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Africa News of Monday, 8 June 2020


Job cuts displace workers as Coronavirus hits employers in Nigeria

Employers in different sectors of the Nigerian economy have disengaged workers to mitigate the negative effect of coronavirus pandemic on their ventures.

Daily Trust's findings show that most sectors of the economy are affected apart from those driven by technology.

However, at least N107.45 billion has been accessed by beneficiaries from the N1.15 trillion Central Bank of Nigeria's (CBN's) COVID-19 pandemic intervention funds within the last 90 days, data by the apex bank has indicated.

The data showed that close to 6,000 beneficiaries, comprising organisations and individuals, had accessed the loans so far.

Reports from across the country revealed that workers have been disengaged from the aviation, hospitality, banking, construction, manufacturing, media and sales and services sectors.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported over the weekend that 42 percent of Nigerian workers lost their jobs as a result of the impact of COVID-19, diminishing incomes of 79 percent of households in Nigeria.

"The impact on employment and income has also been widespread. The impact of COVID-19 has been most strongly felt in the commerce, service and agriculture sectors," NBS explained.

50,000 jobs cut in the MSME sector

The Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) operators are among the worst hit by the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic as some of them closed shops and their employees automatically lost their jobs.

The National Vice President, North Central of the National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, (NASME), Engineer Auwal Bununu Ibrahim projected that about 50,000 workers have been disengaged in the MSMEs sub-sector of the economy. Ibrahim said over 10,000 MSMEs businesses have collapsed across the country.

Director-General of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Dr Muda Yusuf, said employers have very little capacity to absorb the shocks inflicted by the COVID- 19.

"Their cash flow had since collapsed; most of them depend on daily income streams for survival and they cannot sustain their workforce when their income streams have collapsed," he said. He said worst hit are businesses in catering, rental, decoration, event planning and musicals among others.

Data from NBS show Nigeria has about 47 million MSMEs in the country.

An expert and Senior Economist with SPM Professionals, Mr Paul Alaje, projected that "unemployment figures may reach 40 percent record high by Q4 2020."

Hotel workers at home without pay

Many hotels have disengaged staff in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Several support staff have been asked to stay at home without pay pending when businesses pick up.

A staff of a top hotel in Abuja, Moses Sule, said he has been waiting to be recalled since the management asked most staff to stay away from work without pay.

Sule said it has been a harrowing experience for him and his colleagues.

Media cut employees

The COVID-19 pandemic took a toll on media outlets in Nigeria leading to disengagements and early retirement of some staff.

Findings show that newspaper and radio firms were the most affected with at least three media organisations that retrenched workers or converted them to freelance staff while many others had slashed workers' salaries as a way to cut cost.

The chairman of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Abuja Chapter, Emmanuel Ogbeche, told our correspondent that the number of media practitioners that are losing their jobs is increasing. Ogbeche urged media organisations not to put profit above media ethics and professionalism.

"Some of the hands that are being retrenched are experienced hands and the media industry needs them to groom new hands," he said.

Uncertainty grips staff at ports

Nigerian ports may suffer job cuts any moment from now as a result of low cargo imports.

The National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA) has warned Nigerians to expect a low turn-around of cargoes into different ports starting from June 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Deputy National President of the Council, Adeniyi Ajayi said "Clearing Agents might not be able to get jobs as a result of low cargo trade. As a clearing agent, what will be the need to have ten to 15 workers amidst job scarcity?" he asked.

The President of Association of Nigerian Licensed Clearing Agents (ANLCA), Tony Iju, said the maritime sector had recorded job losses. He said shipping companies have laid-off workers while freight forwarders asked their boys to stay back.

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