Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Mrs Smith Adaeze, a staff in an insurance company in Lagos said she was shocked when she received an email with the subject “Advise to Resign.”

Adaeze said “I was speechless when I saw Advise to resign as the subject of the mail sent to me on Tuesday, 28th April 2020, by our Human Resource Officer, through the company’s official email.

“In the letter, I was given 24 hours to resign otherwise I would be served termination of appointment letter, which will be worse for my career. So I have no alternative than to forward my resignation letter as requested. “I am an accountant; I have been working with the account department for over three years and was not expecting the sudden decision of the management.”

Under the umbrella of rationalisation of workforce, Gotel Communications Limited, a company owned by former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar on Friday sacked 46 of its workers. In a letter signed by the General Manager, Mohammed El Yakubu, which read, “The management has decided to discontinue your services with immediate effect. Consequently, please be informed that your entitlements including stipend in lieu of the notice will be computed and posted into your account with immediate effect.”

Similarly, Herbert Wigwe, the Group Managing Director of Access Bank Plc, at the bank’s online Annual General Meeting, held on Thursday in Lagos, revealed the management intention to embark on mass retrenchment of staff, up to 40% pay cut for the rest of its workforce and closure of several of its branch nationwide as measures against the sweeping adverse effect of COVID-19.

“We probably don’t need as many security men as required even to the fact that we are not going to have all our branches open between now and December.

“We certainly don’t need all the security men. We don’t need all the tea girls. We don’t need all the cleaners. We don’t need all the tellers etc.

“So that number of staff, which represents seventy five per cent of our staff strength, I think is one that we basically need to speak with their employers, with a view to getting them to rationalise to the levels that we think will be necessary to basically sustain a lean but actually customer-service oriented institution,” Mr Wigwe said.

The emergence of COVID-19 Lockdown has made few others to earn a fortune.

The owner of AY Store, Mrs Tolulope Akindele in Kosofe Local Government area of Lagos said she gives glory to God, that despite the lockdown, market is still selling and she is making profit and not loss.

Mrs Tolulope said “I thank God because my market is booming beyond my imagination, compared to when there was no lockdown. Residents in this area prefers to buy provisions from me and even use my POS to withdraw money.”

When asked what triggered the high patronage of her goods, she said it was as a result of the fact that market don’t open every time and people must eat so her store is the next available option because Lagos state government has directed that market would be allowed to open within 10:00am to 2:00pm every day and it is not every one that can afford to go to the market within that time. So my store and other stores around served as alternative.”

A dispatch rider that works with an online store, Mr Femi Olokunola said since the beginning of the lockdown, there have been 80% increase in the rate at which he delivers goods to customers.

He said, “ever since lockdown begin in Lagos, my bike has always been loaded with goods immediately I resume to the office. I always received full load of goods and I would deliver them to the owner on time. Most times I would have to go on four to five trips a day. The lockdown has really helped me to make more profit as I am been paid on commission for every goods delivered.”

Undoubtedly, online stores, food processing industry and network operators are benefactors of the lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Network operators tend to be the most advantaged organization during this period, as almost all transactions are now online. Business transactions are now done online during the lockdown, staff meetings, conferences, annual general meetings, schools and religious activities have moved to the online space as individuals and companies spend more on data consumption.

Government Palliatives
The stimulus packages announced by the Federal and state government to ease the effects of the lockdown imposed on Lagos, Ogun and FCT to curtail the further spread of coronavirus pandemic have been clearly politicized.

Residents of Akinyemi in Ketu/Agboyi Local Government Area said they had lost hope of receiving any stimulus package from the state government, they complain that a greater portion of the relief materials was reserved for party members when the food items got to the local government.

60 years old man, Mr. Chris “said they are sharing food, but if you don’t have a party card, you won’t get it, they brought rice to Agboyi, the woman that was in charge divided it and said it was for party people and started sharing one derica to those who don’t have a party card.”

Similarly, the Federal government Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) has been branded to be lopsided by Nigerians. According to a Twitter user, “I have never seen a government more fraudulent and shameless as the FG of Nigeria, how can you lockdown three states in the south and be sharing money to states in the north that aren’t on lockdown? Why embezzle at every chance yáll (SIC) get.”

The informal sector, in which more than 80 percent of Nigerians work, covers a wide range of occupations, from street traders, taxi drivers, tradesmen, and artisans to food vendors and hairdressers. In Lagos alone, according to research by non-governmental organizations, 65 percent of the estimated 25 million people work in the informal sector.

Informal workers have lower incomes, often do not have savings, health insurance, or pensions that provide a basic social safety net, and 72 percent are poor.

Under international human rights law, Nigeria’s government has an obligation to protect people’s right to an adequate standard of living, including adequate food and nutrition, the highest attainable standard of health, and the right to social security.

The economic assistance that the government has announced in response to the virus has exposed inadequacies in Nigeria’s social protection systems and risks excluding the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people.
Government should urgently create a platform to deliver social and economic assistance to the tens of millions of people who are losing income due to COVID-19, especially informal workers who lack an adequate social safety net.

By Ife Adewole

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