From Okwe Obi and Charity Nwakaudu, Abuja
The last Christmas was like never before, no thanks to COVID-19 pandemic. Although some residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, threw caution to the winds and had a swell of time, others chose to self-isolate at home.
Events centres like Jabi Lake, Millennium Park and Unity Fountain, were closed even though some persons trespassed to have fun. Gardens and parks managers equally frowned at the closure of parks by the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) because of the second wave of COVID-19.
They said government should have allowed those places opened and arrest those not observing social distancing or not wearing facemasks.
Most homes, public places were decorated with flowery lights. Roads were free of traffic because hordes of residents travelled outside Abuja. Those who stayed back rent the air and polluted the environment with bangers.
The opening of the land borders made no difference regarding prices of foodstuffs as many residents could not afford rice, chicken, onion and tomatoes. For instance, a 50kg bag of local rice went as high as N28,000 and above while a “mudu” a litre equivalent of stone-free rice was sold for N1000. A chicken, which ordinarily was sold at N2,500 rose to N7,000.
Ann Adamu, a mother of three and resident at Kubwa, said COVID-19 worsened the situation: “We thank God that we are opportune to see this year’s Christmas, but it was not what it used to be. I developed headache in the market when I was trying to minimise what I had on me to get the family food for the celebration.
“We are all used to the price of rice but the most alarming one was the price of onion, meat, especially chicken. Chickens that were normally sold for N2000, were sold from N5000 and above. It was not easy at all and because of that, I was not able to share food with neighbours. It was stressful and embarrassing but we bless God for gift of life.”
Susan Uche, a resident of Mpape, said: “This 2020 is a year to remember. It started with COVID-19 pandemic, we entered #EndSARS and they said COVID-19 cases is increasing when we have not recovered from the last one.
“I am tempted to rate the last Christmas as the worst in my house. We had nothing like merrymaking, nothing like special cooking because there was no money. My husband has not been paid for a very long time now. We are just managing with the little proceeds I make from my small business. Using the little I have for the festival will be foolishness because school will soon resume and the kids will go back to school.”
A banker who lives in Lugbe and who preferred to be anonymous said: “The Christmas season was nothing to write home about. Some of us who were busy because the nature of our jobs used the public holidays to catch fun, but this one nothing to show. Every happening place is shut down because of their COVID-19. It has been long I enjoyed laud music and dancing with friends. I thought this holiday season would give me an opportunity but to no avail. I stayed in-door all through.”
A one-stand commercial sex worker from Utako, Lady P, said: “Festive periods used to be one of the most productive times in this business, this year’s own is different. I know there is hardship in the country but it does not really affect our job most times.
“But this time, our job has really been affected. Most men are afraid of the recent increasing cases of COVID-19. The business has to do with body contact nobody wants to die. Even though we are crying for customers, we are also careful.”