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EXCLUSIVE: How Hunger, Irregular Power Supply Frustrated Lagosians During 5-Week Lockdown (Video)

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Lagos market

By Gbenga Odunsi, Lagos

“The worse of coronavirus is hunger.

“Many people in this area are suffering from hunger. Government promised to dispatch food items like Rice and Semovita, but people in this axis have not seen anything of such.

“So many people are dying of hunger.

“How would people survive without food during this lockdown?

“This is worse than coronavirus,” says Okwudili Jumbo, a resident of Orile Iganmu area of Lagos.

Complaints and wailing by residents in several parts of Lagos have trailed the palliative announced by the Federal and Lagos State governments to cushion effects of the lockdown imposed on the state to contain the further spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

President Muhammadu Buhari ordered a 14-day lockdown due to the coronavirus epidemic on Sunday, 29 March 2020, via a national broadcast to Nigerians. In his words, “I am directing the cessation of all movements in Lagos and the FCT for an initial period of 14 days with effect from 11pm on Monday, 30th March 2020.

Of Nigeria’s over 3,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, as of May 7, 2020, over 1,300 cases, were detected in Lagos with 103 number of deaths recorded. But a major concern surrounding the lockdown, which kicked off in late March is the inability of many Lagosians to stock up on food and other essentials for survival during the lockdown period.

Many Lagosians, however, have complained about the difficulty faced in feeding themselves. The stay-at-home order has cut countless people who live hand-to-mouth in the city off from their only source of survival.

A female resident at Orile who does not want her name in print, said, “the situation is getting worse everyday. Many people are hungry. I have four children at home. I left them this morning because there is no food to eat at home. I came out this morning to see if I will get help from people. Many people have stopped work and some have lost their job, but when you keep people inside without any means of survival, the problem will  keep getting worse.”

Residents at Aguda area of Surulere say they only received packages from private individuals but none from state or federal government.

Paul, a trader at Aguada market, Surulere area of Lagos said, ”Government has not given us anything. We are only managing and surviving on our own. We traders come out in the morning to sell. Others who are not opportune to sell their wares come here to beg us for money.

Lagos Emergency Food Response Initiative — a failed project

The Lagos State Emergency Food Response Initiative was established to extend relief materials and distribution of food to the poor and vulnerable people in the state.

Lagos governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, announced an economic stimulus package that covers taking food to the doorsteps of millions of residents in Nigeria’s most populous city.

The handout initiative from the Lagos state government aims to provide rations to an initial 200,000 households to last them through the two-week shutdown.

This project, it was gathered, was to be spearheaded by Lagos State Emergency Food Response Initiative.

Sanwo -Olu said that the aged citizens from 60 years and above with a family of six and the most vulnerable would be given priority, especially those who relied on daily wages for survival.

“We have packaged dry food stimulus for about 200,000 families in the first instance for a household of a husband, wife and about four children. We would be giving bags of rice, bags of beans, garri, bread, dry pepper, and we are trying to see if we can add water and some elements of Vitamin C. Each ration, we believe, is going to be able to last a household of husband, wife and about four children for, at least, a minimum of 14 days so that our advocacy around ‘stay at home’, ‘stay with your loved ones’ will be respected,” Sanwo-Olu said.

Lagos emergency food response operational vehicle

Lagos emergency food response operational vehicles

A trader at Lawanson market, Mrs Ogbonnaya Chinelo says she is aware the state government is distributing relief packages to residents, but they have not extended it to Surulere local government area of the state.

“Nobody in Lawanson has received relief package from the state government. I used to ask people around and no one claims to have received any package, at least for now.”

“The state’s emergency food response team’s distribution process is very poor,” says Mrs Tosin Ajose — a middle-aged woman.

“They came to my street, they gave only four bags of rice; a street of about 30 houses.

“As a person, I feel the relief material should be distributed in a way that everybody will receive.

“The governor has tried his best but we, the masses, are the problem of ourselves.”

Read Also: FACTBOOK: Coronavirus In Nigeria — Everything You Need To Know

Another resident, Aigbe Miracle said she heard government is distributing food but she hasn’t seen anyone receive relief package.

“Individuals are the only ones sharing food on this street; I have not seen government sharing food on this street.

