Action Program – How the Poor Will Survive Covid-19

Covid-19 or the Corona virus is turning the world upside down. The
response from the corrupt elite is for a lockdown until the virus goes away,
but it could be 12-18 months before a vaccine is developed and distributed.
Who can survive at home for that long? The priorities for the poor majority
remain the same – how to obtain food, water and housing for their families
and friends. We also need electricity and data to stay in touch with our
friends, families and colleagues. We need mass testing and tracing of
contacts to contain the virus and free healthcare for all with protective
equipment for all health workers. We are however amazed that the World
Health Organisation has not recommended the Cuban drug, Interferon 2B,
for the treatment of COVID-19 pandemic. It has so far proved to be the
most effective drug in combating the virus. It is one of the drugs approved
by the Chinese Government in containing COVID-19 pandemic.
We need the power of the NLC/TUC to push for this Action Program. That
will ensure that the poor majority of Nigerians do not suffer so much from a
disease that was brought here by the corrupt elite flying in from London,
Paris, New York and other places.
We have a particular duty to safeguard those who are most vulnerable,
those who are already living with hunger, weakened immune systems and
poor access to healthcare. Greater restrictions and shutdowns may be
necessary, but they will only work if full support is provided to working-
class and poor communities. Comprehensive measures are needed if we are
to avoid disaster. Each of us must act now with our workmates and in our
communities.  In a society as unequal as ours, we must work together to
ensure that all safety measures are shared equitably.  
Income security for all
In order for people to remain at home, there must be income security for
all. Government and private sector employers must continue to pay salaries
or grant sick leave. All retrenchments should be stopped during this time.
Self-employed, informal workers and those whose income is suspended at
this time must be supported by the government with cash grants. This is to
prevent movement by job-seekers and to stop people having to take the
virus back to their villages. 
Social protection must be extended to ensure the direct transfer of cash to
households during this precarious time (with clear safeguards to minimise
corruption). All defaults on rent, electricity and debt repayments should
not result in penalties or sanctions. All evictions and electricity or water cut
offs must be banned. A bold economic stimulus package will be required in
the coming period. These measures must be developed in consultation with
the NLC/TUC and other trade unions.
All households, residential institutions, the homeless and the
informally housed must have easy access to water, safe washing
facilities and sanitation
There must be an immediate mass-provision of safe water access points
with unconstrained flow in areas where there is limited household access to
water. We also need mass-distribution of safe washing facilities in
community housing areas. All of these sanitation points must have access
to free soap and information on the prevention of the virus. Where
necessary governments should provide tankers with safe drinking water
and to remove sewage.
All households, residential institutions, the homeless and the
informally housed must have access to food
If we are to stay at home during this time, access to nutritious food is
fundamental. The absence of the School Feeding Programme due to the
closure of schools will hit many children and their families hard. A
coordinated and safe roll-out of free food packages directly to distribution
points in food-stressed neighbourhoods must be implemented – as has
been suggested by the Federal Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and for
Lagos State. Schools could distribute food parcels to their registered
pupils. The poor and vulnerable, elderly, refugees, IDPs, persons living with
disabilities, trafficked persons and petty traders should all be included.
Essential private facilities must be appropriated for public use to
provide a unified and fair distribution of essential goods and
services to all
Federal and state resources need to be focused and deployed in order to
combat the epidemic. Essential services – health centres, food services,
water and sanitation etc – should be identified for urgent support and
extension. This may require the conversion of factories and other places of
production to produce protective clothing, water tanks, soap, food parcels,
ventilators and other essential medical equipment. The public and private
health systems need to be regarded as one health system and coordinated
in the national and public interest. This may require private facilities being
taken over by the state, as happened in Spain. Finances may have to be
mobilised through unconventional means. The rich may have to pay higher
taxes and empty homes may have to be used to home the homeless or over-
crowded. Regulations to stop price hikes should be implemented. 
There are hundreds of thousands of unoccupied houses and other
buildings. Internally displaced people (IDP) and homeless people should be
resettled in these buildings. They should also be made available for people
living in over-crowded accommodation.
Most prisoners should be released. All the cases that have been delayed
must be hurriedly addressed. All prisoners on remand before their trial to
be released – they are innocent until proved guilty.
Community self-organisation and local action is critical, as it our
