COVID-19 Response

The COVID-19 Pandemic affects us all. We must help our communities survive through it all.


As a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Nlele Institute (TNI) disbursed N620, 000.00 (Six Hundred and Twenty Thousand Naira) to 124 artists in Nigeria through the Nlele Institute Corona Virus Artists Emergency Support.  This initiative was introduced to ameliorate the financial situation of artists living in Nigeria.  The initiative was executed independently with the support of friends and mentees (students) of TNI.

TNI understands how difficult this period could be for all of us, and for some, it is most difficult.  We are pleased that (no matter how little), the funds disbursed through the initiative helped the recipients pull through this period and especially during the month-long lockdown.

Each recipient received a sum of N5, 000.00 (Five Thousand Naira) after proper identification and verification of their status as artists and in need.

TNI heartily appreciates Ugoma Adegoke (Founding Director and Chief Curator of Bloom Art Lagos) for her generous contribution to this “August” project.  We also thank Ndidi Health Limited for their support. We remain grateful to all our mentees (students), team (staff) and friends of the Nlele Institute Lagos.

Thank you

Obasola Bamigbola
Project Coordinator
Nlele Institute Corona Virus Artists Emergency Support



The Nlele Institute Lagos presents “When The Doors Are Shut”.  This project is a response to the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on art creation/production.  We are interested to know how photographers in Nigeria braced up to the challenges of the current global health crisis and how quickly they responded to this situation, that continues to impact their lives and careers as a result of the shutdown and the “fear factor”  with regards to the spread of the virus.

The idea is to adopt quick responses by thinking critically, reflecting on the situation and producing works in record time.  Hence, a prompt (instant) result is expected and will be presented in like manner on Instagram.  This Instagram presentation is, thus, a reflection on the current global health crisis – the Corona Virus pandemic.   At the moment, the world’s population is shutdown, businesses closed and above all, art programs and activities are halted.  Artists all over the world are confined to the four-walls of their homes.

The question, how does this sudden catastrophe impact on our creativity and artistic production?  Our mentees (students) will investigate the covid-19 phenomenon through this (Instagram) exposition.  The idea will be to unlock criticality and reflexivity within a confined space of creation.  We also want to explore a quick and easy-to-go approach to production.

TNI hopes to reach a wide range of audience as we all get ready to return to normalcy.


  • Adedolapo George
  • Ayanfeoluwa Olarinde
  • Ebunoluwa Akinbo
  • Obasola Bamigbola
  • Kayode Oluwa
  • Victor Joseph
  • Adeyinka Yusuf
  • Anthony Monday
  • Gaspard L. Koutchika
  • Philips Akwari
  • Ralph Eluehike
  • Israel Aigberadion
  • Omoregie Osakpolor
  • Ayomitunde Adeleke
  • Adedeji Olalekan

Facilitated by;

Uche Okpa-Iroha
The Nlele Institute Lagos
Ralph Eluehike (Mentee, The Nlele Insitute Lagos)

“Struggle for Survival“

Nigeria got her first index case of the rampaging Corona virus disease in Lagos on the 27th of February, 2020. As the nations of the world are on the brink in search of means to curtail the spread of this deadly and rampageous virus, various unpalatable restrictions and measures are being initiated and dished out. A ‘lockdown’ was absolute and globally shouldered by affected Nations. Lagos with an estimated population of 14million people was put on lock down among other states of the federation. Shops, offices, schools, financial institutions etc are inoperative. Due to inappropriate and inadequate plans by the government to ameliorate the suffering of the people, the set out rules are put to rest by the survival craving masses. People in their resilience are seen on the street without the prior safety measures. Children move freely on the streets in their unflinching search of learning grounds. The struggle for survival is indeed real as a good number of the people elude the lock down measure in search of daily bread.
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Anthony Monday (Mentee, The Nlele Insitute Lagos)

“Sleeping Economy“

Sleeping Economy is a response/reflection on the Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) impact on Nigeria’s economy. The world is facing a phenominal pandemic right now, which has led to global “self-isolation“ and total lockdown of countries, businesses, services etc. Many economies across the world will go into recession. Already, the Nigerian state is economical depressed and this is impacting negatively on big and small businnesses. Jobs are being lost at the moment! Eko, popularly known as Lagos, is one of the largest mega cities in Africa and the fastest growing city in the world. It is the economic and financial heart of Nigeria with more than 21 million inhabitants. By some estimate, the population could be doubled in near feature to about 50 million people. This comes with mixed fortunes depending on how we plan, manage and mitigate the infrastructural deficit to help boost the economy. Olakunle Tejuoso presents the city of Lagos in his book as “A city at work” which questioned the collapse of infrastructure, the corruption of the political class, etc. More also, Lagos is a city that never goes to sleep. with different activities and events from dawn to dusk, massive influx of people from neighboring states in search of a greener pastures, night markets, sounds of different mechanical engines, to night life in the city, bus conductors yelling at different bus stops, etc. keeps the city at wake – yet the economy Nigeria slumbers away into depressed state.
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Ayanfeoluwa Olarinde (Mentee, The Nlele Insitute Lagos)