“A woman told me that in her street where there are four tenants, Lagos food response team brought one ‘derica’ of rice and beans each, with bread of N100. This means four tenants must share one derica of the items brought, meanwhile, the woman has four children at home. How will they survive with such little items?”

Residents of Orile came out en masse to lambast the Lagos state Emergency Food Response team over perceived bias the distribution of stimulus packages to Lagosians.

They further cried out about hunger that cannot be helped due to the lockdown. The residents claim they have not sighted or received any stimulus package in the area.

They, however, admitted that Lagos police is doing its best to secure the area from the infamous one million boys rampaging the state.

A resident, Bernard, a businessman says “In terms of government palliative, nothing is happening at Orile. Whatever it is the government is sharing, they should please extend their arms to this area because we have not received food or money, even electricity is not constant. We are really suffering. The worst thing is the price of commodities are inflating everyday, and there is no money for us to buy. All of us have been left at home to die to hunger.”

Another resident at Orile, Michael, a trader, says, “I have not received anything from the government, not even a recharge card of N100. I only receive messages from NCDC everyday. I am not going to survive with the messages.”

At Oniru, Eti-Osa local government area of Lagos, residents trooped out to get relief materials from a foundation spearheaded by music entertainer, BankyW. Resident at Oniru slammed the state government for abandoning them to their fate. They showered praised on the music entertainer for taking up the responsibility of a failed Lagos government.

Another Lagos resident, Moses Otayokhe, a retired civil servant, said text messages were sent around by Lagos state government, including me, asking me to confirm if they still leave in a certain address. I replied the text messages several times, but up till now, nothing has been done. So, what do you expect somebody like me to do, I don’t work, I am a retiree.”

 Palliative For APC Members Only

Lawanson market at Surulere area of Lagos was beehive of activities when Information Nigeria visited. The residents bemoan stimulus packages distributed by the state government.

Many of them confirmed that the packages largely politicized and were distributed to members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

Both buyers and sellers at the main market slammed Lagos and federal government for abandoning them during the lockdown period.

Olamilekan Sulaimon, a respondent at Lawanson market, said he hasn’t received any palliative from the state government. He says food items were distributed to members of the ruling All Progressives Congress APC only.

“Dem no give us anything. Dem dey do am as APC member. APC member nah in dem dey give food. But e no suppose be like dat. Na all of us vote for them.”

Residents at Oniru queue for relief materials from Banky W

Another resident, who simply identified himself as Kingsley, said: Itire Ikate Chairman brought out relief materials but his boys only distribute to APC members only. If you don’t go there with your APC card, you will not get any palliative. People are suffering very well in this area. If government wants to share food, they should share for the masses because Nigerians are crying.”

Corroborating the previous respondents, another resident — an aged woman, Mrs Egwuonwu — said, I have not seen anybody that received palliative, except the day they were sharing bread. The main palliatives were given to APC members only.”

Ambrose Dike says “Government promised to send food materials, and when they send it, it doesn’t get down to the people. The government is using the relief package as political affair. That is why you see people coming out to fend for themselves.”

 ‘Audio’ Conditional Cash Transfer

“E ma pariwo
“Dem money na just audio (Na audio)
“E ma pariwo oh
“Na just audio…”

The above isn’t a poem. It is a lyrics from Rude Boy’s ‘Audio Money’ music.

Audio Money is a trending Nigerian slang that takes a swipe at social media influencers and celebrities who live fake social media lives; flaunt material possessions they never really owned just to look good and wealthy before their teeming social media followers and fans.

Their monies or wealth are never seen in reality but only on social media, hence, the term ‘Audio Money’.

The Federal Government’s Conditional Cash Transfers (CCT) has received several knocks from Lagosians, and has been termed ‘audio money’.

The cash transfer scheme, which is part of the Social Investment Programme (SIP) of the current administration is under the newly-created Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development and being superintended by the Minister, Sadiya Umar Farouq.

On March 30, the Federal Government announced palliative measures such as food distribution, cash transfers and loans repayment waivers to ease the pains of its restrictive policies during this difficult time.

But many Lagos residents who spoke to Information Nigeria said they have neither received any money nor food items from the Federal Government since it was announced.

