President Muhammadu Buhari has told workers that despite the expected downturn in the nation’s economy owing to the coronavirus pandemic, the Federal Government will ensure that workers won’t be retrenched without due process.
Seeking to allay the fears of workers for their jobs, which has heightened recently, the president in a message to mark the occasion of this year’s Labour Day said the Presidential Economic Sustainability Committee recently set up has the responsibility to reposition the economy and protect jobs.
In a message read on his behalf by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, during a virtual meeting with labour leaders, Buhari said: “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 lockdown 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 with the objective of developing a credible sustainability plan for repositioning the economy now and post COVID-19 crisis period.
“The committee 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.”
President Buhari noted that something was not right with the world because of the virus outbreak.
He stated: “But today, May 1, 2020, the usual pomp and ceremony characterised 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.”
He said in a bid to win the war, government had set up a Presidential Task Force (PTF) made up of the relevant sector Ministers and highly skilled Health Technical Experts.
Buhari noted that the government had to in a well-designed expert advice, lock down some states 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.