COVID-19 vindicates Labour’s agitation for improved healthcare investment ― Atiku

• Pays tribute to healthcare workers in frontline of Covid-19 war

The former Vice President of Nigeria between the year 1999-2007, Atiku Abubakar, on Thursday stated that the COVID-19 pandemic has vindicated organised Labour’s long time agitation for improved investments in the country’s healthcare service system, adding that it is not in doubt that when the world comes out of the depressing anguish of the pandemic, governments will look around and see the absolute necessity to increase spending on healthcare.

“There is no doubt that when the world comes out of this depressing anguish, governments will look around and see the absolute necessity to increase spending on healthcare, human capital development, better standard of living for the people and all those other topical issues that Labour has long called our attention toward,” Atiku stated.

The former vice president made this known in a statement to celebrate this year’s Worker’s Day, where he expressed the need to express his utmost gratitude to health workers who have been leading the battle to contain the spread of the deadly COVID-19 in the country because this year’s Workers Day is coming at a time when the country is in the middle of a ravaging health pandemic.

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He said, “We cannot thank you enough. We are all witnesses to the reality today that governments across the world have fallen short of the requirement to keep people safe and healthy if there is a sudden and unexpected shock. For a developing country like ours, this is a moment of truth – a time for us to look inwards and accept that the strength of our national security is intrinsically connected to how virile our workforce is.

“That is a lesson that we must be ready to learn from this pandemic; that no matter what, we are all exposed to the same dangers when the time is dire. No one ever envisaged that the global economy could afford to shut down for several weeks with heavy consequences on businesses – both public and private sector,” Atiku said.

According to him, the greater casualties of the current lockdowns are the workers as there are abundant reports about how companies and corporations are laying off staff and cutting wages while many state governments in Nigeria could not pay monthly dues to workers who, even before the lockdown, lived on subsistent means, while some others are slashing workers’ salary on account of the COVID-19 situation.

“This is a grossly irresponsible thing to do. It will be wrong of us as a society to say that the weakest of us, should bear the pain of this affliction. The reverse should be the case. It will not be asking for too much to urge the National Assembly to forbid any employer of Labour from penalising workers in the effect of the pandemic. The grim reality of the situation that we are in today calls for greater understanding between government and Labour. It is, therefore, time that both entities saw each other as partners in progress,” he said.

He explained further that while the country had to embark on lockdown to stem the spread of the virus, what was left of the haemorrhaging global economy took a bruising.

“In the aftermath of that, jobs both formal and informal were the first casualties of this invisible and virulent enemy. I want to however take solace in the can-do Nigerian spirit. We shall not give up. We shall not give in. It will take more than COVID-19 and the consequential lockdown to knock us down. It will not be easy, but standing united, we can rebuild our country because it is the place we call home,” Atiku concluded.


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