Edet Asuquo, a driver said, “ Government say dem go send money, me I no see any money wey dem send o. Na hungry dey catch me, even dis morning wey I comot, I wan go find something wey me and my family go chop.”

Mr Samuel, a businessman, says both the federal and state government are greedy. According to him, other foreign countries are helping their citizens during the lockdown but the Nigerian government have refused to help its citizens to cushion the hard effect of the lockdown.

“Tomorrow, they will say they don’t know how to pay money into our account, but they have our BVN, account number, and voters card. They know what to do but they refuse it.”

Olamilekan Sulaimon said, “They asked us to stay at home, but they didn’t provide anything for us. Before Buhari will ask us to stay at home, he should be able to provide at least N5000 or N2000 for every citizen. The N2000 gan we no even see anything. Make dem follow Buhari talk make he share money.”

Information Nigeria understands that five states of the federation, including Lagos, Delta, Borno, Ogun, and Ebonyi were conspicuously excluded from the list of states currently benefiting from the federal government’s N20, 000 conditional cash transfer scheme to the poorest and vulnerable households in the country to cushion the hardship posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Nora Ebuku

    May 10, 2020 at 9:30 pm

    Your caption reads “video”. You fulfilled my expectation because l never expected to see the video as usual

  2. Bestz01

    June 6, 2020 at 12:52 pm

    We are not benefiting anything from the government as citizens of the wealthy nation.

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Special Reports

#EndSARS: Nigerians Recount Horrible Experience With Thugs In Police Uniform

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#EndSARS: Nigerians Recount Horrible Experience With Thugs In Police Uniform
#EndSARS: Nigerians Recount Horrible Experience With Thugs In Police Uniform

#EndSars protesters

“I entered a commercial tricycle heading home. On our way, we met SARS officials. They told us to come down. We were three inside.

“They started asking me questions about where I worked and what I do to which I replied all. After much questioning, they collected my ATM and told me I have to bail myself. I asked on what grounds and as we were talking, the other of his men shot one of the guys in the tricycle.

“I was terrified and told him that I don’t have cash on me. He brought out a POS, inserted my card in it and told me to type N200,000. I had to type it because I was scared of being shot”, she tearfully recounts.”

If you think the above narration is from a Nollywood scene, you are wrong. A young lady, Sophia, who works as a food vendor in Delta state, was not only forced to witness a young man being unlawfully shot but also part away with her hard-earned money – a total of N200,000 in her bank account.

The ongoing protests against the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) which is gradually growing into a nationwide revolt is not independent of the burning desire of the majority of Nigerian youths to see a reformed Nigerian police force.

The most populous black nation in the world with more than half its population as youths is witnessing its strongest alliance against police brutality in over a decade.

Read Also: #EndSARS: Nigerian Minister Blames ASUU Strike For Civil Unrest

SARS, created in 1992 to handle crimes related to robbery, motor vehicle theft, kidnapping, cattle rustling, and crimes involving firearms have been involved in anti-citizen activities, with officers deviating from their original assignment by profiling young Nigerians, maiming, harassing, and shooting them even in the absence of concrete information to warrant their arrest.

Nigerian share their experiences

The anger and agitations for the total disbandment of the hated police unit cannot be said to be unreasonable.

During one of the several peaceful protests, a protester who took to the streets of Port Harcourt in a stereotyped appearance was later revealed to be DJ Kaka, who schooled in Ghana but lost his twin brother and car to SARS officers in Nigeria. His experience with the rogue police unit made him travel from Ghana to Port Harcourt to join the street protests.

“My name is End SARS boy, I don’t love them, I schooled in Ghana, but when I came back on January 25th, SARS had the guts to kill my brother and took his car. I don’t love SARS; I don’t love them.

“We need the MOPOL. We need the police. And we don’t need criminals like them. iPhone is not a crime. I’m from Ikwerre, all my body there is tattoo and I’m a DJ but no job. So, I’m just here to end SARS.

That’s why I came all the way from Ghana to end Port Harcourt SARS. I’m crazy but I’m gentle”, DJ Kaka reveals in a viral video.

