Despite the ongoing gale of retrenchments and right-sizing recorded in the private sector; President Muhammadu Buhari has again assured that his administration will ensure that no employer would retrench; or lay off workers due to the effects of COVID-19 without going through due process of social dialogue.
This was disclosed by Femi Adesina, the President’s spokesman in a statement in Abuja on Friday. He said Buhari gave the assurance in a message read on his behalf by the Minister of Labour and Employment; Dr Chris Ngige, during a virtual meeting with Labour leaders.
The meeting was held in consonance with the social distancing policy.
Buhari stated that the social dialogue would include consultations with workers and Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.
‘‘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; the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.”
Buhari disclosed that he had already 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,” he added.
However, Buhari reminded Nigerian workers that the nation is currently in a state of war against novel Coronavirus pandemic.
‘‘In a war situation, survival is paramount,” the President said.
While assuring that the lockdown in the FCT, Lagos and Ogun States except Kano State; would be partially lifted on May 4, the president enjoined the workers to observe subsequent rules and regulations issued to ensure the safety of all citizens. He urged them to always observe all the Health Protocols as already established by the World Health Organisation (WHO); in terms of hygiene, regular handwashing and observing Social Distancing.
He expressed appreciation to medical doctors and healthcare workers as well as their respective organisations; the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU); for their ongoing support in combating the spread of the deadly Coronavirus in the country.
‘‘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 favour of our health sector workers as a way of showing our appreciation.
‘‘Also, Personal Protective Equipment for their safety is also guaranteed,” he reassured.
The president added: ‘‘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.”