By the third quarter of 2019, the Nigerian government and indeed most corporate organisations had reached a consensus on what their projection for the coming year would be.
Despite the apparent difficulty in doing business in the country, the projection for the economy was positive, young Nigerians were innovating and setting up small businesses, the government in conjunction with commercial banks had introduced a low-interest loan scheme to help encourage start-ups, while big industries mostly had positive projections are were seeking avenues to grow revenue in the coming months.
The Federal Government through its various institutions and the World Bank had predicted a two per cent growth of the Nigerian economy in 2020 and the price of oil seems stable at best.
However, by November of the same year, news broke of a certain kind of virus in China that looks to be the reemergence of the SARS pandemic that plagued the country some years earlier, no one took it seriously, believing it will blow away in a few weeks.
It soon became clear that the said virus wasn’t SARS but a different, less deadly, but more rugged kind of viral infection, it became clear that this virus could spread across the world in a matter of weeks, and so it did.
To curtail the spread of COVID-19 as it was eventually called, governments across the world, Nigeria included, decided to shut down their countries, international flights were prevented from coming in, domestic travels were barred as well. Businesses, religious and recreational centres were forced to close as people were advised to remain indoors to help flatten the curve of the infection.
The price of oil in the global market suddenly plunged to an all-time low within the first few weeks of the lookdown, and the Nigerian government was forced to revisit the 2020 budget and ultimately reduce its projection for the year. The country that had a positive economic projection at the end of 2019 is now facing a recession.
The economic implication was quick to tell on the Nigerian worker, within the first two weeks of the lookdown, it was reported that banks were looking to disengage a large number of their contract staff, it took the intervention of the CBN to save the jobs of those workers.
However, the Central Bank cannot come to the rescue of Nigerians in other sectors of the economy, those in the hospitality and travel sector are more affected, a local airline was said to be looking at laying off over sixty per cent of its workforce in the coming weeks.
Other businesses are also looking to lay off their employees while those that manage to keep their jobs are forced to take massive pay cuts of up to fifty per cent in some cases.
Employers of labour have argued that such measures are necessary because of dwindling revenue, they insist that the survival of the business is necessary if they are to emerge strongly from the effect of COVID-19.
However, some have argued that mass sack or massive pay cuts are not the answer, they believe that a more humane approach to the situation would have helped the society as a whole to emerge stronger after the virus must have been defeated.
This is the situation of the Nigerian worker at this point. Do you think the approach taken by employers of labour during the pandemic was the right one or something better could have been done?
Let us have your views in the comment section.