July 18, 2020

How COVID-19 is redefining our social life, work ethics

BREAKING: Fresh concerns as Nigeria records 1,867 new COVID-19 cases

Sometime in March this year when it announced its appearance in Nigeria, many people did not take it seriously. Even the authorities were lackadaisical in their attitude. But in a matter of days, as it bared its fangs, the government was forced to immediately put in place drastic measures to curb its spread.

But it was already too late as it could not be held down in one place.

It stormed worship centres, and scattered the sheep leaving the shepherds helpless and confused. The large campgrounds that used to host mass religious gatherings are now desolate.

It entered the learning environment and drove away students and pupils and their teachers. On the streets and offices, friends and colleagues could no longer shake hands or hug each other.

The market place felt its presence as it enforced a new price regime on food items.

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In commercial buses, conductors announced its presence by shouting on top of their voices, “abeg, wear your nose mask o, if you no get, please go down”.

Activities across all ministries took a new turn and no place is fortified enough to stop it as it entered Aso Rock, the seat of power with ease as well as governors’ lodges and commissioners’ guest houses inflicting pains and sorrows. Coronavirus has affected our social life and caused a change in the way we now do things. With COVID-19, it is no longer business as usual in our country.

Its impact on Churches

By Luminous Jannamike

Some clerics said they received with mixed feelings, the period that the people stayed at home without attending worship services.

According to them, although the Covid-19 pandemic had its bad side, it was a God-given opportunity to advance new frontiers as the church learned many new realities on two dimensions.

The first dimension concerned the culture of conducting worship services while the second had to do with the general system of church administration and ministry work.

An Abuja-based cleric, Pastor Taiwo Atanda, General Overseer of Destiny Revival Evangelical Ministry International, described some of the protocols introduced by the Government to curb the spread of the virus after the reopening of worship centers as a little alien to the regular culture of conducting worship services and the actual worship experience.

For instance, he said, “church attendees and religious leaders now wore face mask; people who are sick were no longer allowed to visit worship places for prayers while hand washing facilities and hand sanitizers were now a necessity that must be provided at points of entries and strategic points.

“Also, attendance in religious activities no longer exceeded one-third of sitting capacity while places of worship are now clearly marked such that people sit and maintain two metres distance from each other. And, all forms of direct contact such as handshake as peace signs are discouraged,” Atanda said.

On the wider scale of church administration and evangelical activities, the Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Kaduna State Chapter, Rev. John Hayab, told Saturday Vanguard that the coronavirus pandemic helped to increase the number of cell Bible study and prayer groups in many neighborhoods.

He said: “Churches were discouraged from having large gatherings but it helped those that have not been practicing cell groups system to appreciate the system which results in the birth of many new branches of different church denominations during and after the lockdown.

Throughout history, the church has always grown faster during and after every calamity or challenge and Covid-19 may have just been another blessing that God brought to the church.”

On the issue of evangelism, Hayab stated that “many churches won more converts during and after the lockdown because of the pandemic as a result of the decentralisation of many ministry activities and execution of acts of charity within neighborhoods.

One important responsibility given to the church is that of caring for the brethren. Many churches took this responsibility seriously. They provided palliative support and encouraging words for members and neighbors who have no food and were living in fear because of the curfew and stories about the effects of the virus.”

No longer business as usual at Transportation Ministry

By Dirisu Yakubu

At the Federal Ministry of Transportation, COVID-19 is getting the knocks it deserves given the strict implementation of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC’s health protocols.

From the entrance to the Bukar Dipcharima House, the edifice housing the ministry, all the staff, and visitors, mainly journalists pass through the ritual of having their temperatures checked and palms sanitized.

Unlike in the past when the two lifts taking staff and visitors to the various offices were crammed, not more than five use the lift at the same time these days, in strict compliance to the social distancing campaign.

And unlike the pre-COVID-19 era, only officers on grade level 14 and above are permitted to come to work at the ministry.

Expected to resume by 9 am, they leave for their various destinations at 2 pm, Monday to Friday.

Expectedly, visitors have been discouraged from the ministry as only those accredited with genuine reasons for visiting are permitted to access the building.

However, not much has been lost as virtual meetings and conferences particularly on zoom, take place every now and then with the staff of the various units actively participating.

This way, staff members (junior, intermediate, and senior) have a sense of belonging in contributing their quota to the success of the ministry.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: FG to review decision on school resumption ― Nwajiuba

Reshapes activities in the Senate

By Henry Umoru

With the outbreak of the Coronavirus, COVID- 19 pandemics, it became imperative for the National Assembly to close down its activities to avoid the spread of the virus.

Consequently, the Senate on March 24, 2020, announced the total closure of all its activities for two weeks.

On resumption of activities, the Senate no longer adhered strictly to its 2015 Standing Orders as Amended which was the guiding document of the Upper Chamber.

The first to be set aside to allow for Social Distancing as recommended by the NCDC was Order 11 which states that “a Senator may only speak from the seat allocated to him, provided that the President of the Senate may change the allocation from time to time.”

A new sitting arrangement has therefore been put in place to enable senators to observe social distancing while also wearing face masks.

Apart from the sitting arrangement, the pandemic has also affected the number of days the Senate now sits.

Traditionally, the Senate sits at Plenary on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, but when the senators first resumed, they sat only on Tuesdays and later added Wednesday.

The pandemic has also affected public hearings. Besides the Senate Committee on Public Accounts which holds public hearings, very few committees have held one or two meetings.

There is also the restriction of visitors to the National Assembly while the number of staff in the offices of the senators has been reduced by half.

Hawkers and hangers-on who used to occupy the National Assembly have now been sent packing. The COVID-19 restriction has now created a serene atmosphere for lawmakers to be creative and pay serious attention to lawmaking.

Traders lament effect on prices of items

By Bose Adelaja

When the pandemic hit the market, the government was compelled to regulate trading activities as market operations were classified into two categories which were general market days and food market days.

A market survey conducted revealed the scarcity of some imported goods like plates and other household utensils, in addition, to an increase in the prices of other goods.

At Gorodomu area of Lagos Island, a merchant, Mr. Ikechukwu Thomas claimed that some items were hoarded by some dealers and were occasionally released into the market at exorbitant prices.

Apart from the scarcity of some items, some traders said the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in the prices of goods in the market.

For instance, before the pandemic, a bag of garri which used to cost N5,500 is now N12,000; a bag of rice which was formally N16,000 is now sold for N32,500; a 5 litres keg of vegetable oil that used to be N3,000 is now N3,700; Similarly, a 5-litres keg of palm oil that was N3,000 is now sold for N4,000; a Derica of beans which were N120 before the pandemic is now N250, while a 5kg bag of corn flour that was formally sold for N1,400 is now N1,800. The increase cut across all the items in the market according to the survey.

Aside from the increase in the prices of commodities in the market, traders lamented the restriction in the business hours to 3 pm as against 6 pm. A trader, Mrs. Bolarinwa Sahadat said the 3 pm closing time had brought about unnecessary rush among traders.

According to the Chairman of the market traders, referred to as ‘Babaloja’, Tejuosho Ultra Modern Market Phase 2, Dr. Okechukwu Anorue, the astronomical increase in the prices of commodities caught many traders unaware.

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He said, “due to the ugly development, the traders have resorted to partial smuggling of the commodities to their respective destinations. Apart from this, there are specific days for essential commodities.

Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays are not enough, because some of the commodities are perishable and would have got spoilt before the markets are opened.

We should also bear in mind that the commodities have to be transported from far away northern states which would take about two days or more due to the deplorable condition of the roads across the country”.