Nina Nora’s experience with the rogue police unit was while travelling to her village in early 2020. The bus she boarded was framed for transporting Indian hemp.

“When I was going to the village early this year, FSARS stopped us at Okwu Uratta and told all of us to come down for ‘stop and search’. They didn’t see anything so they allowed us to go. Another group stopped us at Bishop’s Court and told us to come down for ‘stop and search’ again.

“One of them went straight to the gloves compartment and brought out wraps of weed. They started to threaten us with the NDLEA if we don’t comply. We eventually settled them with N30,000. They had initially asked for N5,000,000. Definitely, their ‘stop and search’ was to plant incriminating evidence in our bus”, she shares.

A quantity surveyor identified as Alexander Aghedo narrated his experience with the infamous police unit thus:

“When I was to lead a team of surveyors to Rivers State during the height of kidnapping menace along the East-West road, I visited the SARS post in Emoha LGA of the state to make arrangement for security escort.

“This was to enable me and my team carry out survey work and also collect soil samples for analysis. I paid the requested amount to their head and four SARS officers were released to provide the much-needed security for our survey work to go seamlessly. I was in for a surprise when while working at the site on the day, one of the SARS officers told me that he and his colleagues have concluded that I’m going to pay them an addition N100,000 right there and then.

“They said that what I paid in the office was for Oga. I told them I had already given their boss N200,000 and asked where he expected me to get an additional N100,000. The officer then cocked his AK47 rifle and shouted that if I couldn’t transfer them money, they would kill me and say it was cultists that attacked. Afraid for my life, I had to transfer my last N40,000 to them.”

A young woman who was raped by SARS officers in 2018 is championing the protests on the streets. Identified as Chiatuiro Precious Chidera, she says she does not want a repeat occurrence for her unborn male and female offspring.

“I was raped two years ago. They also extorted money from me. What was my crime: I fresh. I fresh na crime? I cannot give birth to a daughter in this country make them no go rape my daughter tomorrow. Make them no go shoot my son tomorrow. Na people pikin them they dead for Lagos state. End SARS. End police brutality”, she said while holding a placard.

Protests across the nation

The ongoing protests started on Thursday, October 8, 2020 after a planned protest by notable musician Naira Marley that was put on hold following a Twitter appeal from the Minister of Youth. Naira Marley then agreed to have a Live chat via Instagram with the IGP, Mohammed Adamu on Monday, October 5 2020. He, however, issued a one-week ultimatum to the government, after which a protest would begin to bring an end to the activities of the unit.

Read Also: #EndSWAT: Sanwo-Olu Condemns Attack On Protesters In Alausa

Displeased with Naira Marley’s lack of resolve, another artist Runtown who had also called for physical protests maintained that the protest would take place in Lagos on October 8 in spite of the government’s warnings and appeals. Runtown was soon backed by rapper Falz, comic skit maker Mr Macaroni, female singer Tiwa Savage, OAP Toke Makinwa, and reality TV star Tacha.

On October 8, the aforementioned celebrities took to the streets of Lagos alongside other young Nigerians who had received the Twitter call to meet at the agreed venue. They all marched to the Lagos State Governor’s House. Majority of the youths slept at the gate of the government house till Friday, October 9.

Other celebrities joined subsequently. The number of youths at the protest grounds increased, with Twitter as the main social media platform for communication. The #EndSARS hashtag alongside its offshoots such as #EndSWAT, #EndPoliceBrutality, and #SARSMUSTEND has attracted global attention with some global celebrities such as Trey Songz, Kanye West, and Lil Baby tweeting the hashtag and creating more awareness on the microblogging platform. Currently, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has acknowledged the movement with an emoji.

The protests then spread to other states of the country such as Rivers, Ogun, Osun, Oyo and the FCT, Abuja, following the disbandment of SARS by the IGP on Sunday, October 11. It was also on Sunday that the five demands were made to President Muhammadu Buhari. Currently, the protesters have not relented. This is because of the unimplemented pronouncements of disbandment and prosecution of abusive officers in the past.

The protests have also been disrupted on several occasions by alleged government security agents and hoodlums. The death of Jimoh Isiaq spurred more hatred for the SARS unit and more protests against police brutality. A prominent activist in Abuja, Aisha Yesufu, was also reportedly manhandled by the Nigerian police.

