•As Oil Falls To
Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, on Thursday in Abuja said the country is in need of bold, radical and that the people can understand and buy into, as the economy develops away from oil.
Osinbajo lamented the crash in crude oil price from the 2020 budget benchmark of $57 per barrel to $16.87 a barrel on April 1, down from $22.61 the previous day, its lowest since it was introduced in 2005.
He spoke at the inaugural meeting of the Economic Sustainability Committee set up by President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday to design a national response to the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the crash in oil prices a critical driver of the Nigerian economy.
Calling for a rethink, According to a statement by Laolu Akande, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, Office of the Vice President, Osinbajo said Nigerians must be told the current situation of things, and why “we can no longer assume we are still where we used to be.
“We are faced with a challenge that no government in the history of Nigeria has ever faced. So, we have to redesign our economic planning and change our thinking,” he added.
The committee, he explained further, is to “amongst other things develop a clear economic sustainability plan from now till 2023, identify fiscal and monetary measures to enhance oil and non-oil revenues in order to fund the plan, develop a stimulus package and come up with other clear-cut measures to create more jobs while keeping existing ones.
“What Mr. President has asked us to do is to devise a strategy in order to be able to keep the economy going and also make provisions to ensure that we are able to retain jobs and indeed create more.
“We also need to develop the Nigerian economy in a way that we will even take advantage of the challenges of these times and convert those challenges to opportunities,” Prof. Osinbajo added.
For him, the committee comprising key ministers like Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed; Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola; as well the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari; Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, “must design a broad vision that takes into account how to implement a big plan inclusive of a focus on mass local productivity and mass employment.”
The big plan of government, he continued, “is to find a way for us to be able to do mass housing, increase agricultural production, ensure massive local productivity by among several other options, increasing support to MSMEs, and majorly improve avenues to put more cash in the hands of our people and also make them productive.”
Other members of the committee at the meeting were the Ministers of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo; Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige; Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Farouq; and Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva.
The Permanent Secretary, Cabinet Office in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babatunde Lawal is the secretary of the committee.
•As Oil Falls To