James Ojo, Abuja
Organised labour has raised the alarm of a looming food crisis owing to the misapplication of restrictions of movement across various checkpoints and called for
a specific sectoral gradual relaxation of the lockdown in different states of Nigeria.
The impending food crisis was blamed on overzealousness and corrupt tendencies of security personnel at the various checkpoints, affecting foodstuff which were contrary to the clear directives of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Ther’s looming crisis of food insecurity essentially owing to the restriction in the free movement of foodstuff across various checkpoints in the country contrary to the clear directives of Mr. President. The Situation Room observed that this unsavoury development is occasioned by the overzealousness and corrupt tendencies of security personnel at the various checkpoints,” report stated.
According to the report of the Situation Room of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Labour observed that the lockdown relaxation without guidelines on sectoral basis has led to overcrowding of people at public places such as banks and markets.
It was concluded that public health guidelines with regards to social distancing and the use of face masks were observed largely in the breach owing to widespread failure in enforcement and individuals not taking responsibility.
“The absence of uniform strategy and response among states and a mix of conflicting responses between the Federal Government has frustrated a streamlined and cohesive approach to public health response to the CO- VID-19 pandemic, thus expanding the risk of exposure and deepening vulnerability of the general population to disease,” it was observed.
The report also identified shortfalls in the number of testing centres and kits as inadequate for the country’s population, as reports showed that about 22,492 have been tested from over 200 million people.
Labour hinged the rise in the number of infected health workers on the dearth of personal protective equipment, absence of specialised and continuous training on effective management of CO- VID-19 and support systems failure.
The Union called for prompt action that will stem the increasing cases of patients’ unrests and escape from COVID-19 isolation centres as a result of poor treatment and facilities because it portends public health danger for the wider population.
Notwithstanding the inter- vention of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Labour also observed that there had been an upsurge in job losses and salary cuts across different sectors of the Nigerian economy and demanded an end to sacking of workers.
“The Labour-Civil Society Situation Room calls 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,” it was suggested.
Labour expressed concerns over external borrow- ing, internal borrowing, the country’s external reserves, trade balance, management of the downstream petroleum sub sector especially the state of Nigeria’s national oil refineries, diversification of the economy, increase in energy costs and the hike in the prices of public utilities.
Labour asked government to re-jig its economic strategy as the current economic crisis exacerbated by the pandemic was laid by gross mismanagement.