Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
Tell well, sell well, is a popular advertising slogan. In Benin City, the Edo State capital, the most common song you hear on the streets now, is “cover your nose, cover your nose” and this song is sung by the young and old children who have taken to the streets to market their new products occasioned by the dreaded novel coronavirus.
The product is the face mask. It comes in different colours, shapes and sizes. This has taken over from the hand sanitizers, which recorded good sales in the past few weeks shortly after Nigeria recorded its first index case of the virus.
In Edo State, the hand sanitizer is gradually fizzling out, paving way for face masks.
The advice by the state government to the people of the state to always wear face masks has encourged and promoted the new masks business in the state.
So, it is hard for you to see people without wearing their face masks now.
Drivers, passengers and others who trek on the streets of Benin are all with theirs.
Perhaps, this is a positive side to COVID-19! While other people are groaning under the economic hardship brought by the virus, it is joy for the tailors, who sew the face masks and those who buy them in bulk to sell to members of the public, as they smile to the bank on a daily basis.
To fashion designers, there is no more wastage, as the pieces of cloth from their customers have turned out to be the ones performing the magic in this critical time.
For Anastasia Nkiruka, who has stationed herself close to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) office in Aduwawa, sitting down at home doing nothing will make matters worse.
So, making the best use of her handwork has come in handy.
“I am here selling face masks at Oregbeni Market. I started the business on the last market day, precisely last week.
“I am a fashion designer. I decided to take to this business of face masks when the state government asked every shop owner to shut down
“So, while sitting at home doing nothing, I decided to bring all the pieces of clothes in my store out and sewed them into face masks.
“Each face mask is sold for N100 and if one prices it for N50, I will still sell it.
“The last time I sold, I made N3,000 and last week we were able to make 200 pieces of face masks and if you multiply it by either N100 or N50, you will know what that is.
“Though I made more money in my store before now, at least I used to make N15,000 in a day, but now it is N6,000 or N3,000, depending on how many pieces I am able to sell in a day.
“At least, the money I am making now is better than sitting at home doing nothing”, she said.
Nkiruka further advised Nigerians to always learn handiwork, noting that it could be very helpful when one least expected.
“I am advising others at home and students to go and learn hairdressing, tailoring so that, in case of situation like this, they will be able to cope”, she said.
Another face mask seller, Mrs. Esther Uwadiale, said though coronavirus has made the face masks pupolar, it can be worn while frying fish and other condiments in the kitchen at home.
“You can wear the face mask at home if you want to flit your house, fry things in your kitchen, you can also wear it to avoid cattarrh, if you want to grind pepper, you can wear it so that it will not cause you cattarrh and cough.
“It should not only be worn because of the coronavirus,” she said.
Uwadiale said she has been able to fend for her family from the income realized from the sale of the masks.
“I can make N5,000 and at times N6,000 in a day. I will not say that the outbreak of the virus has done us well, there is no money.
“Those who have asked me to sew their burial clothes and marriage clothes, they cannot collect them and there is no money. Moreso because the government has put a stop to all social gatherings in the state.
“So, all those clothes, they left them with me. But I thank God for the face masks that I am selling. This is what I use to get my daily income.
“We are benefiting from this coronavirus and, if not for these masks, I would have been at home and I would not be able to have some money to buy some things. So, I thank God for this idea and, before now, I didn’t know that Nigerians could produce face masks,” she said.