COVID-19: Informal sector decries exclusion in FG, States interventions

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The Federation of Informal Workers’ Organisations of Nigeria (FIWON) has decried exclusion from the Federal and State Governments’ post COVID-19 intervention programmes.

Mr Gbenga Komolafe, FIWON General Secretary, said this during a press conference on Friday in Abuja with the theme, “The Imperative of Social Protection for the Informal Workers in Nigeria in the time of COVID-19 and Beyond”.

Komolafe said that over 80 per cent of the Nigerian working population are engaged in the informal sector.

According to him, the informal sector of the country’s economy comprise of self-employed persons or group in unregulated work conditions marked by a lot of income instability and make shift work environment.

“The workers and operators in the informal sector are often inadvertently excluded from public decision-making processes.

“This results in a lot of policy gaps and sometimes, not very effective government intervention programmes aimed at providing development services to the informal sector.

“Particularly, 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.”

He added that most of the intervention plans announced by Federal and state governments have failed to specifically target the informal sector in spite of its macro – economic importance.

Komolafe therefore called on the National Social Safety-Nets Coordinating Office in the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs office to work closely with FIWON and other informal sector organisations to assist those in need of urgent assistance.

“We acknowledge the existence of several intervention funds to address the challenge of development financing in the informal sector.

“This is especially the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund, one of the CBN intervention funds but very sadly, informal sector operators find it near impossible to access.

“We call for an urgent remedy to this situation such that those at the base of the economy, the grassroots economic operators in the informal sector can access these needed funds in a more open and transparent process,” he said.

He also called for a comprehensive inclusion of the informal sector in the national social protection policy framework which must recognise the challenges of targeted beneficiaries.

“We therefore call for more deliberate action to involve and include informal workers’ organisations in the present intervention programmes by the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, among others,” he said.

FIWON is a national network of informal, self-employed working people committed to the advancement of the working people in the informal sectors with over 50 million members in 170 organisations, across 21 states.