… Partying despite, Poor economy
*Defying new strain COVID-19
*People now prefer local ethanol-based drinks to beer.
Lagos, the commercial capital of Nigeria, stands alone among the other thirty-five states when it comes to revving up the social scene. She is the melting point and the socio-political heartbeat of the country. But the Spirit of ‘Eko for Show’ is in a fix, finding it difficult loosening or even relaxing her flavour, what makes her “Lagos the city of aquatic splendour”. This is no thanks to the twins’ factors of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the harsh economy in the country now.
An average Lagosian, be he an indigene or a resident, is fun-loving, eventful and creatively fashionable. They simply cannot stop partying, celebrations and merry makings. Therefore in the midst of the oddity that the COVID-19 pandemic and down-turn economy are throwing up, they have started finding their ways around the unwanted vicissitudes and rolling up the drums of enjoyments again.
The metropolitan state has therefore started managing to find her feet, despite the wild waves of the dreaded new strain of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in town and the harsh economy that has seen naira, the country’s currency plummeted to an all-time low of 500 naira to a US Dollar.
This is coming in the wake of a dreadful British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC) report which claimed a research revealing one in every five Lagosian carrying the dreaded Virus, without showing any symptoms. This translate to some 4 million carriers. Officially, as at the time of filing this report, the National Centre for Disease Control’s (NCDC) figure nationally, is 153,000 with 1,863 deaths.
As if the pangs of the devastating pandemic and the crash of the currency are not enough, the National Energy Regulatory Commission, (NERC) the country’s electricity regulatory body also surreptitiously approved and implemented a 100 per cent increase on power tariffs. The other necessity power alternative, petrol, has also been totally deregulated, and a litter now go for as high as 170 naira. Amidst this major health and economic fix, the city of Lagos, the ‘Eko for Show’ is fast re-awakening her bubbles. Social activities are fast coming to life gradually.
This is in spite of the various social distancing and other personal safety guidelines the Federal Government was forced to put in place nationwide in January when the figures of the positive infection cases keep raising. Failure to adhere to any of the rules, may earn an offender a fine of up to 20,000 naira and/or six months imprisonment.
This is necessary, because since the turn of the year, the new strain of the deadly Coronavirus (COVID-19) has taken the country by storm. The FG was forced by the increasing figures of positives cases to introduced some stringent rules and back them with a strong legal teeth. Daily returns of new cases from the NCDC’s keeps oscillating between 800 and 1,500. As at today, the total number of incidental cases is 153,000 with some 1,863 deaths. A figure that is now being disputed by the BBC’s report.
Feferity Magazine Nigerian correspondents can report that Event Centres and Halls, long shut down since the Federal Government locked down the State in April 2, 2020 have started operating, though operating minimally. In Ikeja, our investigations revealed that the operators of the Centres and Halls now put a caveat on the rentage of their facilities. Numbers of guests sitting inside the Hall should not be more than 50, while 100 will be sitting outside. They must all wear face mask properly. Also, they now limit their activities to three to four hours.
We also found out that the costs of rentals have dropped drastically. A highbrow Event Centre along Billings Way, Oregun, Ikeja that was charging 3 million naira per day before the pandemic, now charges 500,000 thousand naira.
The Manager, Mr. Waheed Olakunle, told our correspondents that ‘we can’t shut the facility forever. Some equipment need to be maintained. Also we have reduced our services to the barest minimum. We do not put on all the air conditioners, we reduce the lightening and also, we don’t allow any party to exceed four hours’.
Our investigations also revealed that the facilities managers are scared of violating these rules as Task Force members patrol the Centres/Halls randomly to check compliance. A Centre caught at the Ikeja GRA with over flooding guests and violation of other rules was locked while the owner and the celebrant were fined heavily.
Lagos is particularly more affected by the crises of the year past. The State was locked down for three months, from April 2, to July 1. And by October when the State was still recuperating from the economic effects of the lockdown, the #EndSARS protests rocked the State violently. The State Government puts the costs of replacing/repairs of her properties damaged/looted at over three trillion naira. Several other privates’ individuals and corporate bodies suffer untold financial injury or damage during the protests.
As the smokes of the #EndSARS protestations were smothering down, both the NNPC and PHCN hiked the pump price of the petroleum and tariffs of energy supply. The FG later came out to inform the citizenry that the era of subsidy is gone as both power supply and fuel have been deregulated. The prices of the product and services will now be determined by market forces and exchange rates.
The harsh economy has affected the numerous drinking joints and bars in the metropolis badly. Most of the lousy mega drinking joints operated by different brands of breweries products under various bridges in the metropolis now suffer poor patronages. So also are the drinking bars around the State. Further investigation revealed that most people have resorted into drinking local alcoholic herbal drinks. These alcoholic herbal drinks comes in different funny names: Fire, Kill and Go, Man Power. A small bottle sells for between 50 and 100 naira. We further gathered that with 200 or less, the person is knocked off. This is because of the high ethanol content of these drinks.
Mr. Charles Nwokoedi says he had fixed his weeding for May last year. By January he became hypertensive that he may end not doing it at all. So he hurriedly sent out invites for February 13. ‘To my shock and surprise, the budget went up by more than 250 per cent to host less than 20 per cent of the originally intended guests’
‘I finally decided to get the ritual off my neck this February. I am not growing younger. At 38, I felt it is enough. But the situation in the country is harsh’, he lamented to Feferity Magazine correspondent.
As it were, various fun spots are still not fully opened. The ones that have opened are only offering skeletal services. The twin factors of the pandemic and the harsh economy are at the baseline of the near comatose state of these relaxation spots.
But a drive around some notorious red spots by our correspondents revealed that the fair weather ladies, the commercial sex workers, are back in their spots. At Allen Avenue/Toyin Street, Ikeja, the ladies have started swarming around the usual spots on Allen Roundabout. We also noticed their heavy presence at Obafemi Awolowo Way, also in Ikeja. At Ojuelegba and Surulere, they have also taken positions in their usual spots, hawking sex.
A Police Officer with the Metro Police spoke to the Feferity Magazine correspondent off camera. He said ‘it is very sad indeed, to see any one still carousing sex worker at the period of almost national emergency’
He continued: ‘there is no point arresting these ones. Human Rights or no Human Rights, these ones are lost, only they will destroy many more’.
Though most of the ladies had their face masks on, and reasonably observed the social distancing rule, but the Police Sergeant believed that the health condition in the country, do not give room for indiscriminate close contacts for now’
Afolayan Adebiyi writes from Lagos, Nigeria
Images, courtesy Google.
© Feferity Media Group 2021