NIGERIA’S federal government plans to create up to 5m jobs as part of its ambitious post-coronavirus economic redevelopment programme aimed at diversifying the economy and reducing the country’s dependence on crude oil.
Given that about 90% of federal government revenue comes from the receipt of crude oil, Nigeria has been unable to fund her 2020 budget, forcing the government to approach the World Bank and International Monetary Fund for loans. To ameliorate the effects of the shutdown, the federal government set up an Economic Sustainability Committee (EAC) chaired by vice president Professor Yemi Osinbajo.
Professor Osinbajo’s resuscitation plan, called Bouncing Back: The Nigerian Economic Sustainability Plan, outlined a range of multi-sectoral remedies to take care of massive jobs creation through the agricultural and construction sectors, as well as lending support to the informal and small scale business sectors. It pointed out that the lockdowns and social distancing measures put in place to curb the spread of Covid-19 have had a severe negative impact on farms and factories, as well as on trade, transport and tourism.
Speaking over the weekend during the Virtual Presidential Policy Dialogue Session organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Professor Osinbajo said that the Buhari administration is focused on delivery in key areas like agriculture, housing and manufacturing. He added that his redevelopment plan would both boost farm output and spur agro-processing, which would both create jobs.
Professor Osinbajo said: “We are to create jobs and boost our national housing programme and we would be intentional in the support of manufacturers in using our local raw materials. We are seriously engaging the use of cement in building our roads, as it will be cheaper for us and more durable.
“We are targeting the electrification of 5m households with solar power and we are supporting SMEs, especially in the pharmaceuticals to enhance the production of personal protective equipment.”
LCCI president, Toki Mabogunje expressed worries over failure of the Nigerian Customs Service to adhere to the executive order which forbids Customs checkpoints around the ports and within given geographical delimitations in the country. She pointed out that the slow pace of reforms in the oil and gas sector was another cause for worry, adding that the part of the Petroleum Industry Bill that was passed was not signed by the president as it has affected the growth of the sector.
Mrs Mabogunje added: “Closure of the land borders has had enormous implications for cross border economic activities around the country. The indications are now that the closure is indefinite, so while we share the concern of government on issues of security and smuggling, we believe that the indefinite closure of land borders is not the solution to the problem.
“We are excited about the signing of the African Free Trade Agreement but we need to get ourselves ready for the pressure of competition inherent in the continental economic integration agenda. A number of commitments were made about the creation of an environment that would enable the private sector to be competition ready but not much has happened in this regard so far.
“We are aware of the efforts of government to fix our infrastructure, including roads and railways but funding has remained a major challenge. We would like to see a new funding model with much bigger focus on private sector capital within a public private partnership framework for infrastructural development in the country.”