Inevitable as we become mentally incapable of handling our existence, in a place for a period longer than necessary. As creative isolation is routinely observed, but there’s an intrinsic wanting to be outside and attuned to external artistic influences. The involvement of my alter ego (a part of me determined) to prompt an impulsive escape, incites persistent temptation through conceived memories of a sociable past. Hence instigating the end of a solitary present while exaggerating the level of inspiration obtainable should I assent.
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Victor Joseph (Mentee, The Nlele Insitute Lagos)

“The Faith in Covid -19“

Just like the scriptural reading, I am always glad when it is time to go to the “House of God“ with other people and worship the Most High. Sundays, Tuesdays, special services, communion, prayer meetings or even our church’s football team were all part of it. Like a wave, COVID-19 came and distorted all of these… the halls of the church are quieter; the paino – soundless; the seats – empty, Pulpit with no priest. No more services! We have to stay at home to “keep safe“. No more beautiful choir renditions, bible readings or countless hugs and pleasantries at the end of service. Life is not the same again! Everything has changed. Yes, we meet “online from time to time“ but IT IS NOT THE SAME! I miss the old…I miss everything… But here I am, hopeful for the future and ready to accept the new!
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Kayode Oluwa (Mentee, The Nlele Insitute Lagos)

“Economy on Hold“

Nigerian government on the 30th of March 2020 imposed a lockdown in some parts of the country as a result of SARS-CoV-2(a virus that causes COVID-19). Lagos, the commercial hub of the country is amongst states affected as she was first to record the case of the virus and also the front runner of cases recorded so far. Restrictions on movement have not only reduced the consumption of nonessential commodities in general, but have increased the demand in the consumption of essential commodities which in return depend on the nonessential commodity to stay afloat. “I don lock shop, no market,“ says Madam Joy, a food seller at Ladipo Automobile Market in Mushin, who’s business depends on Auto part sellers and buyers. “As government don talk say make people stay for house my customers no dey come shop again, how I wan sell ?“. While some Lagoscians obey lockdown orders and observe social distancing, without palliative measures from the government, some still find a way out to make ends meet. Jamiu, a motorcycle rider, works between 5pm and 8pm to meet daily needs of his family “I have 3 kids, my younger brother plus my wife they all live with me, if I no work my brother how do I feed them ? Na why I dey work in the evening way police no go dey road to arrest and if them come I go settle them go about my work“. This body of work tends to question the effect of the global pandemic and Nigerian government’s approach towards it. How will an average citizen who lives on a daily routine job will cope, a small scale business that depends on a daily transaction will survive. Will they live through this period without compromise, will businesses closed down still reopen after the pandemic is over?
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Adedolapo George (Mentee, The Nlele Insitute Lagos)

“Work From Home“

Following the announcement of a Covid-19 case in Nigeria, The Lagos State government on the 23rd of March asked its workforce to begin to work from home. Many private businesses followed suit as a partial lockdown was imposed on the state. But, were we prepared to work from home? The notion of ‘working from home’ varies for each and every individual especially with no option to get up and go out. What harmony comes from the motions of working from home as we navigate through our space, equipment, work, uncertainties of times and relaxation. Do we even achieve harmony? What does the future hold for use of space and technology? How do we appropriate time and manage it? There are many thoughts to ponder as we work from home…
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Ayomitunde Adeleke (Mentee, The Nlele Insitute Lagos)

“Education Changes, Good or Bad?“

The United Nations (UN) estimates that 1.25 billion students globally are currently at home due to the lockdown as a means to curb the COVID-19 pandemic. As some countries have witnessed, from previous health emergencies, most recently the Ebola outbreak. The impact of the lockdown on education is likely to be most devastating in countries with already low learning outcomes, and a high rate of school dropouts. The closure of schools tends to have a negative impact on the most vulnerable students, the effect of this is on a student’s mental health, and anxiety may be higher than average. The essential social contact with peers when it comes to learning is reduced due to the isolation, which can be harmful to the future psychological development of the student. Starting over, a post Covid-19 scenario may cause a dent in the quality of Education in a country like Nigeria that has a high rate of dropouts and low learning outcome. There will be disruptions in internal assessments and depletion of potentials. This can have a long consequence on the students especially in Nigeria and Africa at large where there are low welfare policies put in place to serve as palliatives to help ease the burden and the worries of what to eat. In general, surviving during this harsh period, for students in universities as in other countries of the world has turned to virtual/online classes and traditional exams is being replaced with online Assessment tools.
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Omoregie Osakpolor (Mentee, The Nlele Insitute Lagos)


