Everywhere you go, everything you read about or see or talk about seems to be COVID-19 related. In fact, it is quite difficult to see anything else to read about or watch on TV or talk about that is not COVID-19 related. Quite frankly, it is very stressful for a lot of people. I barred myself from watching TV for a while – both local and international – because the breaking and continuous news is all about coronavirus and the havoc it is causing to the whole world.
The deaths. The uncertainty about outcome of research on cure and prevention. The conspiracy theories on the cause of the virus in the first place – some theories so far-fetched that you wonder how people’s brains work to spin those yarns. So COVID-19 is grabbing all the headlines and sending everyone scampering for cover in lockdowns, partial-lockdowns, movement restrictions, boundary and border closures, curfews and the like. In the midst of all this, COVID-20 is sweltering and building up, throwing people into penury and deeper poverty. COVID-20 is our nickname for the economic meltdown occasioned by its brother, COVID-19, and this too is real.
Everywhere you look and go, friends, neighbours, staff and others wear forlorn looks. Any time the phone rings, it is more likely to be from family, friends, your plumber, electrician, tailor, barber, mechanic and others who need assistance. How long can even you cope? That payment you were expecting to hit the account from your client or the one from the already delivered government contract – where is the money? No one is paying anything because everyone is focused on COVID-19, the monster virus. Just one small example of a closed shop or business chain that has closed down in the informal sector with the lockdown and restriction on gatherings is the simple wedding ceremony. Everyone in that business chain is on a ‘permanent condition of shut up’, according to Chief Zebrudaya of The New Masquerade.
Check out this wedding list:
The tailors to make the bride’s wedding dress and the groom’s suit.
The make-up artist for the bride on D-Day.
The limo rentals for both bride and groom.
The Church or Registry offering.
The printer of the IV and programme.
The event planner.
The event venue,
The bouncers and other security men.
The caterers – they are sometimes more than one.
The MC and comedian (Don’t forget the women MCs for the traditional ceremony).
The DJ or music band.
The photographers and video cameramen.
The drinks barmen.
The small chop and fish/chicken BBQ people.
The after event cleaners.
Even the mint currency swap people (they haven’t banned them as at last wedding party).
The transportation – air or land – for honeymoon.
The honeymoon hotel
The list is endless. And all these people have attachments of staff as well as their dependants down the line. If all the above can be linked to just a wedding ceremony, imagine the loss of business for companies in the formal sector and the main economy. That is what COVID-19 has wiped out. COVID-20 may be a bigger monster because the economy touches everybody in every way. The economy will get to the bottom before it comes up again for breath, if it does in our lifetime. COVID-20 is simmering and bringing almost every business down. And it may not end in 2020. It is more likely to be further prolonged than previous recent recessions. And it is worldwide too. The countries that will survive are those that have been more inventive and strategic.
The solution will definitely not be one-size fits all, as even the COVID-19 strategies have shown that the system of locking down of countries in Europe may not necessarily suit us in Africa. The procedure for distributing palliatives in the West may not also suit our environment where we do not have reliable data and demographic statistics. As we have seen, not many Nigerians have been touched by the palliatives we hear about every day in the media. But like COVID-19, COVID-20 is real – even more existent! Like its brother, it is affecting families and homes, small and big businesses, educational institutions, the media, real estate, hospitality, entertainment and sports and every aspect of life and living. And it is here in full force.