States Lack Uniform Pandemic Strategy, Say NLC, TUC

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Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) have lamented that state governments have no uniform strategy and response in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic and sometimes have conflicting responses with the federal government.

The unions added that the deportation of Almajirai across the country had worsened the spread of the virus, while noting that more special isolation centres were needed to be built across states to contain the pandemic.

The unions stated this after holding a Labour-Civil Society Situation Room on COVID-19 in Abuja, adding that among the recommendations to chart a new course forward was for the federal government to provide “stimulus package to employers who have demonstrated iron-clad commitment to keep jobs, retain existing salaries and expand production.”

The labour unions demanded these in a joint communiqué issued yesterday and signed by the NLC President, Mr. Ayuba Wabba, and TUC President, Mr. Quadri Olaleye.

The unions said, “Our observations and concerns are; one, the Labour-Civil Society Situation Room observed that the relaxation of the lockdown in the Federal Capital Territory, Lagos and Ogun states brought about some challenges and concerns which can be quickly addressed and fixed.

“The failure to phase the lockdown relaxation by sectors and the absence of sector specific guidelines on the lockdown relaxation led to overcrowding of people at public places such as banks and markets.

“The Situation Room observed the absence of uniform strategy and response among states and a mix of conflicting responses between the Federal Government and the sub-national governments. The situation has frustrated a streamlined and cohesive approach to public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic thus expanding the risk of exposure and deepening vulnerability of the general population to COVID-19.

“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.

“The number of testing centres and kits for COVID-19 in Nigeria remains inadequate for our population. Nigeria has so far tested about 22,492 people, a number that still lags behind that of other African countries. The deportation of Almajirai children across many states in Nigeria has given rise to active mobility of COVID-19 cases.”

The unions called for the de-contamination of the major international airports operational during the COVID-19 pandemic, saying failure to fumigate aircraft and airport terminals exposes airport workers and users to the virus.