A labour leader, Mr Issa Aremu, on Tuesday, described the travel ban by the United Kingdom and other Western countries on Nigeria and some Southern African countries, as Afro-phobia.
Aremu, the Director General, Michael Imoudu National Institute of Labour Studies (MINILS), made the assertion in an interview with newsmen on the sidelines of the ongoing Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) 17th Harmattan School in Ilorin.
The theme of the harmattan school is “COVID-19 Pandemic and Challenges to the World of Work”.
Our correspondent reports that the travel ban was on the heels of a new coronavirus variant B.1.1.529 – Omicron, detected by researchers in South Africa.
Reacting to the ban, Aremu further described it as a forefront campaign against Africa, promoted by the western media.
“We demand that the rest of us should fully back the position of President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa.”
“Ramaphosa is at the forefront campaigning against Afro-phobia promoted by the western media in their response to the discovery of the new Omicron variant of COVID-19 in South Africa,” he said.
Aremu said that by shutting their borders against African countries, the West was acting true to type as that was exactly their response to AIDS and other health crises.
He said that they had tagged those health challenges as of African origin.
“We must however learn from this to devote more attention to being self-reliant.”
“Vaccine sovereignty by African countries should be a focus so that we do not remain at the mercies of the Western donors in the face of COVID- 19 and in future pandemics,” he said.
Aremu said the challenge now was for stakeholders to work more concertedly towards striking a balance between life and livelihood.
“In keeping with this, MINILS has provided a platform for staff to take vaccine within the premises as part of our recovery efforts from the pandemic.”
“We have also supported the holding of this school by providing access to a reputable healthcare consultancy to carry out COVID-19 tests and to provide basic tips on measures to mitigate the spread of the virus.”
“This kind of pragmatism is hereby recommended to the governments at all levels.”
“While we encourage intensifying campaigns for vaccination, workers yet to take the jabs should not be barred from working as this can only serve to worsen the already unpalatable unemployment level,” he said.