Nigeria Workers And The Challenge Of COVID-19
By: Rahaman Onike
Nigerian workers this year are not just in a state of dilemma like other Nigerians, they were caught unaware by COVID-19 pandemic that is currently plaguing the entire universe. Of course, this moment is not the best of time for the Nigerian workers including those in the public service and private sector of the nation’s economy.
Apart from the anxieties caused by the daily increase in the death toys, workers are equally feeling threatened that they may lose their jobs after the pandemic. There are reasons to fear to give the likely aftermath effects of the pandemic on the global economy. Dramatically, workers in the last six weeks were forced to stay at home. Ordinarily, one will expect that workers would be doing their works at home, if not fully but on skeletal scales. Contrarily, the reverse is the case due to the myriad of challenges that have been the bane of public service delivery in Nigeria since the pre-colonial era.
From all indications, it seems both the governments and workers at various levels never envisaged this kind of social problem and as such didn’t prepare for the messy situation we find ourselves giving the near-collapse of the economy under the present circumstance. The reality is that we are likely to be doomed if adequate measures are not taken expeditiously on how to ensure the survival of the nation’s economy after the pandemic.
As the federal and state governments continue to devise measures toward the mitigation the dire consequences of the novel coronavirus pandemic, workers should get prepared to make necessary sacrifices to assist the nation to achieve speedy economic recovery after the pandemic. This is the right time for the workers to be engaging in serious rumination on how to assist the nation make up for the loses so far recorded since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. One way to achieve this goal is for every worker to capture all the lessons learnt from the ongoing experience with the view to make use of the experiences when work resumes. Expectedly, When work resumes and workers are fully returned to their desks, it is important everyone thinks about how to make use of the experience learnt during this critical period in our nation’s history to add value and contribute meaningfully to economic recovery measures which the governments are bound to introduce.
For the avoidance of doubt, this period has taught workers a lesson that the business climate may change by technology and pandemic such as COVID-19 as we experience currently. One major failure of the employers of labour in the country as currently exposed by the coronavirus pandemic is that both the government and managers of the private sector lack effective and enduring coping strategies for business and economic survival during global crises.
Unlike the situation in the developed economies where e-organization operate without any serious hindrance, the prevailing business and organizational culture in our own country today is far below the minimum standard. The best way to understand my concern is to look at the issue from the perspectives of its three underlying components-the use of the internet, intranet and extranet to achieve effective service delivery particularly in the public service as the pandemic wrecks havoc.
Even the private sector that seems to have already been paying attention to the scientific innovations being the in-thing now such as e-business and e-commerce have not got it right as workers and management of the private organizations equally face the challenge of cyberloafing on daily basis.
More importantly, the current reality has equally exposed our country and the workforce to be ill-prepared for telecommuting which is all about the operation of the virtual office system. Even when workers are ready to operate a virtual administrative system, the success still depends largely on critical factors such as availability of power supply, internet access and computer literacy skills of the workforce.
Whatever the circumstances, workers should remain steadfast and not losing hope. The storm will soon be over. What is expected of the Nigerian workers is to see the period of lockdown to keep safe and obey the government directives on COVID-19. This is not the time to pursue or engage in any risky venture so much when the storm is over workers will be alive, hale and hearty to contribute significantly to the nation’s economic recovery and infrastructural development.
Public Commentator & Trade Union Activist writes from Oyo, Oyo State