COVID-19: Musings about Lagos, Africa’s Largest City
Following the declaration of the lockdown by the government, which was required to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Lagos and Nigeria, the city finally slept. A situation that a lot of the resident of the state had never experienced before, i.e. this meant no commerce, no commuting, no parties, no gatherings, and the list goes on. The COVID-19 induced lockdown, according to the May Journal of the Sydney University’s Brain and Mind Center, has caused an increase in the number of suicides and its death is said to be higher than the losses from the virus itself.
In Nigeria, a massive number of job loss is recorded daily. This is a significant trigger for emotional instability which can lead to suicides. With a 2017 study by UK-based company Zipjet revealing that Lagos the world’s most stressful city to live in on the parameters of finance, transport, percentage of green spaces and citizens’ wellbeing, state size and population (the most populated city in Africa), we can only predict increased levels of anxiety. The fast-paced spirit of Lagos, combined with the lack of a sound transportation system, takes its toll on the workforce, and ultimately affects productivity. Before the lockdown, it was not a strange thing for one to be stuck in traffic for over 4 hours for a journey that should not last more than 35 minutes.
However, despite the realities of Lagos state, some people will not hesitate to tell you they cannot live anywhere else. The pace of life is like adrenaline in the system of this group of people. For instance, despite the question asked by media executive Agnes Marquis in a report titled “Here’s why you should think twice before taking a job in Lagos.”,
“How productive can you be when you stay in traffic for over six hours daily, conjoined with the things you go through to have a normal life in this city?”
Some Lagos-life devotees would not give the life in Lagos up for anything. To them, activity is progress. It is these set of people that have been feeling stripped or caged by the no movement measures. While some people may feel trapped because of the ‘here, there and everywhere’ lifestyle they are accustomed to in Lagos, some other sets of people are taking this time to reflect and — reinvent their lives. This would be a good focus, i.e. People making that move from fear (of the unknown future from the economic realities) in the prevailing situation to a place of relative concentration and acceptability.
People must realise that they might not be able to change the course of events but can change the way they choose to respond to this event. When we exercise our minds to reflect on the direction of our lives, critically analyse our options, value system, etc. the decisions and choices we make will shape what the world would see of us going forward. Re-evaluating our worldview, ideology, personal values, and lifestyle in the light of the newness of the Covid-19 situation is not only a step in the right direction but a meaningful exercise with immeasurable benefits for us and the society.
The hustle, and bustle, maybe minimal right now in terms of movement. Still, the best advice to act on would be to make the best use of your time focusing inwards on who you are and what you are made of and begin to gather strength where needed or trim off excesses. This may just be the season the potential and progress-ability of a lot of people will be birthed. Reawakened like the spirit of the Phoenix or simply realigned. Like the cocoon, from which caterpillars emerge as beautiful butterflies, this period should be our Chrysalis so that the entity that comes out of the lockdown is a better, improved, and better-equipped version of the person that went in.
So, the question that everyone needs to answer is ‘Am I coming out of the post-Covid-19 lockdown transfixed or transformed?’ And major leadership questions would be ‘Are there tools and techniques to help shape who our people become? Are there culture integration techniques to support the people-evolution and position employees for high productivity, quick adaptability, and optimal performance post-COVID?
While employees have a responsibility to take ownership of their response to this new normal, business leaders will be needed to guide and shape the process for their people transformation. Organisations that focus on strategy, implement value-based people transformation and utilise technology centred solutions for businesses will come out tops. The pandemic has turned Lagos to a ruthless but careful city with people trying to avoid unnecessary risks. Parties no longer hold due to the need for social distancing, and workers are becoming excessively prudent because they are not sure when the next payday will be if at all it comes. Noise pollution seems to have taken a nosedive as movement has been reduced to the barest minimum. As the city is awaking from sleep, social distancing is beginning to be a mirage as population tumps landmass.
This is Lagos. The city where dreams are made possible, Lagos. The city we thought never sleeps.