#EndSARS: Nigerians Recount Horrible Experience With Thugs In Police Uniform

There have also been donations made by private companies, small and medium-sized enterprises and notable celebrities. The protesters have so far spoken with one voice: there is no leader among them and they will not stop until all demands are met.

SARS To SWAT, Any difference between Akara and moi moi?

After the IGP’s announcement of the disbandment of SARS on October 11, a new unit was created to replace the now-defunct SARS. This unit is called SWAT (Special Weapon and Tactics Team). SWAT is to fill the gaps created owing to the dissolution of SARS.

In an official statement released by the Nigeria Police Force, no personnel of the defunct SARS will be selected to be part of the new Tactical Team. It also states that operatives of the new Tactical Team must be free of any pending disciplinary matter especially those touching on misuse of firearms and abuse of human rights.

Nigerian youths have, however, rejected the formation of a new police unit to replace the scrapped Special Anti-Robbery Squad, positing that it will not end the brutalization of citizens. Some also argued that the new name given to the unit will give the police unfettered rights to further harass and intimidate Nigerians as they refer to the new unit as an advanced version of SARS.

It remains to be seen what the protests will metamorphose into, and how the Buhari-led dictatorial government would handle the trivial issue.

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Fuel Price, Electricity Tariff Hike: ‘Everything Keeps Increasing But Minimum Wage Doesn’t’

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Protests in Oyo, Osun over fuel price, electricity tariff hike — Nigeria — The Guardian Nigeria News – Nigeria and World News

Protests in Oyo, Osun over fuel price, electricity tariff hike

“That is how they normally talk. They will say they are doing it in our interest, but it’s all lies. How much am I earning? Don’t I have a family to take care of? This is callous of them.

“While governments of other countries are trying to make life better for their people, here, they want to choke us with increase in this and that.

“Everything keeps increasing but the minimum wage doesn’t increase,” Mr Hammed, a 47-year-old carpenter told Information Nigeria while reacting to the increase in fuel price and electricity tariff.

As Nigerians went about their daily activities despite the restraints caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, hoping to surmount the challenges brought about by the unexpected tragedies witnessed in the year 2020, the subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Pipelines and Product Marketing Company (PNPPC), announced an increase in the ex-depot price of fuel from N138.62 to N151.56 per litre.

A few hours later, the price was adjusted to N147.67. The ex-depot price is the price at which the product is sold to marketers at the depots.

This announcement comes shortly after the increase in electricity tariff that welcomed Nigerians into the month of September. Although this has been described to be in the best interest of the populace, the thought of having to pay more, despite slashed salaries and unreliable power supply has become quite difficult to bear for many Nigerians.

The assurance of Oyebode Fadipe, general manager of corporate communications at Abuja Electricity Distribution Company, that “the Service Reflective Tariff (SRT) plan is a NERC mandated tariff structure whereby an upward increment in tariffs will result in substantially longer hours of power supply, good quality voltage profile, swifter response to faults clearing and provision of pre-paid meters” is not sufficient to assuage the thought of tariff-induced burden growing in the mind of  Mr Hammed who told Information Nigeria that the government is on a wanton mission to further impoverish his ilk.

Read Also: FG Never Promised To Keep Fuel Price Permanently Low, Says Petroleum Minister

Nigerians, known for doggedness and tenacity during tough periods, could not but worry over the state of economic affairs of the country. However, the increase in fuel price was bound to happen, considering that the government had announced in March that there would be subsidy removal on petrol in order to hand over the reins of importation to private companies such that market forces would begin to determine the retail price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).

The PNPPC’s adjustment of the ex-depot price twice within a few hours, inevitably caused varied retail prices at different filling stations across the country. Some filling stations in Lagos state sold at N161 per litre while others sold at N159 per litre. However, the uniform price of N151 soon took effect.

Gas retailer, Christopher Okafor, is not convinced by the official statement from the ruling party. He tells Information Nigeria that he is displeased with the government’s move but is optimistic that better days would return.

He said: “If I tell you that I’m happy with the increase in the price of petrol, I will be the biggest liar on earth. It displeases me to my heart. Why now during COVID, when there is increase in the prices of other commodities? It is very unfair to us, but as usual, we will pull through.”

