As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to mark Workers’ Day, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, has commended health workers leading the battle to contain the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country.
Workers’ Day is celebrated on May 1 every year.
Abubakar, in a statement on Thursday in Abuja, said this year’s Workers Day was coming at a time when Nigeria was in the middle of a ravaging health pandemic.
He said he believed it was more appropriate to use the opportunity to express utmost gratitude to health workers who had been leading the battle to contain the spread of the deadly virus.
“Since December last year when the novel coronavirus reared its ugly head in China, it has expanded to nearly every corner of the world. Nigeria has not been spared of this scourge.
“From our index case in February, the plague has spread to 33 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) with 1,728 confirmed cases and 51 deaths, according to information from Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), as at April 29.
“The good news, however, is that thanks to our heroic healthcare workers, 307 persons were successfully treated and discharged.
“One of those is my son, Mohammed. I remain eternally grateful to the medical personnel for their services.”
Abubakar expressed optimism that after the pandemic, governments would see the need to increase spending on healthcare and human capital development.
He said they should also work toward a better standard of living for the people and other topical issues being demanded by the Labour.
Abubakar said 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.
“But even the greater casualties of the current lockdowns are the workers.”
Abubakar said there were abundant reports about how companies and corporations were laying off staff and cutting wages.
According to him, some state governments are finding it difficult to pay salary, while others are slashing workers’ salary on account of the COVID-19 situation.
“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 see each other as partners in progress.
“On the occasion of this year’s Workers Day, I join many across the world in solidarity with the Nigerian workers in particular who have been making great sacrifices to keep our frontiers firm.
“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,” he said.