By Henry Odeh
…says Nigeria either revamp public hospitals and survive or fail to salvage it and bear the consequences
…warns that COVID-19 funds may end up in hands of a few
Labour activist and human rights lawyer, Femi Aborisade,has urged the organized labour and the masses in the country to embark on strikes in order to impress it on the leaders to use budgeted and mobilized COVID-19 funds to salvage the health sector and curb medical tourism.
Aborisade stated this over the weekend in a webinar organized by the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Lagos State Council. The webinar had the theme:”Transformational Leadership and Labour Unionism During Challenging Times”.
Aborisade emphasized that unless there is pressure from the below and masses, governments could not be expected to commit the funds to the socioeconomic right deficits.
“In the absence of pressure by the masses from below, the budgeted and mobilised funds would be monopolized under different economic stimulus packages for the ruling class, including big business. In other words, COVID-19 funds would end up being concentrated in the hands of a few. Concentrated wealth in the hands of a few means concentrated power as it facilitates political capture and political capture breeds economic and political exclusion. That is, economic and political inequality.
“Unless there is pressure from below, governments cannot be expected to commit the mobilized and budgeted funds to the identified socioeconomic rights deficit issues” .
While speaking on various crises, industrial actions and conflict bedevilling various states ,Aborisade said:”All the conflicts are symptomatic of a system in total decay.
Organised labour and its civil society allies should develop a programme of action along with the medical sector unions, including the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) to salvage healthcare system in Nigeria.
“A comprehensive programme should be developed on what to do to salvage healthcare system. Covid-19 funds mobilized by the governments should, at least, be dedicated to the health sector. Revamping and salvaging the public hospitals, on the basis of free and qualitative medical care should be the minimum concession we should win from the state in this era of covid-19 pandemic.
“We should draw it home to the ruling class: No more medical tourism for any public officer. We either revamp the public hospitals and survive or we fail to salvage it and bear the consequences together.
The life of the ruler is not much more important than the life of the ordinary person.
“But we must remember always that rights are not given. They have to be fought for and won. To this extent, I call on organized labour to plan for and embark on nationwide strikes to back up concrete demands to salvage the collapsed healthcare system in the context of Covid-19. The seeds to change society are latent in the courage to resist. Through collective action, participants feel a sense of their collective power. In inaction, individual workers/persons develop a sense of powerlessness. If we fight, we may win. If we don’t fight, we have lost”.
Earlier, Lagos State TUC chairman, Gbenga Ekundayo,said:”The Organised Labour must nurture true leadership to ensure that service being real purpose of office, when we seek office, even as some comrades currently do across the affiliates, must not only be done but seen to be done with conscience and integrity, to the benefit of members and not for self benefits, vain glory or self adulations”.
The unionist added that it was pertinent that man seeks continuous improvement through the acquisition and application of knowledge.