A 45-year-old beauty salon owner who pleaded anonymity, told Information Nigeria that she is fed up with the electricity billing. She has just one hairdryer in her small shop but her electricity bills run into N40,000 per month.

“This is exhausting”, she begins.

“But what am I to do?” She laughs for a while, probably trying not to let the burden get the better part of her.

“This is my only source of livelihood. I have to support my husband. I can’t stay idle. Now there is a tariff increase, it’s crazy. What can the masses do? What am I selling? That they want to finish me with such bills.”

Bimbo Oyemade, 37, female, is concerned about those who have lost their jobs during this period and how they would be able to afford to purchase fuel at the new price.

“I lost my aunty during this COVID. As if that was not enough, I was also among those laid off from work as a result of the pandemic. Is it now that I’m supposed to be paying so much for fuel and electricity that I am not even enjoying?

“So, other people in my shoes would also have to face this kind of hardship. I can only imagine how parents who have school fees to pay would be coping during this period. I am still trying to survive from having to purchase food items at a costlier price. I am fed up. And what’s worse is that we can’t do anything about it. We are meant to believe it’s in our own interest. Pathetic!”

Read Also: Electricity Tariff Increase: What Consumers Are Saying In Lagos

41-year-old Pastor Kenneth tells Information Nigeria that he concurs with the tweet posted by President Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesperson, Garba Shehu. In response to the PDP’s statement that the fuel price and electricity tariff increase would be unbearable for Nigerians, Shehu had tweeted thus: “Don’t allow the PDP to deceive you. Amidst acute shortages, they sold petrol at N600 per litre on Easter Sunday in 2013 (See Punch published on that day).”

“We will soon realize that this is for the best. The PDP that are now acting as saints did not do any better. In fact, they wrecked what the APC are now trying to amend. How do we expect the government to keep paying subsidy at the expense of other state-owned corporations? Think about it. That is why we will have to understand the move is a smart one, for the ultimate good of everyone”, he says.

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Pandemic Brings Huge Losses To Nigeria’s Cinema Industry

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2020 was meant to be the year of cinema blockbusters – from action thrillers to sci-fi. There was a forecast of huge turnovers from several box office hits. But for the intrusion of COVID-19, about five box office hits would have been witnessed by the end of the second quarter of this year.

Before COVID-19, 2019 saw the growth of Nigerian cinemas. The movie ‘Living in Bondage: Breaking free’ accrued a total of N158,435,642 million thereby making it the eleventh overall highest-grossing movie and the highest-grossing Nollywood movie of the year.

With such a feat achieved in 2019, there were increased hopes that 2020 would be more rewarding. Nollywood filmmaker, AY Makun, said in an interview that the third part of his franchise movie ‘Merry Men’ was meant to premiere and show in the cinemas in 2020, but has now been moved to 2021.

Since the government mandated a lockdown, cinema houses in Nigeria have remained shut. Speaking with VIVA Cinemas in Lagos state via a telephone call, Information Nigeria confirms that cinema houses were exempted from the re-opening of leisure and relaxation centers.

“Of course, all cinemas (including VIVA Cinemas) have been shut. What did you expect? That we would open during a pandemic? – when we haven’t been authorized to do so?”

Unwilling to disclose his identity to this reporter, he continues: “We have been shut. But this was never our major source of income. I am currently on a different work assignment. We are fine. Thank you for your time.”

According to statistics released by Cinema Exhibitors Association of Nigeria, during the week in which the first case of COVID-19 in Nigeria was confirmed, there was a reduction in attendance at the cinemas – from 73,209 to 68,922 admissions. Consequently, the general revenue generated dropped to N71 million from N81.5 million.

Shortly before the mandatory closing of all cinema houses, the few films that were shown at the cinemas made low profits as opposed to the usual estimated amounts. ‘The Legend of Inikpi’ managed to make N7.4 million in the first weekend after its premiere at Silverbird Cinemas in January. Things got lower as the profits reduced to N973,850 by February. Also, it has been revealed that there were just 801 viewers across the country in the same month.

