BY MUHAMMAD M. ALI, AUGUST 2, 2021
The need to keep safe following the outbreak of Corona Virus in Nigeria February last year led to unprecedented hikes in prices of several commodities, as well as increase in their demands.
But what was largely unusual was the rise in the demand for hand sanitizers, which, along with nose masks, gave the whole world the only sense of safety, in the face of an impending danger.
What spurred the rush for it, and attendant spike in its production, was a recommendation of health institutions, with full backing of governments worldwide, including executive orders, to use it regularly as one of the only known ways to avoid the spread of the virus.
In countries of Europe and America, from the first week of the pandemic, reports monitored by this reporter have shown that sale of hand sanitizers increased by 300%, and by 470% in the following week.
Reports soon emerged that the sanitizers and masks were hoarded by retailers, to maximize profit.
But as the world becomes awakened to the realities of the pandemic, the products were soon to be all over. They were there in the streets, pharmaceutical and even grocery stores.
Local efforts by institutions and organizations, also saw the commodities becoming available, through local production and donations by governments and nonprofit organizations.
According to a BBC report, retailers who earlier hoarded them, now impressed by market realities to get rid of them, also began giving them out for free, crashing the price.
A pharmacist in Maiduguri, whose plea to our reporter not to mention his name YERWA EXPRESS NEWS is respecting despite not giving reasons, said the pattern was also the same in the country.
Speaking recently with this reporter, the pharmacist said, just like in other places during the peak period of the pandemic, there was a similar mad rush to buy the sanitizers and masks by residents of the state.
For something that previously takes months to sell a piece, he said in 'a day we sell nothing less than 20 pieces. We have sold many packs.'
Babaji Bukar, another pharmacy store owner at Gamboru Market in Jere part of Borno's metropolis, following the high demand during the period, said he had earned considerably from the sale of sanitizers, something he was not used to before.
He also said the state lockdown order, which allows for movement and opening of markets for households to restock twice a week, helped him to earn more.
'Patronage during the two the breaks is as much as the whole week, if not more than within the whole week. Customers come like never before. Sometimes I had to lock my shop in fear of not to exhaust my goods while supply are blocked.
'So I think I will rather say my business received boost during the pandemic. Within those days that I would open my shop I was getting above my usual profit. Almost 20% more. And the extra profit mostly come from the sale of hand sanitizers,' Bukar stated.
He however stated that this year, the sales have declined drastically, with many packs now waiting in his shop, without buyers.
'Nowadays it is hard to sell even one in three days. Now it is left us to know how to get rid-off it to recover some loses before it expires,' Bukar explained, while lamenting that the unsold are just holding on to his capital.
'If not for the pandemic, very few people come for hand sanitizers. That is why I am afraid, about eleven packs I have now may take me much time to sell. And another problem is: I must drop prices, beyond the rate I bought, to sale them,' he lamented.
Customers not buying anymore
Many residents of Maiduguri interviewed said they bought hand sanitizers during the lockdown but not anymore. Asked why, they say Covid19 is already 'over'.
'What is hand sanitizer again when Covid19 is over? The last time I bought it was over three month ago,' Abdulkarim Abdulkarim, residents of Maiduguri told this reporter.
'I bought it once and never again. And I don't think ever to buy it because of Covid19 again,' Hauwa Musa, also told YERWA EXPRESS NEWS along Dandal Police Station in Maiduguri.
'Everything about our Covid19 is fake. Malaria is our Covid19 here,' she added.
Dr. Yunus Umara, a physician and resident of Maiduguri, speaking on why people no longer use masks and sanitizers, attributed it to the understanding of people about their real use.
'It is high time people should understand using hand sanitizer, social distancing and face masks are all preventive measures. They are not curative, and one lose nothing by doing so,' Umara said.
He drew attention to recent resurfacing of the Delta variant of the virus across the country, noting that some states have been given signals already to restrict social gathering.
'So I think the earlier people understand Covid19 is still with us the better. It is important we abide by the preventive measures to further keep ourselves safe,' he added.
According to Nigerian Center for Disease Control, NCDC, as of July 19, the country has over 170,000 number of confirmed cases, over 165,000 recoveries and 2,128 deaths, with 912 average number of new cases in seven days.
Assessment by Nigerian National Bureau of Statistics, also found that about 96% of small enterprises across the country were negatively hit by the pandemic.
With vaccines emerging, are we now then, seeing the fall in the market of sanitizers and masks, or...something our lives was once dependent on?
This article is part of COVID-19 Response: Together for Reliable Information project implemented by PAGED Initiative supported by the EU and FreePress Unlimited.
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19 October 2021