Nigerian actress, Funke Akindele, is popular for her lead role in Jenifa’s Diary. However, for breaking social distancing rules, she is now the butt of the joke. Funke Akindele held a birthday party for her husband on 4th April. Abdulrasheed Bello—the better half to the actress—did an Instagram live video. That attracted the wrath of her fans who called her out on social media.
Happy birthday my darling husband❤️❤️❤️ The Lord will Grant you longer life and good health. Thank you for being a sweetheart! Our home will always be peaceful and the Lord will continue to bless us. Enjoy your day… https://t.co/q8cFEDmlNp
— Funke Akindele Bello (@funkeakindele) April 4, 2020
Ironically, she is part of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control “Stay Home” campaign sensitizing her fellow citizens on the dangers of Coronavirus. “Remember, your health is in your hands,” she reiterated. Megachurches have had to adjust to empty auditoriums. Businesses are taking a major hit. Everyone is feeling the impact of the lockdown.
Here’s NCDC Health Advisory Video by Funke Akindele pic.twitter.com/w8Bf7wYpPj
— DANNY 👑 (@Danny_Walterr) April 5, 2020
Also, the actress was in a Dettol advert where she advised people to practice proper hygiene and social distancing. Funke is among the many Nigerian celebrities supporting their fellow citizens in fighting the pandemic. Perhaps, a lot of people are finding it difficult to adjust to this new way of life. Thus people tend to act contrary to what they say. In Kenya, a deputy governor is facing a jail term for violating quarantine rules.
Too late to apologize?
Funke’s action was shocking to many of her fans—particularly those who hold her in high esteem. At first, Funke was defiant to the social media criticisms. However, she later tendered an apology. In the video apology, she acknowledged her flaws but went further to explain why there was so many people at the party. She said,
“I am sorry if I misled you with the video, I appreciate your concerns and I promise to practice what we preach…,”
Notwithstanding her explanations, some Nigerians were not pacified. There were different views on the matter with some saying she was only being human. However, the majority of comments were against her actions. A couple of celebrities that tried coming to her defense also met severe backlash.
I hear you all and I acknowledge all your honest feedback.
I also thank you for your concerns, well wishes and calls.
I am sorry and hope this video offers some explanation.
— Funke Akindele Bello (@funkeakindele) April 5, 2020
Consequently, authorities arrested Funke and her husband and presented them in court. They were charged for violating the Lagos State Infectious Disease 2020 regulation under the Public Health Law. Furthermore, the court fined them $260 with 14 days community service. Also, all the attendees of the party will go into 14-day compulsory quarantine. Authorities are calling on popular musician Naira Marley, also an attendee, to present himself to the court.
Three States in Nigeria are currently on a 14-day lockdown. Consequently, strict measures are in place to ensure compliance. As the country continues to deal with shortage in testing kits, the number of cases and deaths are rising. At the time of this publication, there were 254 cases of infection and 6 deaths. Authorities are warning the citizens that the lockdown could go beyond the initial 2 weeks.
Monitoring the situation in Nigeria
President Muhammadu Buhari commissioned a task force to evaluate and continuously give recommendations on what should be done to help flatten the infection curve. Bose Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation recently gave an update. Reacting to speculations on the possible extension of the lockdown, he said,
“He (Buhari) and he alone will make the decision as to when the lockdown would either be extended or it will stop at the expiration of 14 days.”
Interestingly, Nigeria is investing heavily in the fight against Coronavirus. It is setting up a $1.39 billion fund to mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic. However, it appears the country may need to do more to protect her over 190 million citizens. In the third quarter of 2018, the West African country was hit with an all-time high unemployment rate of 23.10 percent.
China, the origin of the virus has been able to contain it. Consequently, the government has lifted the 11 weeks lockdown on Wuhan which was once the epicenter of the spread. Thus, if Africans follow recommendations by the government and WHO the continent can defeat the virus. The new rules may not be easy considering Africa’s communal way of life but it’s also not also impossible.