‘Sugar Rush’, which was premiered in December 2019, also got affected by the Coronavirus. In the opening weekend, it achieved an enviable feat by grossing N40 million. However, in January, a reduction was witnessed as the movie managed to make N18 million throughout the month. By March, the profits had drastically dropped to N2.3 million.

Although the set term that 50% royalty goes to the film distributor in the first week is still in place, with a low turnout and turnover during the first few weeks of the Coronavirus confirmed cases in Nigeria, cinema exhibitors had a hard time making their usual profits. This inevitably affected the movie producers.

Read AlsoZero Social Distancing, No Face Masks… Lagos Computer Village Steadily Breaching COVID-19 Protocols

Information Nigeria sought to know the diversification of revenue by Nigerian cinema exhibitors. For this reason, Metro Cinema was contacted.

A lady’s voice answers at the other end. “This is Metro Cinema.

“We have totally complied with the lockdown directive. I am not even in Lagos. Have you been to our cinemas? It’s completely locked. We are surviving in the best way that we can. My other business is outside Lagos. I have more time to focus on it now that all cinemas are shut.”

But if cinema exhibitors may be relaxed in the knowledge of multiple streams of income, relevant stakeholders such as actors and filmmakers have been agitating for the reopening of cinema halls. Popular actress, Osas Ighodaro, took to Instagram to protest against the exemption of cinema houses from re-opening. Some of her colleagues also joined in the campaign.

A few of them include Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, Toyin Abraham, and Falz. With the hashtag #SaveCinemas, they expressed their grievances about the plight of cinema houses during the lockdown, especially considering that other activities were fast going back to normal.

In Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde’s words:

“I believe cinemas are easier to monitor and regulate. If other indoor places are open, why not the Cinemas? Temp checks, masks, distancing etc. We need to work together to ensure safer ways to keep the Arts going. Many livelihoods depend on this. It can and MUST be done as safely as possible. #savecinemas”.

Notable filmmaker Steve Gukas wrote a post on Instagram thus:

“The ability of the film industry to grow and sustain itself is directly linked to how much money films earn in various windows. The cinema is a very important revenue source. Keeping them shut has dire consequence for the industry. Given how many of our youth make a living from this industry, it is time to give this a second look.”

Speaking with KazMPIRE MOVIES, Information Nigeria learns that the cinemas will soon be re-opened but not at the same seating capacity before COVID-19. KazMPIRE MOVIES is ready for re-opening, but they also understand that their income will be drastically reduced.

“Our industry is like the aviation industry”, he begins. “We deal with large crowds and gatherings. We will not make money if our halls are scanty”.

“Our goal was to have full halls by the time of re-opening.

“But that will not be possible anymore. We have no choice but to comply with the government’s directive.

“We hope we can return to our full seating capacity soon enough. All the workers are at home. We have not made any income so far. And that has not been favorable for us at all.”

Read AlsoCOVID-19: Prices Of Bread, Egg May Soon Become Unbearable For Nigerians

A rather cheerful manager of MAGNIFICENT CINEMAS told Information Nigeria that they opened their lounge for visitors to come in, watch football matches and have some drinks, considering that lounges have been allowed to operate.

“That is our own way of diversifying our income.”

“We should reopen soon”, he continues. “You are still asking if it’s a huge blow? You are very funny. Of course, it’s a huge blow. The lounge is separate from the cinema halls. We’ve had meetings and have finally agreed that our lounge will continue to operate till our cinema halls can be reopened. The government will authorize our reopening soon.”

Tobi, a computer engineer, male, has missed going to the cinemas. However, football matches have made up for his cinema-going habit.

When asked about other video-streaming platforms, he responded: “Netflix? Frankly, not that I don’t enjoy the platform, it is a good one. But what do you do when you want a different environment and scenery? For dates, for relaxation.

“It’s just like saying why go to viewing centers to watch a football match when you can watch it at home? No one is saying you can’t watch it at home, but there’s a different feeling when you’re in the midst of other people enjoying the same thing. It’s a different feeling.”

For Peter, digital marketer, he likes the cinemas because he enjoys the movies better on the big screen. “I can use my phone. But you can’t compare watching on your phone to watching at the cinemas. That’s why I still think I prefer the cinemas. I hope they reopen soon.”

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