The first case of COVID-19 in Nigeria was reported on the 28th of February 2020. 28th of June thus makes it four months since the virus crept in, demystifying the whole idea of borders. When the virus hit Nigeria, various steps were taken to curb its spread. Some of these measures include lockdown imposed by states, ban on interstate movement, closure of schools and religious centres, regulated market days, social distancing and total curfew in some cases.
As expected, all of these affected the economy as the flow in exchange of goods and services were put on hold for a while. In return, various sectors in Nigeria suffered severe blows.
For one, the price of crude oil dropped to almost as low as US$30 in March, because of the sharp decline in demand for oil. Also, the stock market suffered damages as investors were known to have pulled out their investment. Nigeria lost over NGN2.3 trillion a few weeks after the first case was recorded.
To understand the effect of coronavirus on traders who mainly rely on market activities and its boom, CAMPUS REPORTER spoke to some traders in Oyo State. The Iyaloja Of Adelabu Market, Chief Mrs Bunmi Adesanya, stated that the market has never been the same since the virus attacked. She commented that there had been a drastic decrease in marketing activities, a decrease in sales and trading hours due to the curfew.
“Around the time the virus was first recorded in Oyo State, we were given hand sanitizers and nose masks, and the market was disinfected. But when we reopened, sales just dwindled,” she said.
Another trader, known as Iya Saki who sells raw food in the same market, said she only goes to the market to avoid sleeping at home, as there isn’t much of a difference each day.
“Even some people with stalls or shops in the market have not been coming regularly because they don’t want to keep wasting money on transport,” she said.
At the Oja-Oba Market in Ibadan, a pepper seller popularly called Iya Tawa said the only good thing in the last few months was the Eid, which brought a lot of people to the market; otherwise, it’s usually quiet compared to prior years and sales are not very high.
A common trend observed by CAMPUS REPORTER in each of these markets is the slight hike in price. Many traders use Covid-19 and measures associated with it as excuses for the increase in prices to justify the price skyrocketing.
At the meat sellers’ stall at Adelabu Market, Oyo, a popular meat seller talked about how he and his counterparts have chosen to reduce the size of meat they buy daily because the price is outrageously high.
On the price, Mr Samson Okonlita, the manager of Pragmatic Financing and Accounting Forum (PEFA forum), a hub that provides business advice and training for enterprises said, “Because of the reduction in manufacturing output orchestrated by the virus, there is a limited supply. But demand remained the same, or not as much as the supply for these commodities, causing an increase in price.”
When CAMPUS REPORTER inquired about how things could be made better for traders in the market, the Iyaloja of Adelabu Market said that it would be best for the government to open up the economy, and allow free movement of citizens within and interstate.
“Let them free us, and things will go back to its usual,” she said. Although talks about coronavirus were not uncommon in the market, it is however still strange that many do not believe that the virus exists.
Meanwhile, there has been no total lockdown in Oyo State, and food markets have been known to open with a curfew of 8 pm to 5 am. However, in later development, the Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde relaxed the curfew to be from 10 pm to 4 am, on the 15th of June, 2020.
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