BimbolaOyesola, [email protected]
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has criticised Federal Government’s continous extension of the COVID-19 lockdown without defined structure.
This is even as it reiterated that gradual ease of lockdown on sectorial basis is the solution to succeeding in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and the attendant economic dislocations.
The NLC president, Ayuba Wabba, reacting to the Federal Government’s announcement of further extensionof restrictions last week, said labour’s position that both health and the economy were interwoven remained the same. He noted that as World Health Organization has hinted that COVID-19 would still be around for a long time as countries experienced it at different times, then easing lockdown has to be planned country-specific process.
He stated that the WHO also described complete wellbeing as cutting across physical, social and economical, hence the need for planned gradual lifting of the lockdown on sector basis to save people’s means of livelihood.
He said, “Nigeria’s case is peculiar where we have over 180 million in the informal sector; continued lockdown without following proper timetable would continue to escalate the case as we are experiencing now.
“It is not just adding another two weeks, it has to be organised that people would comply, how many law enforcement personnel do we have? So, for us to succeed, we have to work with communities, have a timetable and guidelines before the set dates. It cannot just be sudden.”
The labour leader noted that, in order to save the economy, Nigeria must be able to find a way around COVID-19, just as other economies of the world are currently doing.
He reasoned that the increase in the number of confirmed cases might not be negative but for the fact that the testing capacity has increased, adding that the emphasis should now be on preventive measures as the virus have no cure yet: “Moreso when International Monetary Fund has warned that the aftermath of COVID-19 for Nigeria economically will be devastating, we will have to open up the economy, but gradually and sector by sector.
“I’ve not seen sector-specific with the extension, that’s the missing link. I expected the Presidential Task Force, by now, to have sub-divided into sectors, with specific guidelines. We should have the aviation, tourism, banks, manufacturing, etc, all with specific dates to resume, with sector-specific guidelines. Whereas extension without proper guidelines would be like putting protocol without guidelines. It will spell doom for the country.”