SPN DEMANDS N100, 000 COVID-19 SPECIAL ALLOWANCE FOR HEALTH PROFESSIONALS AND ALL WORKERS ON THE FRONTLINE
FOR A FREE, ADEQUATELY-FUNDED AND DEMOCRATICALLY-MANAGED PUBLIC HEALTHCARE
1. The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) hereby demands the immediate payment of ₦100, 000 Special COVID-19 monthly allowance to all medical/health professionals and other workers at the frontline of the war against COVID-19 during this emergency period occasioned by the pandemic.
2. We also demand a declaration by the Federal and State governments that public healthcare in the country is henceforth free at the point of use alongside serious investment of public money to begin to reposition primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare across the country. The control and the management of hospitals and other health facilities should also be in the hands of democratic management committees including the elected representatives of health workers unions, concerned professionals and other relevant groups.
3. The SPN equally demands the provision of Personal Protective Equipment and free medication for all health professionals and workers at the frontline of the war against the pandemic. Given the high risk of infection faced by health care workers, the SPN also demands that the government take out a life insurance scheme for all health care workers. This will further encourage them to remain devoted to save the rest of the populace from the Covid-19 pandemic
4. We also call on both state and federal governments to provide adequate testing kits and all other necessary equipment that will allow health care workers to be fully functional. We call for democratic control, by committee of health workers unions, of the equipment procured by the government and those donated by China’s richest man, Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, and others in future in order to ensure their judicious distribution and avert situation of diverting them for sale to the rich or private hospitals. Indeed all the private hospitals and facilities that are exclusively preserved for the rich in Nigeria must be brought in to public use as to meet the current need and demand as a step toward the nationalisation of these facilities
5. We propose that this payment and provision of other facilities should be the joint responsibility of the Federal Government, the State governments and the local governments all of whom regularly draw from and benefit from the Federation account.
6. We urge the health workers unions together with the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the United Labour Congress (ULC) to reinforce these crucial demands and be prepared to fight for their immediate actualisation. All the unions and professional bodies in the health sector must immediately form joint negotiating committees to see to its immediate and effective implementation. This is the time for them to form a united front in defence of their rights and the health sector.
7. Every medical professional and worker who is saddled with the enormous task of caring for Covid-19 patients in addition to their regular duties of attending to other categories of patients as well as all first responders must be provided with these facilities immediately to ensure that they are safe. Our governments need to realize that the safety of one medical doctor, nurse, cleaners etc, translates to the safety of hundreds of Nigerians at this point in time.
8. With the Coronavirus or Covid-19 pandemic, health professionals and workers face the herculean task of making do with our dilapidated health care system which has suffered long term neglect and over which their unions have repeatedly gone on strike.
9. Indeed, it was only out of compassion and the public interest that the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) directed all striking resident doctors in the country including in FCT, Gombe, Enugu, Kaduna and Cross Rivers States to suspend their industrial actions recently so as to effectively confront the Covid-19 challenge.
10. It must be noted that the Federal and State Governments have often treated those actions with contempt by issuing threats of sack or actually sacking the protesting health workers.
11. It is in this wise that SPN equally demands the immediate payment of all outstanding salaries and allowances to doctors and other health workers and professionals in the country. Indeed, the ₦100, 000 special monthly Covid-19 allowance and life insurance being proposed for this period of the pandemic should be in addition to their normal salaries and statutory allowances.
12. While it is recognized that other categories of workers, professionals, artisans are making huge sacrifices at this period, it must be borne in mind that the health professionals belong to a special category that must work at all costs including security personnel, journalists, etc., with the attendant risks. And for as long as this pandemic lasts, these health workers would continue to isolate from their immediate and extended families besides the fact that they have to transport themselves to and fro work and feed themselves in a neo-colonial economy where citizens do not enjoy any form of social security whatsoever.
13. To the extent that the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the utter and often contemptuous neglect of the health sector by the ruling capitalist parties of the APC, PDP and APGA, the time has come for the health sector unions backed by the NLC, TUC and ULC to present a charter of demands on reviving the health sector before the Federal and State Governments through provision of free, adequately funded and democratically-managed health care at all levels. This is the time to confront the ruling elites with these demands now that the borders of Europe and America where they would fly to treat even common ear ailment are shut against them, at least temporarily.
14. We also call on the health workers and the labour movement as a whole to embrace a working class political alternative as the capitalists have shown that only their personal and private profit interests matter. If they are allowed, they will convert state resources to build medical havens for themselves under the usual deceitful guise of public-private partnership, once the Covid-19 crisis is over.
15. It is now common knowledge that this so called PPP has been a cesspool of corruption otherwise our hospitals will not be lacking in all essential facilities and therefore remain or in fact worse off than mere consulting clinics which the coupists of December 1983 led by current President Buhari, then as an Army General, cited as one of the reasons for overthrowing an elected government.
16. The pandemic has shown the failure of capitalism. More urgent than ever, we need to enthrone a workers and poor people’s government armed with Socialist policies. Once again, the SPN urge the NLC, TUC and ULC to begin the building of a mass workers political alternative on a socialist programme with which the working class people can begin to organise to overthrow the capitalist system.
Acting National Chairperson