ARMED only with a cutlass, 52-year-old Yisa Burawa, a security guard at Unique International School located in the Bwari area of Abuja, once chased away an intruder who tried to gain access to the school premises through the back door. Even when the school is not in session, Burawa’s job requires keeping the school properties safe, and he has been doing this for the past 13 years.
Having lived in the area for many decades, Burawa’s competence as a security guard is in his knowledge of the environment and a fraternity with a network of guards, who share intelligence in cases of danger.
But when Nigeria recorded its first case of COVID-19 late February, Burawa who has three wives and 18 children found he couldn’t machete his way out of the hardship the pandemic presented and neither did his government provide much needed help.
The outbreak of the novel coronavirus ushered a new, descriptively cruel reality for many globally.
In Nigeria, a developing country which has 40 percent of its estimated 200 million population living below the poverty line, according to a 2019 Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS) report, the situation was much more dire.
In March, lockdown orders imposed by the Federal Government in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus, prompted the shutting down of schools across the country.
With physical class sessions halted, teachers had to rethink methods to educate their students from home.
But as classroom education moved into homes, custodians of the school buildings known as security guards remained on the line of duty.
This group provides protection for both infrastructure and persons, and are the first line of defense incase of an attack, though they are classified as the lower echelon in any organizational structure, and the least income-earners.
In April, the Federal Government announced plans to distribute palliatives to targeted low-income earners across the country, to alleviate the negative effect of the pandemic on the economy.
We only heard about the palliatives, we never received anything
On April 8, the Federal Government announced that 77,000 metric tons of food will be distributed to vulnerable households affected by the lockdown in Lagos, Ogun, and Abuja. President Muhammadu Buhari also stated that at least 3.6 million households will benefit from the direct distribution of food and cash during the lockdown period but while stimulus packages were rolled out, many who needed it never received it. In fact, The ICIR found that most security guards who still had to work during the lockdown to guard school buildings were left out.
For Gumsi Sanni, a security guard at Stella Maris College located in the Life camp area of Abuja, news about palliatives rocked the airwaves and he developed hope that himself and his family would benefit from it. Living with his wife, five children and three of his siblings, Sanni already had it rough, only to hit rock bottom when the government imposed lockdown measures in the wake of the pandemic.
“My wife had to stop her business because of the COVID-19 and it was really difficult for us. All we had was my salary and it wasn’t enough but we had no choice,” he said.
Sanni like many of his colleagues never got palliatives promised by the government. In fact, being a security guard and having to report to work during the lockdown worsened his situation. As a result of the movement restriction, getting transportation to his work place was most times impossible and he would spend twice the usual to report to his duty.
Read more on: https://www.icirnigeria.org/how-security-guards-of-abuja-schools-coped-during-covid-19-pandemic/