representation in national coordination
Civic organisations, community structures, trade unions and faith-based
organisations will be extremely important in organising on the ground
during this emergency. We must all take action where we are. Local trade
union structures must be engaged, supported and given representation on
state and Federal planning bodies. The distribution of reliable information,
essential services and care for our people will require a massive coordinated
effort from trade union and community leaders. Volunteers must be trained
and organised for safe, coordinated, campaigns at street-level and for those
living in institutions. Middle-class and wealthy communities and
organisations have an obligation to make resources available to poor and
working-class communities. 
We must identify strategies to calm tensions and divert violence
in our homes
Corona virus mainly kills the old and the ill. The death rate for those with
the disease is probably around one in 500. We do not need to panic. But
home-based quarantine will escalate family and relationship tensions, and
may likely lead to more violence against women, children and others most
marginalised in our families and communities including non-indigenes and
foreign nationals. We need to identify strategies to calm tensions and divert
violence in our homes and communities over this time. We need a strong
education campaign against all forms of violence, especially domestic
violence. We need to strengthen safe responses from existing
neighbourhood, regional and national organisations supporting women and
We also need to ensure that existing ethnic and region tensions are
addressed and minimised. It is all too easy to blame the foreigners and
non-indigenes but we all need to work together to address this crisis.
Communication must be free, open and democratised
There must be an immediate distribution of free phone data to all, so that
people are able to receive good information, contact loved ones during
isolation and quarantine, and understand the measures that are in place to
create safety. Access to the best international research should be free and
public. There must be daily national press conferences from government
leaders alongside scientists and professionals who can keep all of our
people informed about the emerging situation. 
The inequalities within our educational services need to be
carefully considered, and mitigated, when moving to remote
Data and free website content must be made widely available by
educational institutions for continued learning. However, there is massive
inequality of access to resources such as computers, electricity, wi-fi and
learning space, as well as difficult home situations that disproportionately
affect poor and working-class learners, students and educators. The move
to online learning should be made carefully, and as a temporary measure.
We should not extend the inequalities in the education system by affording
remote education to the few. Schools and universities should consider their
collective role as community educators and developers facing an
unprecedented shared experience. Schools, residences and dormitories
should be understood as a public resource during this time, including for
the safe distribution of food and other essential services interrupted by
school closures. 
We must prevent a nationalist, authoritarian and security-
focused approach in containing the virus.
We must guard against the quick deployment of the military and police that
may create insecurity in our communities and would spread the demanding
of bribes. We must also prevent creating scapegoats to blame for the
current crisis. Instead, we must ensure that care and resources are provided
for the safety and protection of all who live in our country and in our
How each of us responds to the Covid-19 pandemic will determine who we
are as a society. The better we respond now, the better we will be after the
pandemic. We must follow international best practice and the science that
we have available to us to build an assertive response that works for the
context of our own history and society. Our response must be just,
equitable, and redistributive if we are to meet the needs of all our people. In
times of physical distancing, social solidarity is key. 
This Action Programme is being supported by the following
organisations and individuals:
African Action Congress (AAC)
African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL)
Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association Of Nigeria (ATSSSAN)
All Workers Convergence
Automobile, Boatyards, Transport Equipment and Allied Senior Staff
Association (AUTOBATE)
Center for Awareness Reorientation and Empowerment (CARE), Africa
Centre for Human Rights and Social Advancement (CEFSAN)
Centre for Labour Studies
Civil Liberties Organization ( CLO) Bayelsa State Chapter
Civil Rights Council (CRC).
Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC)/ Transparency
International in Nigeria
Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR)
Femi Falana, SAN
Green Peoples Environmental Network (GREPNET)
HipCity Innovation Centre (HipCity Hub)
Human Rights Agenda Network
Journalists for Democratic Rights (JODER)
Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP)
National Conscience Party (NCP) 
Nigerian Human Rights Community (NHRC)
Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Oyo State
Pegarsus-Zion Community and Environmental Health
Peoples' Alternative Front (PAF)
Social Accountability & Environmental Sustainability Initiative
United Action for Democracy (UAD), Kano

Nigeria health coronavirus

  • No ratings yet - be the first to rate this.