By Richard Thomas, Ibadan
Over three million people have been said would be out of job as a result of the economic damage caused by COVID-19 pandemic if the government fails to sincerely address some of the challenges that could lead to the development.
The chairman and Team Leader, U Fit Fly travel company in Ibadan, Ajibola Ogunkeyede made the point while answering questions from journalists on the negative impact of COVID-19 on the nation’s economy.
Ogunkeyede, who expressed deep concern on the imminent collapse of small and medium-scale companies, said some of them may collapse if the government fails to give them financial support to cushion the damage already caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to him, the pandemic has affected the country in a bigger way than we expected, adding that the tourism sector has lost over N300billion since the problem started.
He said, “Over three million people will be out of a job because the world obviously has changed.
“We now see low patronage in the tourism sector because people who move out of the country for tourism and other purpose are now looking for other means.”
Ogunkeyede, while lamenting that the tourism sector has not received any bailout from the government said the government has not tried so much to address the situation, adding that the first bail they gave was given to the pharmaceutical sector.
“Every company and sector is important, but in our country, other sectors like the tourism sector has been forgotten. There has not been a bailout for our sector over sometimes now.
“Up till now, what we heard was that the cold relief fund released by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has been spent by some of these senior citizens. The money did not get to any firm like ours.
“For instance, I have over 100 staff, and If I have such amount of money, about 15 to 20 per cent of the money will be used to take care of my workers while the remaining will be used to sustain the business.
“I applied for the money and I met all the requirements but we were told not to put hope on it. We were told that the money has been shared among some senior citizens.”
The travel agency boss said the leadership of the country has not done well in terms of the palliative measures to sustain the people, adding that many companies may begin to shut down due to lack of funds since there is no rescue fund from the government.
Ogunkeyede also berated some governors for not being sincere on the issue of support and palliatives for their people, saying the case is not the same in advance countries.
Speaking on his preventive measures for his staff, he said he has provided a nose mask, hand washing bow and sanitizer to ensure the safety of members of the company.
“We have done food palliatives for over five thousand people with the support of Chibuzor of OPM and very soon we are going to be sharing about 5000 face mask to transporters in our community to prevent themselves”.
He advised the government to set up a genuine and professional body that can restore the economy in order to move the nation forward.
Ogunkeyede while admonishing government to be sincere in its fight against COVID-19, warned that failure for the nation’s leadership to take the bull by the horn may spell doom for the country.
“Government should invest much more in agriculture as an alternative way of rescuing the economy of the country from imminent collapse.”