By Olalekan Osiade
Since President Buhari declared the nationwide curfew last night, I have been thinking of how some workers in Lagos and parts of Ogun will cope and adjust their work schedules, when the curfew commences on Monday, May 4.
This is not the first time Buhari would be imposing curfew on the nation, it has unfortunately become his lot.
He did same as a military General when the soldier in him undemocratically hijacked power from the late Alhaji Shehu Shagari on December 31, 1983.
It is however not Buhari’s making, it is just that providence has always placed such lot on him. And when fate comes calling, who are we, as mere mortals, to blame God?
Curfews have never been our friends, rather they are enemies of the masses. But this particular curfew that will come into force in a week, is not the one that is usually heralded by martial music, it is a good one that is meant to combat an unseen enemy.
In local parlance, they say “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”, so, unlike the past curfews that were reluctantly obeyed, for fears of being hit with the butt of an assault rifle by some khaki boys, we welcome this friendly curfew and embrace it with open arms.
However, this friendly curfew, no matter how inclined it is to help our cause, it is set to take a toll on us, individually and collectively.
No matter how we may want it as our helper, we are bound to sacrifice little of our freedom and comfort to this friendly enemy.
From Monday May 4, Islamic faithful won’t be able to assembly in Mosques for night prayers, which is one of the hallmarks of Ramaddan.
Until further notice, my friends on the other side of life, who enjoy nightouts at weekends, won’t be able to go clubbing.
Those that would be mostly affected are the workers, traders, commuters and motorists, who ply major roads that are always busy.
It is not in doubt that the rush that will herald the freedom from covid-19 ‘house arrest’ will make many people fall prey to the rules of the curfew that will take over from the lockdown.
For many of those living and working in Lagos and Ogun, especially those plying the Third Mainland Bridge and the Berger-Mowe-Ibafo axis of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, they had better be prepared like a boy scout.
Many of them won’t be able to beat the 8pm deadline, no matter how they try. I am relating this with my experience while I was still with Jimoh Ibrahim’s Daily Newswatch (later Newswatch Times), when I and many of my colleagues used to ply those routes to and fro.
With the chaotic traffic on some Lagos roads, many workers and traders, especially those on the Island, just can’t escape being on the road after the 8pm curfewtime, it is nearly impossible.
Even if one closes early and leave office earlier than the usual time, the mad rush that will attend the ‘lockdown freedom’ as from Tuesday May 5 will give many people sleepless nights and the traffic officials in Lagos and environs will have hell of work to do.
I pity the traffic police, LASTMA, TRACE and FRSC officials that would be saddled with responsibilities of managing traffic on those roads as well as some would-be traffic offenders. It’s going to be tug-of-war.
But I trust LASTMA authorities to come up with some ingenuity. I can easily single LASTMA out of the lot. I am sure they must be putting on their strategic thinking by now.
For those who wouldn’t want to be caught and made scapegoats, it is advisable that you should be prepared to sleepover at work, especially if you don’t want some corrupt policemen to extort you.
It is going to be a huge sacrifice on the part of many workers, especially employees of private companies, who do not have the luxury of flexible work schedules like civil servants.
As for the big employers, start thinking of how to make your offices not only conducive for the job but also comfortable as shelter for your employees, in case they need to pass the night.
Workers should also make arrangements with nearby hotels and colleagues living close by, it’s going to be a new experience.
Some heartless employers will definitely exploit the situation to maximize profits with cheap labour, it is left to the state governments to look into the situation and bring about practicable solutions within the curfew framework to help the workers.
For the older generations that will be quick to brag about witnessing curfews in the past, thinking it’s no big deal, don’t be deceived, this is not your Lagos of 1970s and 80s when there were few cars on the road.
You will be shocked that the dusk to dawn curfew you witnessed in the 70s and 80s, which didn’t force you to be held back at work, will now turn you to refugees in your various offices. It is better to be prepared.
* Osiade, an Assistant Editor with New Telegraph Newspaper wrote in from Lagos.