Many states in Nigeria have taken drastic measures including total lockdowns and border closures in an attempt to contain the spread of COVID-19. Most of the country’s workforce, precisely 80 per cent fall under the informal sector and are daily earners. For Nigeria’s urban and extreme poor, social distancing is an arduous and impossible task to achieve. However, the presidency and state governments have kickstarted several rescue palliatives targeted at vulnerable citizens and businesses, whilst providing health workers at the frontline of the pandemic with the support they need.
One day we will have to reopen the economy and lift the shutdowns no matter how long. We’ll need to hold out until the outbreak shows signs of receding, or perhaps the economic suffering will prove intolerable both to those in charge and to other Nigerians irrespective of class and status. COVID-19 will disrupt several sectors and give rise to a new era of human development.
The Economic Sustainability Committee inaugurated by President Buhari and chaired by his deputy, Professor Yemi Osinbajo is working to calculate the magnitude of the shock and sharpening their tools to save the economy from collapse. This focus includes job protection, income security, food supplies, and the general welfare of the most vulnerable people among us.
The committee which is also set up to save banks, prevent fiscal ruin, and safeguard future generations is made up of Ministers of Finance, Budget and Planning; Industry, Trade and Investment; Labor and Employment; Minister of State Petroleum Resources; CBN Governor, NNPC Group Managing Director and Permanent Secretary of the cabinet secretariat as the committee secretary.
The group is working on a full Sustainability Report detailing fiscal and monetary measures that will enhance Nigeria’s oil and non-oil revenues, develop a stimulus package and other clear-cut measures to create more jobs while keeping existing ones.
They have met regularly since the beginning of April, mostly via teleconferencing in adherence to physical distancing guidelines.
On Monday, 20th of April, the Vice President and other members met with representatives of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to share and exchange recommendations that will plunge the country’s economy to new heights between now and 2023. The World Bank Group is acting quickly to step up support as countries respond to the crisis and manage a plethora of consequences including the risk of a global recession. The Bank Group expects to deploy up to $160 billion over the next 15 months to help countries protect the poor and vulnerable, support businesses, and bolster economic recovery.
It is great to see Osinbajo and his team work tirelessly to secure the future of Nigerians in a Post-Covid world through decisive, collective action and innovation. The committee says it is set to deliver the report to the President in the following week, it will contain robust and wide-ranging policies, strategies and visons necessary to sustain the economy and livelihood of Nigerians.