A coalition of labour movements and over 70 civil society groups have launched a new platform to campaign for the protection of the interest of workers and the vulnerable poor against the far-reaching economic and socio-cultural impact of COVID-19 in Nigeria.
The new coalition, Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond, was launched ahead of May 1, which is Workers Day.
According to a statement by the group’s Secretary for Publicity, Adewale Adeoye, human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), was elected as its interim chairman.
Other interim officers include Ms. Hauwa Mustapha (deputy chairman), Mr. Ade Atambi (Secretary,).
Adeoye said the coalition has an extensive network of participating organisations drawn from across Nigeria’s six-geo political zones.
Some of the affiliate members are Nigerian Labour Congress, Nigerian Trade Union Congress, United Action for Democracy, Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre, Journalists for Democratic Rights, Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, Amalgamated Union of Public Corporation, Civil Services Technical And Recreational Services Employees, Civil Liberties Organisation (Bayelsa), COPEAIDS Foundation, Committee for the Defence of Human Rights among many others.
ASCAB bemoaned the fact that Coronavirus was turning the world upside down and that responses from the corrupt elite was for a lockdown until the virus goes away without a short and long term strategic plan.
It said authorities in Nigeria had failed to link the spread of the pandemic to failure of an effective public health system, the absence of social security and health insurance for the masses, while governments had no preference for provision of the essentials of life like housing and food security.
It condemned a regime of policies driven by investments in consumables rather than production.
It said Coronavirus had exposed the vulnerability of Nigerians to communicable diseases and has demonstrated the complete lack of creativity on the part of leadership.
The group warned on the consequences of neglecting indigenous alternative medicine by public health administrators.
It said there are 72,000 doctors registered with the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria but more than half of those in this category have been compelled to flee the country for overseas.
The group said COVID-19 will have long and short term implications for the political economy of Nigeria and that only a leadership driven by common good can lead Nigeria out of the doldrums.
ASCAB said it will work with local, regional and international organisations to ensure networking and collaboration for leadership responsibility in Africa and Nigeria.