Family Dilemmas And Delights of the Lockdown


As each day blurs to the next, families across the states in Nigeria are faced with the universal crisis of fighting the novel coronavirus outbreak, just to stay alive. This situation has dramatically made parents and children to adjust to the reality of obliging to the stay at home measure as advised worldwide by relevant authorities to curb the spread of the pandemic.


Although the lockdown is being eased in some states, including Akwa lbom, there is erupted feeling that the people are still in the space of bewilderment due to the closure of schools and prohibition of social and religious gatherings.


However, with the compelled staying together at home, family members have had some unhealthy factors, that were hitherto kept at bay, to battle with. In most homes, in the course of family members having ample time together, they engage in less or no serious activities at home. The pandemic, therefore, has had extended financial burdens on many households. It has also been of emotional load in some cases, consequently triggering some other health challenges among individuals in most families.


The financial stress could be traceable to recent hike of prices on commodities in the market which gradually took a toll on most families. It is even worsening in that it could be a bit difficult for parents to control their children’s eating habits and these tend to increase because of their continual stay at home with less or nothing much to busy their time.


“My three kids now eat five times a day and they seem not to have a grasp on how food items are sold in the market, their demand on more food is getting me worried as a father”, Mr Okon Okon said while narrating his plight of the COVID-19 lockdown to this reporter.


Mrs Arit Bassey, a private school teacher and mother of four children, who has not received a penny since the pandemic lockdown also gave account of the negative side of the lockdown on her family. Arit said she has gradually incurred more debts more than ever in order to feed her kids and sometimes she had to resort to neighbours’ help for food items. Unfortunately her children, as she explained to this reporter, are a bit selective in what they eat and, according to her, this is gradually putting her on the brink of poverty.


Transportation in Akwa lbom State has also been affected by the pandemic. Transport fare has increased by 100 per cent. For instance, a trip that was N50 prior to the pandemic now goes for N100. The hike in transportation fare has also affected most family members who have to go out to fend for their different needs.
One commuter who prefered anonymity put it this way: “From my place of residece to lbom Plaza was usually charged N50 but during the lockdown, drivers increased it to N100 because they meandered their way through by diverting the main route to avoid their vehicles being intercepted by the security agencies.”


Addressing the issue of families falling into poverty as restriction of movements is observed in most nations, the United Nations has asserted that “An estimated 42 to 66 million children could fall into extreme poverty as a result of the crisis this year, adding to the estimated 386 million children already in extreme poverty in 2019.”


It is no surprise, therefore, that during this unnerving time, a number of persons have faced with some emotional loads in the course of the forced stay at home.
The World Health Organization (WHO) consented to this fact by issuing a warning that as a result of coronavirus and the restrictive measures put in place to contain the outbreak, there might be a negative impact on people’s mental health and well- being.


True to the WHO’s warning note, there was an increase in domestic violence during the lockdown. For instance, in Uyo, Ekeatte who stays with her aggressive and abusive husband shared her ordeal of how her husband, who consistently assaulted her at any slight opportunity , geared up his energy to beat her almost everyday during the lockdown period.
The bad habit, however, took a toll on the lady’s emotions while her husband on the other hand complained of how his wife abused him vocally. Such friction between husband and wife also had ripple effects on the children and such situations must have raised myriad feelings among such kids and their parents as well.


Grace Asuquo , a single mother and trader also narrated the emotional effect of the lockdown by stating that she was not having a good night rest because she had to go to the market as early as 5 am to purchase the best food items in order to attract more customers to her trading business.


“It was a bit difficult coping with early market palaver, the harassment of security agencies in the market square and not having enough people to patronize these goods because they are isolated. All these have made me lost in thought of how l will take care of myself and my only son if this continues,” she said.


As a result of staying home, some employees in private firms have been laid off their jobs and they are left penniless. Such case can be seen in the rumoured plans of Access Bank Plc to lay off some of its staff as well as cut salaries due to the difficulties caused by the pandemic. Although the CBN has intervened to halt the plan to lay off the bank employees, it is feared that some bankers’ jobs situated in branches in Uyo are already on the line. A man or a woman in this situation is likely to be traumatized and this will affect survival of families, especially a family of more than 10 members.


At present, the pandemic is having a profound effect on the children’s well-being as a result of staying at home without engaging in learning processes. Although Akwa lbom State Government came up with measures to fill in the gap of students staying idly at home following the lockdown by offering electronic learning to pupils and students through academic programme in the State Broadcasting Radio Corporation (AKBC), the palliative learning initiative appears only beneficial to children who are more privileged. Those children in interior parts of the state who have no access to any electronic device like radio to listen to the ongoing academic activities would remain at the mercy of indefinite hope of return to normalcy.
Still on wellbeing, the economic hardship experienced by families as a result of the global economic downturn has resulted in higher mortality rate. Evidences of this are most noticeable in the toll of deaths in Kano, where more than two hundred humans were lost within three days of yet-to-be disclosed ailment.
One could wonder the extent of this unsavory situation in families in Akwa lbom State.


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It is imperative to note that the negative effects was at a bit mitigated as a result of government easing the lockdown pandemic but parents still have a responsibility to have a keen look on their kids’ safety since there is still closure of schools. Children have to be obliged to the preventive measures in order not to get infected by the virus. Guardians should also endeavour to ensure their wards are engaged in reading old and new books and get involved more in safe social activities to get rid of boredom of any kind.


Despite the negative effects of the pandemic, the confinement also came with dreamy compensations. Kids got to spend quality time with their parents and a number of spouses have got to have an uninterrupted intimacy, which has a way of reviving their union. Not everyone instinctively wants the lockdown to be eased because of the ample time they now have in doing some hobbies they revel in, especially demolishing a backlog of novels.


“ l really enjoyed the lockdown because l was able to relax with my wife and children properly without having any worry, l just wish it continues”, a driver spilled up beam of smiles while narrating his experience.


Mary Okon , an Akwa lbom civil servant, said she was vey happy when the lockdown was ongoing because her salary was still paid without her going to work, adding that this gave her ample time to do house chores effectively and also enjoy being in the company her parents and siblings.


However, with routines disrupted and families, especially children, thrown into close quarters as the active cases increase on the disease management chart’s board, one can only pray that the virus’ outbreak has an ending episode as we are now faced with a new culture of wearing face masks and observing other preventive measures. Till we brawl and eradicate the enemy, it is certainly not yet time to rest on our oars.


If necessary, it is until we get back to our normal lives and feel alive again that the need to relax certain painful but helpful measures may arise. Until then, KEEP YOUR FAMILY SAFE.

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