Following the outbreak of COVID-19, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has called for a broad lockdown in the country with exception to the provision of essential goods and services, noting that it as the only measure that will help curb the spread of the virus.
In a statement signed by the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, he said that such large-scale lockdown should be accompanied with appropriate support systems that allow workers who provide essential services to function and in a manner that provides protection and sustenance to them and their families.
He advised that in exercising the wide level lockdown, government should ensure that it is done in a way that guarantees citizens especially the vulnerable groups including those without income access to essential goods and services to meet basic needs.
Speaking further, he said that anything short of this would be an invitation to mass hysteria, confusion and widespread unrests which would extremely complicate the current prevalence of the Covid-19 pandemic.
While commending the partial lockdown in Lagos and other cities, Wabba said the Congress “foresee an expansion of this extreme yet necessary initiative if we must contain the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Given the prevalence and devastation caused by the Covid-19 virus pandemic even in countries with very strong and resilient health systems, it is important for all governments especially our own government to deal with this pandemic as a national emergency.
“As it is, we foresee a situation where more factories and workplace will experience closure and reduction in working hours. We insist that workers must not be cannon fodders for these socio-economic fallouts.
“In all of these, we demand job and wage protection. To make this possible, factories and businesses will require fiscal stimulus, financial aids and other macro-economic support incentives at this critical time.
“For millions of workers in the informal sectors including our members in the transport, in the markets and all categories of artisans who are involved in involuntary lockdown, we demand cash grant through their associations to enable them cope during this difficult time.”
He, however, criticised the Federal Government for not following due diligence in its national strategy against Covid-19, especially in areas of on-the-spot check at ports of entry, 14 days self-quarantine order, and contact tracing cum follow up where necessary.
“At the national level, there is a national strategy against Covid-19. We have, however, noticed that the strategy is not being diligently pursued. We have been informed that there are inadequate facilities for on-the-spot check in our ports of entry.
“Even tracking processes are not conforming to global standards to confront the situation. To compound the situation, elitist syndrome or the Nigerian ‘bigmanism’ has severely impaired our response as some senior government officials refuse to subject themselves to routine test, self-quarantine and tracking. These negative attitudes contribute to rising number of Covid-19 infection in Nigeria,” said Wabba.
Furthermore, he called on government to provide suitable quarantine facilities that inspires confidence in citizens and assures everyone that infection with Covid-19 and subsequent isolation is not a death sentence.
He also called on government to urgently invest in mass testing and treatment of established infections with Covid-19 as well as put in place other preventive measures against Covid-19 such as hand washing cum sanitizing including fumigation of public places, proper protective equipment for health workers, social distancing, and prompt reporting and follow up on suspected cases, saying it’s clearly far better than treatment.
“It is re-assuring that over 80% of the reported cases made very successful recovery. Government must invest urgently in ample provision of test reagents, drugs, ventilators and other clinical facilities that can facilitate quick turn-around for those infected with Covid-19,” said Wabba.