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Lockdown: Labour, Civil Society urge gradual evidence base relaxation



The Organised Labour movement and its Civil Society allies, under the Labour-Civil Society Situation Room COVID-19, has called for gradual and evidence base relaxation of the lockdown in different states of the country.

The Labour-Civil Society Situation Room on COVID-19 made the appeal at the end of a meeting chaired by Mr Ayuba Wabba, President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), on Monday in Abuja.

The Labour-Civil Society Situation Room on COVID-19 comprised representatives of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), affiliate unions in the frontline of the COVID-19 challenge, civil society organisations and professional groups.

The meeting was held to discuss a broad range of issues pertaining to the management of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria particularly the fallout of the recent relaxation of the lockdown in the Federal Capital Territory, Lagos and Ogun States.

According to him, we emphasise the need for sector specific, gradual, and evidence led relaxation of the lockdown in different states of Nigeria.

“This is in order to avoid overcrowding in public places with the attendant risk of worsening the COVID-19 incidence.

“We also call for synergy between the Federal Government and the states. We reiterate the call for the prioritisation of adequate supply of personal protective equipment for health workers at all level of healthcare delivery;

“We call for specialised and continuous training of health workers on COVID-19 management and we call for special Isolation Centres for infected healthcare workers and standardisation of all isolation and treatment centres in Nigeria,” he said.

The NLC president said the Labour-Civil Society Situation Room on COVID-19, also called for proper equipping of isolation centres that would correct public perception as detention centres.

He said that this would also improve recovery rate, boost confidence of health workers and also make available more professional hands to fight the COVID-19 challenge.

He, however, said the Situation Room noted that the rash of conflicting responses and approaches to the COVID-19 pandemic by state governments should be addressed.

“We call on the Nigeria Governors Forum to issue a set of overarching guidelines on issues of common interest to states while allowing individual states to deal with peculiar nuances that affect them.

“We call on the Kano State Government to take the current wave of infection in the state more seriously.

“We call for very proactive measures by Kano State Government including strict enforcement of total lockdown of the state, deployment of robust public health education.

“We also call for the provision of adequate personnel and equipment for rapid contact tracing, testing and treatment of COVID-19 cases.

“We also call on the Federal Government to mobilise additional support to Kano State and other states in similar situations,” he said.

He further said the deportation of Almajiri children across many states in Nigeria has given rise to active mobility of the COVID-19 cases.

He said the failure to address and resolve the Almajiri question within the broader context of Nigeria’s “out-of-school-children” crisis has been severely exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wabba also called for adequate de-contamination of aircrafts and airports during and after the current lockdown of normal flight operations in order to safeguard the health of airport workers and users.

Wabba, however, called for a community based and decentralised contact tracing, testing, isolation and treatment, adding that this should be prioritised as a major public health policy response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He also called for more testing facilities and kits across the country as a matter of national health emergency, adding that testing centres should be established in every senatorial district of the country complete with community mobilisation and enforcement.

He said that the Situation Room called for improvement in Public Health Education through community participation and ownership to educate people on the reality, dangers and public health guidelines on COVID-19.

He also called on the FCT Administration to quickly address the challenge of salary payment in the FCT brought about by IPPIS.

Wabba, while speaking on the issue of mitigating socio-economic impact and stimulus package, said the Situation Room called on employers of labour to stop the massive layoff of workers and cut in salaries.

“We demand that the economic stimulus package by government target employers who have demonstrated iron-clad commitment to keep jobs, retain existing salaries and expand production.

“This is the time to re-think our economic strategy. We posit that the current economic crisis which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic is as a result of gross mismanagement of the Nigerian economy by successive governments.

“The continuous importation of refined petroleum products as a result of the neglect of our oil refineries, perennial distortions in our trade balance, huge patronage of foreign goods and services including medical tourism.

“Especially by public officials, dearth of a national development blueprint and appetite and widespread official corruption has brought us to this cauldron.

“To navigate out of this mess, we need a surgical socio-economic paradigm shift,” he added.

He also called for a paradigm shift in the management of the country’s resources and the economy, while re-echoing its earlier calls for an urgent national conversation for an immediate resuscitation of the four comatose national oil refineries.

He added that we also insist that Nigerians are not ready to bear yet again further costs of the clear ineptitude, policy failures and outright corruption of public officials whether in the petroleum sector or with regards to the so called cost reflective adjustment of electricity tariff.

“We call for strategic action and synergy by the federal and subnational governments on a scale of immediate, short term and long-term responses to the fallout of the COVID-19 challenge.

“Given that our country is almost at the limits of sustainable loan financing and the fact that we are almost at the same level before the debt reprieve from the Paris Club creditors in October 2005.

“We call for a cap on external and internal borrowing by different tiers of government,” he said.

He also said the Situation Room regards the bill on the Control of Infectious Diseases being currently considered by the two chambers of the National Assembly as an unnecessary distraction at this time of national health emergency.

“We demand that the bill should not in any way encroach on the fundamental rights of workers and citizens. We are also ready to engage with the bill when it comes up for public hearing,” he said.

Edited By: Nick Nicholas/Muhammad Suleiman Tola (NAN)

Joan Nwagwu: is a graduate and a professionally trained journalist, with experience in national news reporting/editing and verification at the News Agency of Nigeria. NNN is a Nigerian online news portal that publishes breaking news in Nigeria, and across the world. Our journalists are honest, fair, accurate, thorough and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting news in the best interest of the public, because truth is the cornerstone of journalism and they strive diligently to ascertain the truth in every news report. Contact: editor[at]