The Federation of Informal Sector Workers Organisation of Nigeria (FIWON) is seeking partnership with the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and other informal sector organization to tackle the plight of informal sector workers in the country.
The general secretary of FIWON comrade Gbenga Komolafe while speaking with Journalists in Abuja lamented that the covid-19 intervention by both federal and states government during the lockdown has exposed how vulnerable the informal sectors are.
Comrade Gbange lamented a situation whereby the information sector is excluded from government policies and programmes, despite the fact it is employing over 80% of the working population and contributing close to 60% to the national GDP.
‘‘The workers and operators in the informal sector are often inadvertently excluded from public decision-making processes. This result in a lot of policy gaps and sometimes, not very effective government intervention programmes aimed at providing development services to the informal sector.
‘‘Historically, the informal sector in Nigeria is defined by lack of access to basic social protection services especially old-age care and support, maternity care and support as well as accident and disability care and support systems. To worsen the situation, informal sector operators are subjected to wanton exploitation through indiscriminate imposition of taxes and levies as well as extortion by law enforcement agencies through arrests and seizure of goods and equipment of work.
‘‘Particularly, the COVID-l9 Pandemic has impacted most terribly on informal workers with our members reporting widespread hunger and ill health during the lockdowns imposed by the Federal and State governments in Nigeria as part of COVID-19 mitigation measures.
‘‘Our members also reported hundreds of deaths attributable to the inability to feed self and family members during the lockdowns as palliative measures announced by the government at different levels were grossly inadequate. Indeed, the COVID-l9 intervention and mitigation measure have sharply amplified the vulnerability of informal workers and the least protected.
‘‘It is highlighting deep economic and social inequalities and inadequate health and social protection systems. Scores of millions of poor working people engaged in the agriculture, food production and supply chains, household materials supply and processing, artisans engaged in petty manufacturing, fabrications, repairs and construction, shoemakers, including those engaged in footwear, clothing and garment making, transportation and vehicle repairs, waste picking and recycling, market vending and retailing etc, have been severely impacted.
‘‘Months after lockdown measures have been eased all over the country, a lot of informal workers find it difficult to get back to business as costs of basic inputs and transportation have skyrocketed while meagre working capital has been exhausted during the lockdowns.
‘‘Unfortunately, most of the intervention plans announced by federal and state governments have failed to specifically target the informal sector despite its macroeconomic importance, employing over 80% of the working population and contributing close to 60% to the national GDP.
‘‘The National Social Safety-Nets Coordinating Office in the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs office responsible for building the National Social Register & coordinating livelihood support to extremely poor & vulnerable households in Nigeria, has the most relevance to the informal sector at this time, but needs to work more closely with FIWON and other informal sector organizations to access those desperately in need of urgent assistance’’