Three weeks into the 28 days stay-at-home order in Nigeria’s most populous city, Lagos, the capital city and Ogun State, a group of armed robbers and thugs unleashed mayhem on the residents of Lagos and its suburbs. The heists seemed so coordinated, as they happened simultaneously in different places. In response to this, youths from the affected communities have organized themselves into vigilance committees to keep watch over their neighborhood at night. Some experts have stated that the robberies are a direct consequence of the lockdown order. According to these experts, the lockdown being a copy and paste prototype from the West is an unrealistic approach in this clime for many reasons, one of which is the fact that most of the population depends on the informal economy for their daily needs. With so much uncertainty about the economic and political landscape in post COVID19 Nigeria, many are hoping the crisis births a different Nigeria where policymakers are truly at the service of the people. Others, on the other hand, want things to come to normal. Litany is my reflection on the ongoing COVID19 pandemic crisis in Nigeria and the questions I have had to ask myself of late . It reflects the spirit of the times and asks the many questions tugging in the minds of millions of Nigerians: what does post COVID19 Nigeria look like? Would there be a mental revolution in the political class? What would the economy look like? Would the crisis put an end to health tourism amongst the political class? Is it time to truly look inwards and develop an indigenous system of government that is pro Nigerian?
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Israel Aigberadion (Mentee, The Nlele Insitute Lagos )

“How Much Longer“

In the latter part of 2019, the world was introduced to a new infection. It surfaced in china and it seemed so far away.The ordinary man on the streets of Nigeria couldn’t be bothered. But covid 19 could not be hindered by such things/concepts as time zones, or nautical miles. It gradually became real to a lot of Nigerians. As Nigeria’s index case of Covid19 was announced late February 2020, and before long everything that was news-from-afar to us became our own very reality. Roads become deserted, Malls could only manage trickles of patronage, shops locked, all commercial activities except the essentials were grounded to halt. Covid19 defied great distances and timezones to spread to Nigeria and other parts of Africa and now has to be curtailed by governments discouraging mass gatherings of people, and encouraging social-distancing, behavioural adjustments as “simple“ as not touching your face, intriguing! We are faced with new unprecedented realities. Fact is, we have to adjust our lives to new realities, if we’re to survive the Covid19 pandemic. This series of work documents some realities of Covid19-induced lockdown especially in some parts of lagos.
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Two boys play a game of ping pong at a bus stop during Covid-19 lockdown in Lagos, Nigeria. 3, April, 2020. Credit: Adeyinka Yusuf
Adeyinka Yusuf (Mentee, The Nlele Insitute Lagos)

“Defying the Lockdown For Sports“

Shut indoors with insufficient entertainment and frequent power cuts, some Nigerians have defied the government’s lockdown order and taken to the streets. Boys play a game of ping pong over wooden benches in front of cramped apartments; a group of people doing aerobics on a tarred road in Gbagada went viral; and young men play football under a bridge on Lagos Island, as dozens of people watch. Weekends spent overanalysing goals and misses from the world’s top footballers have given way to DIY sports entertainment as Lagosians battle boredom in a city of high data charges and unreliable electricity. This photo story captures the absurd face of sports fandom in a time where beer parlours and cheap viewing centres are closed to their usual clientele.
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Philips Akwari (Mentee, The Nlele Insitute Lagos)


The experience of the global lockdown due to COVID-19 varies from country to country, city to city and from individuals and families to another. It’s something like we have never seen before, keeping the families indoors for one month without going out. It started with the abrupt closure of schools, then every other things followed. Nothing was ever planned. As a family, we were glad to have our children home with us but it came with another attending consequences. As a photographer, I have been working from home for two years now and the beauty of the home space was the absence of the children from during those working hours. Usually by the time they are back from school in the afternoon, I was already done with pressing issues and waiting for them to return. Now I have the children at home from morning till they sleep around 10 pm. They play from morning till night engaging in all manner of plays available including anyone they could invent to add up. They have colonized my second laptop making it the next cinema theatre after taking over the TV remote. Usually when the power goes, the laptop becomes the alternative even though most time they play the both simultaneously. While my daughter Chinenye sticks to the TV, her brother James is glued to the laptop watching those cartoons that play children’s rhymes. In addition, the old abandoned bicycle which has not been used for more than six months now was re-introduced, this time we have found out that it has becomes James perfect size at 2. It was initially bought for Chinenye who is 4 now and too big to ride on it. However, we are grateful to the school for introducing the online assignments which sometimes keep them busy. My wife Eresi ensures that the children are actively participating in the academic exercise. That little window gives me the opportunity to focus on my works uninterrupted.
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Adedeji Olalekan (Mentee, The Nlele Insitute Lagos)

