Tag Archives: #covid19

Reflection On The Economy For A Post COVID19 Nigeria

The Nigerian economy has grossly underperformed courtesy of the COVID19 pandemic and the slump in crude oil price and demand. There are contradiction, uncertainties, evidence and eminence of economic recession hovering over us.

A look at her enormous resource endowment showed that Nigeria is the 6th largest gas reserves and the 8th largest crude oil reserves in the world. It is endowed in commercial quantities with about 37 solid mineral types and has a population of over 200 million people. Yet economic performance has been rather weak and does not reflect these endowments, even before the advent of COVID19 and the current shock on global crude oil price. Compared her with the emerging Asian countries, notably, Thailand, Malaysia, China, India and Indonesia that were far behind Nigeria in terms of GDP per capita in 1970, these countries have transformed their economies and are not only miles ahead of Nigeria, but are also major players on the global economic arena.

Successive governments in Nigeria have since independence in 1960, pursued the goal of structural changes without much success. The growth dynamics have been propelled by the existence and exploitation of natural resources and primary products. Initially, the agricultural sector, driven by the demand for food and cash crops production was at the centre of the growth process, contributing 54.7 per cent to the GDP during the 1960s.

However, the second decade of independence saw the emergence of the oil industry as the main driver of growth. Since then, the economy has mainly gyrated with the boom burst cycles of the oil industry.

With a National budget (government income and expenditure) outlay that is dependent on oil revenues has more or less dictated the pace of economic growth and development.

Looking back, it is clear that the economy has not actually performed to its full potential particularly in the face of its rising population. In general, economic growth and population growth rates are very close that the margin cannot induce the required structural transformation and economic diversification.

Furthermore, Nigeria’s poor economic performance, particularly in the last Sixty years, is better illustrated when compared with China. For instance in the 1970s, while Nigeria had a GDP per capita of US$233.35 and was ranked 88th in the world, China was ranked 114th with a GDP per capita of US$111.82. Today, China is almost occupying an enviable number one position as productive, performing and developed economy in the world.

The major factors accounting for the relative decline of the Nigeria’s economic fortunes are easily identifiable as political instability, lack of focused and visionary leadership, economic mismanagement and corruption.

Prolonged period of military rule for example stifled economic and social progress, particularly in the three decades of 1970s to 1990s. During these years, resources were plundered, social values were debased, and unemployment rose astronomically with concomitant increase in crime rate.

Living standards fell so low, to the extent that some of the best brains with the requisite skills to drive the developmental process left in droves to other nations, and are now making substantial contributions to the economic success of their host countries.

However, since 1999, the country returned to the path of civil democratic governance and has sustained uninterrupted democratic rule for a period of 22 years. This in itself is a great achievement and gives reason for hope in a country that has was burdened with almost three decades of military rule and dictatorship. It has provided an opportunity to arrest the decline of the past and provide the launch pad for the take-off into an era of sustainable and all-round economic development.

However, in this regards also the successive civilian administrations since 1999 have committed to tackling the daunting challenges but with little and abysmal results to show. What we have is economic growth risen substantially, with annual average of 7.4 per cent, but the growth has not been inclusive, broad-based, jobless growth and devoid of transformational development.

The implication of this trend is that economic growth in Nigeria has not resulted in the desired structural changes that would make manufacturing industry the engine of growth, create employment, promote technological development and take millions out-off poverty. Available data has put the national poverty level at 74.4 per cent. Similarly, there has been rising unemployment with the current level put at 30.7 per cent by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS, 2020).Furthermore, the country lags behind her peers in most human development indicators.

What must be done for a post COVID19 Nigeria economy stability? An understanding of Nigeria’s economic aspirations today has remained that of altering the structure of production and consumption patterns, diversifying the economic base and reducing dependence on oil. Secondly, the government must aim of putting the economy on a part of sustainable, all-inclusive and non-inflationary growth with the 2.3 trillion stimulus package in the kitting and avoiding the wastage of that is critical.

Thirdly, a policy link through research and development is a boost to the manufacturing sector is the key to a revamp and industrialize economy (industrial sector comprises the manufacturing, mining, agriculture and electricity generation, oil and gas), implication of this is that while rapid growth in output, as measured by the real Gross Domestic Product (GDP), is important, the transformation of the various sectors (education, entertainment, media, banking and finance) of the economy are even more vital with the manufacturing leading the way.

As well as manufacturing sub-sector that is made up of large, medium and small enterprises, as well as cottage and hand-craft unit. This is consistent with the growth aspirations of most developing countries, as the structure of the economy is expected to change as growth progresses.

By: Adefolarin A. Olamilekan,
Political Economist and Development Researcher.
Email:adefolarin77@gmail.com, 08073814436-Abuja.

Link For Survival Funds Registration – Daily Watch Press

Features:
Payroll Support: Support 500,000 vulnerable MSMEs in meeting payroll obligations of between N30,000 to N50,000 per employee over 3 months.
Formalisation Support: provide free CAC Business Name registration for 250,000 new businesses.
General Grant: Support the survival of 100,000 businesses most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic with N50,000 each.
Artisan/Transport Support: provide 333,000 artisans and transport business operators with a N30,000 operations grant to reduce the effects of income loss.
Guaranteed Offtake Scheme: Bulk purchase of products from 100,000 MSMEs to protect jobs and livelihood.

