Big Brother Star, Anita Natasha Akide, popularly known as Tacha, posted videos on her Instagram page @simply_tacha. One video showed her, boisterous and excited, saying, “I’m not coming back o!” Obviously referring to not coming back to Nigeria.
Her reason for ‘not coming back’ can be found in a statement she wrote below the video post which says, IM NOT COMING BACK OHH! LOCKDOWN IN THE UK IS BETTER.”
But, how true is that for a Nigerian?
What about Nigerians who are yet to be recognised by the system in the UK viz-a-viz those still in search of their residence permit? For these Nigerians, it’s a different ball game. Please don’t let Tacha deceive you that the lockdown is all rosey in the UK! Maybe for Nigerians who are bonafide citizens, but for the hustling Nigerians who are still trying to get their feet on the ground, this coronavirus lockdown may turn out to be their worst nightmare yet.
Debo, a LASU graduate of Microbiology, arrived in the UK three years ago. He is among those struggling to get a residence permit through any means possible. He lives in Peckham in Southwark, central London, a popular suburb for Nigerians who refer to Peckham as mini Lagos probably due to its hustling and bustling spirit.
Debo, speaking via Whatsapp voice message, gave us a firsthand account of life in the UK during the lockdown.
Hear him: “O’boy, no be small thing o! Everything is on lockdown now…except you are on essential services like medical and transport. The price of food in the regulated sector is still the same. But prices of those African food markets have skyrocketed. The government has done something great anyway. They have released over £300billion to help medium and low scale businesses in order to prevent laying off of employees.
“The government has also decided to review the situation every month to see how things progress. We are looking at this situation lingering into the summer, April, May and even June. It is believed that summer, which comes with heat, might help to limit the spread, knowing fully well that the virus is inhibited by high temperature.”
Debo also shed light on how Nigerians, like himself, are coping with the situation in the UK. Hear him: ” It is a no brainer, since I’m just trying to find my feet just like any other person who is trying to find their feet. It is already difficult because when you work here without being fully integrated, the module of your payment is quite different in terms of getting a lower pay cheque and not having access to so many benefits that the usual workers in the country do have.
“For instance, they’ve closed down the club that I, kind of go to hustle, let me use that word ‘hustle’. It means the income I make from that place is suspended indefinitely. It boils down to the fact that I might have to fall back on whatever I’ve saved. If you are not integrated into the system here obviously you can’t benefit from the government. There is a law that stops landlords from renting to people who are not in the system. It’s a tough one for such Nigerians. But for me, I thank God that somehow, I have some little bit of change in savings. That might come in handy during these trying times.”
Debo’s clear picture of situations in the UK should help put a reality check on Tacha’s video which reminds one of ‘Andrew checking out’ of Nigeria of yesteryears!
Let’s finalize with another look at the impact of the lockdown on citizens of the UK. Surely, you’ll expect that whatever government policies enacted in order to curtail the coronavirus through a lock down will impact positively on the citizens. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, before contracting the coronavirus, authorized pubs, restaurants, leisure centres and gyms across the country to shut down. He said: ‘Now we are going to defeat this disease with a huge national effort to slow the spread by reducing unnecessary social contact.
‘We are telling pubs, bars, and restaurants to close tonight and not open tomorrow.
The UK government has also taken the obligation to pay up to 80% of workers who are affected by the lockdown. That is about £2500 monthly.
The homeless are not left out. Also known as Rough Sleepers, this group of people have been allowed to sleep in the central London hotels for the time being.
Already, there is total compliance by the citizens. Major areas such as Canary Wharf tube station,
Bullring shopping centre, Oxford Street and the ever busy M62 motorway are all deserted.
What about the Nigerian government? Would you say, with our current challenges, the government is trying their best? After a month and half under lockdown, would you agree with Tacha that lockdown in the UK is than lockdown in Nigeria?
Kindly drop your response.
That Is the hallmark of a responsible government. Hope this is not too much to ask for.