-19 Pandemic’
Residents in Cross River State have said that any attempt by the Federal Government to order another lockdown would be disastrous for the country’s economy.

They argued that Nigeria was still struggling to recover from the effect of the first lockdown caused by Coronavirus pandemic.

Christian Njoku, who said he uses his facemask occasionally because most people don’t use it any more, explained that the first phase of the lockdown crippled many businesses.

He said: “We have not been able to survive the first lockdown. Whatever we are suffering now is somehow a repercussion of the first lockdown because we were not able to manage the first lockdown well. We saw how the palliative issue went. How many people received it and how many did not receive? Most people were in their homes and could not do their business.

“In Cross River, we are a bit fortunate because it wasn’t that serious in the state. But what of those that are doing businesses that take them outside the state? It was a problem. I visited the border twice and I saw the suffering people were going through. So, calling for a second lockdown will be terrible for the country.”

On whether he takes the necessary precautions against the disease, Njoku stated: “I use my facemask. I don’t really need anyone to tell me to use my facemask. The challenge is that I don’t use it as often as I used to because when you see others moving with their facemasks, you are just motivated to use it. But these days, when you wear your facemask and go into the streets, you seem to be the only person using it.”

He added: “Personally, I have always seen COVID-19 as real. The challenge is just that we have seen a lot of people contract the disease and survive it. So, it is becoming more and more like it’s not a serious thing. I don’t want to be a victim anytime but for the society, it is more and more looking like not a very serious disease. You can get it and get cured. It is not being seen like the deadly disease any longer.”

A pharmacist, who simply identified himself as Abraham, also said Nigerians were not ready to go back to any form of lockdown.

He stated that the government has been playing politics with the COVID-19 pandemic, saying that was why Nigerians lost trust in them and stopped using their facemasks and observing other safety protocols.

He said: “If you look outside, you will see that people are not adhering to any of the preventive protocols. I guess it is from the first wave. As an average Nigerian, our perception was that some of those things were politically engineered.

“We were looking for those people that they said died of the virus. So, this second wave, people are thinking the same thing.

“As you can see, I’m not wearing a facemask and I’m in a place where I should use protective measures. But the thing is beyond our power. It has to do with our perception about COVID-19 and how the government has handled it.

“Once an average Nigerian is convinced of an issue, he or she does whatever he/she is required to do. So, if the government can make us believe that there is a second wave of COVID-19 and it is not political, we will adhere to the protocols. It is not a big deal to wear facemask and to keep social distance.”

However, the state government has commenced the sensitisation of the people on the dangers of letting down their guards against the disease through religious and traditional leaders in the state.

The Commissioner for Health who doubles as the Chairman, COVID-19 Task Force, Dr. Betta Edu, disclosed this to The Guardian in a chat in Calabar.

“First and foremost we have started sensitisation and I have engaged the Christian Association of Nigeria, Muslim Association of Nigeria and all those who are key stakeholders in seeing that they can make members of the public to protect themselves.

“We are also trying to work with the Federal Government through the PTF to help Cross River State to improve on our testing because our labs were vandalised.

“Beyond these, we are reviewing the situation to see if we can bring back the task force in full force. Presently, we are only doing part time,” he explained.