*NLC President, Mr. Ayuba Wabba with other comrades at one of their many protests before the COVID-19 pandemic
Should the government further extend the current lockdown imposed on Lagos State, Ogun State and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has predicted the likelihood of social unrest. But their warning is coming on the day the Nigerian Governors Forum met to agree on a two-weeks state-to-state lockdown.
The government had imposed the lockdown order to curb the spread of the dreaded Coronavirus (COVID-19), which has claimed the lives of over 180,000 people around the globe including Nigeria. The NLC also faulted the palliatives being provided by the federal government to the poor, urging for an expansion of the social register to cover most Nigerians affected by the pandemic.
A letter that was addressed to the Chairman of the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, which was sighted by the media, the NLC said that the stimulus package should be in consultation with other social partners. The letter dated April 14, 2020 was signed by NLC President, Mr. Ayuba Wabba.
He said in the letter, “While we understand the public health imperatives for extending the lockdown in some parts of the country, it is also very important to underscore the fact that the states currently under total lockdown are the economic and administrative nerve centres of Nigeria. This is very dicey. As much as it is important to keep many Nigerians from dying in the hands of coronavirus, loss of income and the accompanying destitution can also be a pathfinder for numerous other sicknesses and deaths. This is the time to play the balancing game. The truth is that our economy might relapse into prolonged coma if the current lockdown in the nation’s nerve centres goes beyond the current extension.”
According to him, “The first two weeks of the lockdown in some parts of the country, there were widespread acts of civil disobedience, inducement of law enforcement agents to gain passes and even various forms of violent crimes. No one is sure how long this dam would hold. We fear that the situation will get out of hand if the lockdown exceeds one month. While we commend government for being proactive, we opine that the stimulus package would be best served through consultation with social partners. Labour and private sector employers have a good understanding of industries where jobs and production are in most danger.”