By Temidayo Musa

Almost 26 million children have seen their schools close in Nigeria. Unlike before, when schools are shut down or when teachers are on strike, students feel so elated and see it as a time to do whatever they want to do. But as COVID-19 is spreading gradually through Nigeria, this has caused mixed feelings for children, women and youth who do not know when everything will return to normal in a country that lacks preparedness for this kind of pandemic.

 

Education

According to UNESCO monitoring, over 130 countries have implemented nationwide closures, impacting over 80% of world’s student population. Several other countries have implemented localised school closures and, should these closures become nationwide, millions of additional learners will experience education disruption.

On 20th March 2020, the Federal government directed all schools to close immediately as a precautionary step aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19 which has become a global threat. While some schools have finished their second term examinations, some are yet to complete the term. While the majority of fee paying schools have moved to online learning, the greater part of learners from poor and low income homes are at a disadvantage as they have limited or no access to alternative learning platforms provided by the government. Education in the emergencies is heavily impacted as the lockdown and restriction of movement has rolled back many gains in education for learners in the north-eastern part of Nigeria.

 

Women

As lockdown takes effect in affected states in the country on March 30th, there has been a high rate of panic buying coupled with a sharp rise in prices for essential food and groceries. Many market women are afraid of losing their perishable goods if they are not sold before the lockdown takes effect.

Also, many women are trapped in their homes and marriages with partners that abuse them on all fronts and underage girls are exposed to unwanted sex, adolescent pregnancy and transactional sexual related activities that might not make them resume school when they reopen. On the domestic front, the burden of care largely falls on the woman, the household chores and catering for the wellbeing of others expose them and put their short & long term health at risk.

 

Youth

The issue about the spread of virus in Nigeria is worrisome and this is because a lot of people who know are not taking it serious. With conversations I have had with "educated" people and with what I read on social media (Twitter), it shows me that Nigeria is in big trouble if the situation gets worse. The educated do not act like they are educated at all. I wonder what the "uneducated" will do. - Opeyemi Famodimu

In 2019, the unemployment rate in Nigeria stood at 6.11 percent while adult illiteracy was at 35 percent. Many of the local people living in rural areas still believe that COVID-19 is a hoax, “a rich man’s disease” or God’s judgement for wicked people.

Many youths who own small business have been affected because of temporary market lockdown. Those whose employers cannot afford to set up home working options have been told to stay at home without pay until work resumes. Many are at the mercy of philanthropists and celebrities on social media who are giving away cash for people to stock up during the lockdown period. Those working in the informal sectors and daily jobs have been badly hit because of the restriction in movement. There have been reported cases of armed robberies in different states and many youth are at risk of deteriorating mental health.

 

Government Actions

The rich and politicians stayed boundless, careless and relentless in their lifestyle. Hence their unending appetite for foreign 'everything' led to the incursion of novel coronavirus that has brought Nigeria to her knees, trouble for the 90% dependent on the informal sector, grounding of our education system, disruption to the lives of women, youth and children who had hitherto coped with failed health care system and now left with only the glimpse of hope in God through prayers and supplication - Eniola Olowu

Lagos & Ogun State government have decided to opt for digital learning on state television and online but the price of internet data is expensive and this might deny underprivileged learners access, and constant electricity is still a problem in the country. The Lagos State Domestic Violence Unit has also embarked on awareness for women at risk during this lockdown and self-isolation period but many critics have said that this might not be effective considering other forms of violence that can come to women.

The Federal Government of Nigeria announced that there will be conditional cash transfer to the poorest households in the country and the Lagos State Government launched a Food Bank project to distribute food items for households that needs them during this period but many of the citizens believe this will be politicised and the funds will be subverted by corrupt politicians.

To conclude, “The COVID-19 issue has made me realise that there is need to work together to educate people, I mean quality education. The war is no longer about states fighting for power but rather human survival and development in the international community.” Opeyemi Famodimu