The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Federation of Informal Workers’ Organizations of Nigeria (FIWON) has declared support for Nigeria labour Congress (NLC) warning strike with demand for minimal social protection.
The Informal Worker’s made this declaration during an emergency Virtual Meeting on the State of the Nation and the desperate situation informal workers find themselves, on September 4, 2023 during which the following Observations were made:
- That the Nigerian working people have been faced with extraordinary challenges since the outbreak of Covid-19 and the very chaotic and destructive lock downs and supposed mitigation actions of government.
- That the extreme attacks on the livelihoods of working people in the informal economy without concomitant necessary palliatives led to widespread desperation that resulted in the #Endsars protests which exposed the wanton greed of ruling elites even as warehouses were attacked and thousands of tonnes of food items meant as palliative to help people during the lock downs, were accessed and found to be already going bad while people were dying of hunger.
- That the 3.4 billion dollars IMF loan to assist economic recovery in the wake of C-19 in 2020 remains largely unaccounted for till this day as the money and other sundry donations by local and international donors were managed under spurious schemes and programs marked with high level opacity and total lack of accountability.
- That subsequent government programs and actions since 2020 have aggravated gross income inequality, attacked productive activities especially in the informal economy, particularly the policies of currency redesign, fuel price hike and gross devaluation of the naira announced and implemented by Government in the Year 2023 alone.
- That just like in 2020, the programs announced by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu government to cushion the effects of the harsh policies; the 48,000 naira in 6 months for each of 12 million households which was jettisoned as a result of public outcries and the new policy of 5 billion naira grants per state through state governments, monies now being used to procure rice to be distributed to households are not only grossly inadequate and insensitive, such policies fail to recognize that basic healthcare, education, transportation, apart from food and other essentials are now out of reach of most Nigerians.
- That these situations have led to a spike in absolute poverty and immeseration with increased desperation and spike in crime and social vices.
The FIWON National Executive Committee (NEC) – in – session therefore decided on the following:
To fully and wholly support the NLC demands for an urgent wage review to reflect present day realities: rapid and immediate introduction of CNG to facilitate CNG powered vehicles as an alternative to premium motor spirit which is still been imported and has become unaffordable as well as immediate payment of salary arrears of ASUU members, being withheld by Federal Government.
- Immediate implementation of free health coverage for children under 5 years old, pregnant women and elders 60 years and above. As it is, these categories of Nigerians are excluded from the Basic Health plans of most HMOs. It is ridiculous that the most vulnerable are being excluded from basic health coverage!
- A review of the so called Micro Pensions Plan for Informal Sector to ensure government part funding of informal workers pension contribution. This will in the long run, protect informal workers at old age.
- Immediately reverse the introduction of school fees in public schools, colleges and universities as children of the working poor are already dropping out of schools in the wake of recent spikes in school fees.
- Immediate introduction of social pension to the most vulnerable especially old people, the infirm and the long term unemployed.
It is our conviction that only a minimal social protection package as above can help resolve the pervasive crisis of social insecurity, growing social anomie and desperation among the down trodden mass of working people in the informal sector.