By Chesa Chesa
On the occasion of May Day, 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari has felicitated with Nigerian workers in a message through the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, during a virtual meeting with Labour leaders via ZOOM, in consonance with the social distancing policy.
This year’s Labour Day comes amidst the ravaging Covid-19 pandemic, with Buhari noting that “that something is not right not just in our nation but globally”.
He stressed that “today, May 1, 2020, the usual pomp and ceremony characterized by sounds of drumming and march past by various Trade Unions and their Federations are missing in all the stadia throughout the Federation including our Abuja Eagle Square.
“This is so because we are fighting an invisible enemy to humanity termed Covid-19 pandemic.
“In a bid to win this war, we set up a Presidential Task Force (PTF) made up of the relevant sector Ministers and highly skilled Health Technical Experts The government had to in a well-designed Expert Advice, lock down some States of the Federation where this pandemic is most prevalent – the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, Ogun and Lagos States.
“Lagos State was and still is the EPICENTRE of the disease and of late Kano had to follow because of the new eruptions of Covid-19 in the State.
“Offices, businesses, and various forms of out-door activities have been put in abeyance so that “WE” as opposed to “I” factor may prevail so that we may live for tomorrow.
“Yes, it is a common problem and interest and it is at this time that we must be our brother’s keeper by ensuring that “I protect myself and protect others from me”.
“I, therefore, ask Nigerian Workers both in the Public and Private Sectors with her FORMAL and INFORMAL ECONOMY to bear the stringent measures for a while for our common good.
“This would enable us put the ravaging pandemic under control and restore normalcy within the confines of relevant guidelines issued by health experts and the Government for safety against Covid-19 in order to curtail its spread.
“I acknowledge that it is not easy but nations globally are in a state of war against this pandemic and in a war situation, survival is paramount.
“Though the lock-down had been partially lifted in States aforementioned, except Kano State, workers are enjoined to observe subsequent rules and regulations issued to ensure the safety of all Nigerian citizens.
“I understand the anxiety which has plagued the minds of workers over the possibility of job losses due to economic downturn caused by the pandemic and lock-down especially in the private sector.
“In this regard, the Government will ensure that no employer would retrench or lay off workers without going through due process of social dialogue which includes consultations with workers and with the Competent Authority – Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.
“Furthermore, I had earlier put in place a Presidential Economic Sustainability Committee (ESC) with the objective of developing a credible sustainability plan for repositioning the Nigerian economy now and post Covid-19 crisis period. The ESC is required to specifically explore ways and means of growing our non-oil sector – all in a bid to minimise the adverse effects of the current crisis and to also protect existing jobs and even create new jobs to help absorb the teeming army of the unemployed even before the crises.
“I conclude by expressing my appreciation to Medical Doctors and Healthcare Workers as well as their respective organisations, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU). These Health workers are doing a great service for humanity. I thank you all. I have directed that requisite incentives and hazard allowances enhancement and insurance for lives should be taken at these perilous times in favor of our Health Sector workers as a way of showing our appreciation. Also, personal protective equipment for their safety is also guaranteed.
“Great Nigerian Workers, your resilience in times of adversity is not questionable. I appreciate you all and I know that with collective will and sense of responsibility, as a team, we shall triumph as a nation.
“Observe all the Health Protocols as already established by the World Health Organisation (WHO), in terms of hygiene, wash your hands regularly, observe Social Distancing, and Stay Safe.”