Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has asked the federal government to urgently take further measures to ensure restriction of movement of people in order to prevent wider spread of the COVID-19 in the country.
In a statement issued wednesday by its National President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, the labour movement said government should deal with the pandemic as a national emergency.
It said government should consider compulsory isolation of infected persons.
“We call for broad lockdown of the country with exception to the provision of essential goods and services. 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 said.
Ayuba said though there is a national strategy against COVID-19 at the national level, the strategy is not being diligently pursued.
For instance, he said that 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, adding that this has not diligently pursued.
“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. 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,” he said.
Ayuba lamented that the country is faced with serious threat due the fact that it lacks capacity to withstand an epidemic of the magnitude of COVID-19.
According the Ayuba, outside of Lagos State, no other State including the FCT can boast of standard quarantine centres and facilities for the treatment of COVID-19 cases.
He commended the partial lockdown of Lagos and other cities and called for the expansion of this extreme yet necessary initiative if the country must contain the pandemic.
The NLC president said as part of intervention measures, the federal government should approve funds that can be made available to public sector workers and those in the informal sectors to cushion the effects of the ongoing lockdown of the country.
“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. In the light of the foregoing development, we would like to make further demands under the following overarching areas of national health priorities,” he said