“A Reflection on The Ongoing Global Health Crisis“

Coronavirus pandemic took the entire world by storm after it was discovered in Wahun China in December, 2019 and in the month of February, 2020 Nigeria had its first (publicly known) positive case from an Italian business man who flew into the country. Lagosians have been on lockdown for the third week now. Initially ordered by the state and then subsequently by the federal government, the lockdown have been received with mixed feelings. People are scared (of the corona virus) and in the same vain, hungry. Palliatives are trickling in but not going round accordingly and this is increasing the tension nation wide. With the President’s order of additional lockdown for Abuja, Lagos and Ogun state, it’s foreseen that the fight against COVID – 19 will be fought on all fronts going forward with more states either declaring curfews and partial lockdowns. In the process of documenting this project, I moved from Egbeda, Iyana Ipaja, Ikeja, Oshodi, Third mainland bridge, CMS, Lagos Island. I also discovered that the major complaint is how to beat “hunger“. People need food but cannot subsist without work. Many live and depend on daily work. With the present situation, this is not obtainable thus an indictment on the way Nigeria is economically structured. However, I decided to enlighten people as I was documenting, on the need to stay safe by staying at home, using protective masks and hand washing – being the only practical way to safety from COVID – 19. I will encourage every stakeholder in this trying time and National Orientation Agency (NOA) to do more enlightenment/awareness programs so that people can really understand that the virus is real and with us. A six year old girl had an e-photo exhibition which was as a result of stay at home. She shared some inspiring photographs on the covid19 @anufotogirl. This is my little chronicle of the Lagos Lockdown
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Gaspard L. Koutchika (Mentee, The Nlele Institute Lagos)

“Reflection on the Reality of Covid -19 Pandemic in Lagos“

This is a reflection on the reality of Covid – 19 Pandemic in Lagos State, Nigeria. With many citizens apprehensive with Lockdown due to the COVID – 19, inner communities like Bariga LCDA in Lagos State Nigeria and other parts of the State have been without electricity or Power for 5 days now. On the 4th of April, 2020 electricity was restored, water was pumped from the borehole to the tank for residents to have access to water. These are Nigerians (and Lagosians) as well and they are prone to infection as the one posed by the Corona virus. Caution is seen here “thrown into the air“. The environment is discouraging, the residents are not practicing social distancing, no face masks, obviously the COVID – 19 awareness have not gotten to the grassroots. This situation is not only in Bariga LCDA, it’s the same in Ajegunle, Igondo, Agege, Mushin, makoko, Ajangbadi, Shibiri, Okokomaiko in Ojo area of Lagos State, Ikorodu etc. This is different from areas like Lekki, Victoria Island, Banana Island, Agbara Estate, VGC Estate, Ikoyi et al where you see affluence and its inherent provisions, as “most“ can afford to stock up food stuff for their households, and are aware enough to engage with the present situation, ensuring safety living in very good environment, practice social distancing, washing of hands regularly and staying-at-home to monitor the events as it unfolds. My work is a tale of the paradoxical Lagos (Nigeria) in the time of COVID – 19.
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Ebunoluwa Akinbo (Mentee, The Nlele Institute Lagos)

“Locked Down Lagos“

This Project seeks to explore the social and economic impact of covid-19 in a city like Lagos. Usually, the city is characterised with having tension as there are a lot of people seeking their daily bread on a daily basis. Hence, lots of vehicles and people are usually seen on the streets. However, reverse is the case with the global covid-19 pandemic which has affected a lot of countries, Nigeria not being an exception. Ever since the first case was recorded in Lagos on the 27th of February, 2020, the virus has gradually spread to some parts of the country with new cases arising almost every day. As scientists all over the world try to find a cure for the virus, the best way to stop the spread of Covid-19 amongst other preventive methods as advised by experts is by isolation. The president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, placed a 14 day lockdown and a stay- at -home order on Lagos State, Ogun State and the Federal Capital Territory; Abuja starting from the 30th of March, 2020. As a result of these, the face of Lagos has changed, socially and economically. My project is looking to expose what a locked down Lagos feels like.
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Obasola Bamigbola (Mentee, The Nlele Insitute Lagos)

“Time To Bound“

Streets are blocked, schools are closed, mosques and churches suspended, businesses are limited and human movements restricted. Home becomes your most loved place and now the saying, ‘family first’ makes more sense; the memories we make with our family is everything. As the world is going through this peculiar period and most people are forced to stay at home, it becomes an important time to bound more with one’s family. Phone photographs of my boys as we observe lockdown. #lockdowndiaries #shotoniphone
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