Nigeria’s Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo-led Committee on Economic Sustainability Plan warns that, if the government failed to take preemptive measures, about 39.4 million people might be unemployed by the end of 2020,
Extreme poverty is also at the door step of millions of Nigerians according to the committee. This is because the coronavirus pandemic worsens the economy and consequentially people’s lives.
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) slides to between minus 4.40 per cent and minus 8.91 per cent and the severity of the situation will depend on the length of the lockdown period and strength of the country’s economic response.
Presenting the report to President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday, the Osinbajo panel premised its position on the mandatory lockdowns and social distancing measures put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19 which has had negative impact on farms and factories, as well as on trade, transport and tourism.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) projections on behalf of the Economic Sustainability Committee revealed severe downturn in the nation’s oil earnings. With oil price at $30 a barrel, the country would still suffer a shortfall of about N185 billion every month, in the amount available for allocation to the three tiers of government.
Mr. President’s philosophy “produce what we eat and consume what we produce” is one of the measures that may save Nigeria.
The creation of millions of new jobs and encouragement local production, local services, local innovation, and emphasis on use of local materials are part of the panel’s recommendations.
Osinbajo said: “Nigeria and Nigerians can produce our food, build our houses and construct our roads, using local materials in all cases. If we must import, it must be to support local production. We have, therefore, recommended that we must carry out mass programmes that create jobs and utilise local materials.
Mass and aggressive agricultural programme is expected to bring between 20,000 and 100,000 hectares of new farmland under cultivation in every state of the federation and create millions of direct and indirect job opportunities, if it is pursued.
Also, extensive public works and road construction programme focusing on both major and rural roads and using locally available materials like limestone, cement and granite are the imperatives according to the committee’s report.
Other recommendations include and not limited to: initiation of a mass housing programme to deliver up to 300,000 homes annually, engaging young professionals and artisans who form themselves into small and medium scale businesses within the construction industry, plus using indigenous labour and materials.
The installation of solar home system, targeting five million households, and serving about 25 million individual Nigerians who are currently not connected to the national grid will also help.