MANY WORKS DISPLACED AS COVID-19 HIS EMPLOYERS
Workers in different sectors of the economy have been disengaged as employers try to mitigate the negative effect of coronavirus pandemic on their ventures. Reports show that most sectors of the economy except for those driven by technology are affected. All sectors, banks, airlines, transport companies etc are affected and data by the central bank indicates that of the 1.15 trillion Naira Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN’s) COVID-19 pandemic intervention fund, at least 107.45 billion Naira has been accessed by beneficiaries within the last 90 days.
The data showed that close to 6,000 beneficiaries, comprising organisations and individuals, had accessed the loans so far. Reports from across the country revealed that workers have been disengaged from aviation, hospitality, banking, construction, manufacturing, media, sales and services sectors. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported over the weekend that 42 percent of Nigerian workers lost their jobs as a result of the impact of COVID-19, diminishing incomes of 79 percent of households in Nigeria. “The impact on employment and income has also been widespread. The impact of COVID-19 has been most strongly felt in the commerce, service and agriculture sectors,” NBS explained.
50,000 jobs cut in MSME sector The Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) operators are among the worst hit by the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic as some of them closed shops and their employees automatically lost their jobs. The National Vice President, North Central of the National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, (NASME), Engineer Auwal Bununu Ibrahim projected that about 50,000 workers have been disengaged in the MSMEs sub-sector of the economy. Ibrahim said over 10,000 MSMEs businesses have collapsed across the country. Director General of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Dr. Muda Yusuf, said employers have very little capacity to absorb the shocks inflicted by the COVID- 19. “Their cash flow had since collapsed; most of them depend on daily income streams for survival and they cannot sustain their workforce when their income streams have collapsed,” he said. He said worst hit are businesses in catering, rental, decoration, event planning and musicals among others. Data from NBS show Nigeria has about 47 million MSMEs in the country. An expert and Senior Economist with SPM Professionals, Mr. Paul Alaje, projected that “unemployment figures may reach 40 percent record high by Q4 2020.” Hotel workers at home without pay Many hotels have disengaged staff in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Several support staff have been asked to stay at home without pay pending when businesses pick up. A staff of a top hotel in Abuja, Moses Sule, said he has been waiting to be recalled since the management asked most staff to stay away from work without pay. Sule said it has been a harrowing experience for him and his colleagues. Media cut employees The COVID-19 pandemic took toll on media outlets in Nigeria leading to disengagements and early retirement of some staff. Findings show that newspaper and radio firms were the most affected with at least three media organisations had retrenched workers or converted them to freelance staff while many others had slashed workers’ salaries as a way of cutting cost.
The chairman of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Abuja Council, Emmanuel Ogbeche, said that the number of media practitioners that are losing their jobs is increasing. Ogbeche urged media organisations not to put profit above media ethics and professionalism. “Some of the hands that are being retrenched are experienced hands and the media industry needs them to groom new hands,” he said.
Staff at the Nigeria ports are still uncertain if they will also suffer job cuts as a result of low cargo imports. The National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA) warned Nigerians to expect a low turn-around of cargoes into different ports due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Findings also showed that private sector industry players in the insurance sector recorded a few job losses. “Cumulatively, I haven’t heard up to ten jobs loses so far in different companies, so it is not that significant to worry about,” a staff of one of the tier one insurance company’s told our correspondent. The spokesman for the Nigerian Insurers Association (NIA), Mr. Davis Iyasere said the association has not received news of sacking in the insurance companies. Also, the spokesman for the Nigerian Council for Registered Insurance Brokers (NCRIB), Mr. Dele Ayeleso, said the council hasn’t “heard of any insurance broking firm sacking any workers.” The regulator, National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) also said it has not received any information of sacking of staff due to COVID-19 in the insurance sector. The Head, Commissioner for Insurance Directorate of the NAICOM, Mr. Rasaq Salami, said he is not aware of retrenchment in the industry
The President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba, said labour foresaw massive job losses and requested government’s intervention. He said one of the greatest threats to the stability of Nigeria as a country is the issue of unemployment. The NLC boss urged companies to use part of their profits to make sure that workers are not disengaged anymore in a period the country is in economic crisis. “They should be able to put in part of what they counted as profit in the past years to serve as mitigating measure to protect those jobs,” he pleaded.