The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has bemoaned inadequate facilities amid the increasing cases of the Coronavirus (COVID-19 )in the country even as the numbers hits above 50 in the last three days in Nigeria.
NLC President Ayuba Waba, said this in a statement even as he called for a broad lockdown of the country with exception to the provision of essential goods and services as well as wage protection for Nigeria workers in amid the increasing devastation of the virus in the work place.
He said “such a large-scale lockdown should be accompanied with appropriate support systems that allows workers to function and in a manner that will provide and sustenance to them and their families.”
He said although there is a national strategy against Coronavirus, but the strategy is not being diligently pursued. “For instance, a key component of the national strategy is to conduct on-the-spot check at ports of entry, order self-quarantine for 14 days, and do contact tracing-cum follow up where necessary.
“From the onset, we expressed our doubt about the efficacy of the self-quarantine strategy. Now, our fears have been proven right by the multiplicity of cases including some of our members who returned from trips abroad without appropriate information and actions at the port of entry, apart from instructions to self-quarantine.
“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,” he said
He also noted that situation is compounded by the elitist syndrome or the Nigerian ‘bigmanism’, which has severely impaired the response as some senior government officials refuse to subject themselves to routine test, self-quarantine and tracking.
“No doubt, we are not prepared for the avoidable tragedy that looms over us. We do not have requisite infrastructure for diagnosis and treatment on a large scale. If advanced economies are finding it difficult to manage treatment situations with all their infrastructure, the situation can be better imagined with our weak systems and in some cases non-existing infrastructure and response capabilities. Outside of Lagos State, no other State including the FCT can boast of standard quarantine centres and facilities for the treatment of Coronavirus cases, ” he said.
Waba said however, that it is reassuring that the Lagos State Government took proactive to contain and manage the Coronavirus outbreak inspite of its large population density and called on other states including the FCT to be similarly proactive drawing lessons from other climes battling the pandemic.
The labour movement also commended the partial lockdown of Lagos and other cities adding that there might be need for an expansion of this extreme yet necessary initiative if the nation must contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NLC also lauded the enormous sacrifices of health workers and medical practitioners who have worked day and night in the fight against this pandemic.
On the issue of wages for workers , he said “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 said.
Innocent Odoh, Abuja