COVID-19: NLC calls for total lockdown of the country

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), on Wednesday, called for a broad, total and national lockdown of the country in the wake of the continue spread of COVID-19; in a bid to check the further spread of the disease.

Besides, the congress blamed top government officials with their negative attitude of bigmanism, elitist syndrome for the rising number of Covid-19 infection in Nigeria.

In a statement issued Wednesday evening in Abuja and signed by the NLC President, Com Ayuba Wabba, the congress advised the Federal Government to consider a national lockdown for a reasonable period of time.

The NLC specifically called for a broad lockdown of the country with exception to the provision of essential goods and services.

The congress said: “We call for a 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.

“We reiterate our call for the government to consider a national lockdown for a reasonable period of time if the current level of infection escalates.

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“In line with Section 45 of Nigeria Constitution which empowers the government to limit citizens’ rights in the favour of public safety, we encourage citizens to comply fully with government directives on public orders on COVID-19.”

Com Wabba, however, explained further: “On a population-wide level, lockdowns must be exercised in a way that guarantees citizens especially the vulnerable groups including those without income access to essential goods and services to meet basic needs. Anything short of this would be an invitation to mass hysteria, confusion and widespread unrests which would extremely complicate the current prevalence of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We also wish to reiterate our earlier concerns on the directive by the government for exposed citizens to self-quarantine. The recent exponential rise in the cases of Covid-19 infection mostly by citizens who returned from countries with worse case prevalence proves that self-quarantine would be largely ineffective in our clime owing to a mix of factors including economic, social, religious and behavioural.”

He regretted that the national strategy against COVID-19 was not working, saying, “at the national level, there is a national strategy against COVID-19. We have, however, noticed that the strategy is not being diligently pursued.

“For instance, a key component of the national strategy is to conduct an on-the-spot check at ports of entry, order self-quarantine for 14 days, and do contact tracing cum follow up where necessary.

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.”

With the recent reports that the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Abba Kyari testing positive, the Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed, and the son of former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, the NLC president frowned at the attitude of Nigerian top government officials and the rich men for their negative attitude which has put the country at risk.

He said: “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. These negative attitudes contribute to the rising number of COVID-19 infection in Nigeria.

“We call on government to urgently invest in mass testing and treatment of established infections with Covid-19. Mass testing at this point is very critical as it will help identify infections long before further transmission.

“It is reassuring that over 80% of the reported cases made a very successful recovery. The government must invest urgently in ample provision of test reagents, drugs, ventilators and other clinical facilities, that can facilitate quick turn-around for those infected with COVID-19.”

NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

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