MSME SURVIVAL FUND
The MSME Survival Fund is a conditional grant to support vulnerable micro and small enterprises in meeting their payroll obligations and safeguard Jobs in the MSMEs sector. The scheme is estimated to save not less than 1.3million jobs across the country and specifically impact on over 35,000 individuals per state.

Duration: The scheme will be implemented over an initial period of three months in order to provide immediate relief from the economic impact of the pandemic.
Target Beneficiaries: The scheme targets two categories of beneficiaries namely; employees of MSMEs and Self-employed individuals, both schemes have made provision for a 45% female business participation and special needs participation of 5%.

Requirements
A. Employees’ company Must be registered in Nigeria under the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC
B. Must have BVN by company CEO
C. Must have a staff strength of no less than 3 persons
D. Must be owned by a Nigerian

Self-employed Individuals in the following categories
A. Service providers in the transportation sector, le. Bus drivers, Taxi drivers, Ride share drivers. (Uber, Bolt Taxify etc) and Mechanics
B. Artisans, Electricians Plumbers etc.

READ: Detailed List of CBN Loans and Fund Interventions For SME Businesses and Agriculture – Plus Application Guidelines

GUARANTEED OFF-TAKE STIMULUS SCHEME
This scheme will protect and sustain the income of vulnerable Micro and Small Enterprises from the economic disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic through the implementation of various initiatives aimed at boosting the production capacities of the small businesses as well as provision of grants.
The main objective of this particular scheme is to boost production capabilities of small businesses with the view to ensuring that they remain in business

Duration: The duration of implementation will be same as the payroll support Target Beneficiaries: Micro and Small businesses registered in Nigeria.

Registration for Payroll Support Begins on 21st September 2020
visit www.survivalfund.ng for registration details

President Buhari Warns CBN Not To Give Foreign Exchange To Food And Fertilizer Importers

President Muhammadu Buhari has warn the Central Bank of Nigeria from giving any foreign exchange to importers of food or fertilizer into Nigeria.

The statement which was issued by Malam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity reads:

“As the Federal Government rolls out the Economic Sustainability Plan and sets goal for National Food Security, President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday ordered the Central Bank of Nigeria ”not to issue a kobo” of the country’s reserves for the importation of food items and fertilizer.

At a meeting of the National Food Security Council at the State House, Abuja, President Buhari restated his earlier verbal directive to the apex bank, saying he will pass it down in writing that ”nobody importing food should be given money.”

Emphasizing the need to boost local agriculture, the President said:

”From only three operating in the country, we have 33 fertilizer blending plants now working. We will not pay a kobo of our foreign reserves to import fertilizer. We will empower local producers.”

Furthermore, President Buhari also directed that blenders of fertilizer should convey products directly to State governments so as to skip the cartel of transporters undermining the efforts to successfully deliver the products to users at reasonable costs.

The President advised private businesses bent on food importation to source their foreign exchange independently, saying ”use your money to compete with our farmers”, instead of using foreign reserves to bring in compromised food items to divest the efforts of our farmers.

”We have a lot of able-bodied young people willing to work and agriculture is the answer. We have a lot to do to support our farmers,” President Buhari said.

The meeting, chaired by the President with other key members of the Council in attendance, was briefed on the food security situation prevailing in the country.

Notably, the Vice Chairman of the council and Governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu, the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari and a Governor from each of the six geo-political zones – Jigawa, Plateau, Taraba, Ebonyi, Lagos and Kebbi, made presentations.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr Zainab Ahmed, outlined measures introduced by the administration to tackle the unprecedented challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic on the nation as contained in the Nigerian Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP).

Among others, the Minister highlighted that the government will facilitate the cultivation of 20,000 to 100,000 hectares of new farmland in every State and support off-take of agro-processing to create millions of direct and indirect job opportunities.

She also listed the creation of 774,000 direct jobs for a minimum of 1,000 young Nigerians in each local government, the construction of 300,000 homes every year to give a boost to jobs through the construction industry, as well as the connection of 25 million new users of electricity with the installation of Solar Home System (SHS) targeting 5 million households.”

The Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu further states that:

“Dr Ahmed also briefed on the joint investment with the World Bank to provide intervention fund to States to improve health infrastructure.

She said to ease existing financial hardships among the people, the government is also coming up with low-interest loans for mechanics, tailors, artisans, petty traders and other informal business operators.

The Minister added that the Federal Government will equally provide support to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to help them keep their employees and boost local manufacturing.

Dr Ahmed explained that from the recently approved N2.3 trillion stimulus recommended by the NESP, there will be expansion of broadband connectivity to boost job opportunities in the digital economy, a planned expansion of the National Social Investment Programmes including increase in the number of beneficiaries such as the cash transfer beneficiaries, N-Power Volunteers, the Market Moni and Trader Moni schemes.”

“In his presentation, the Minister of Agriculture, Alhaji Sabo Nanono told the Council that the nation expects a bumper harvest of food items despite floods in the north and drought in the south.

He quoted the latest market surveys to show that the recent hike in the price of commodities is being reversed.

On his part, Mr Boss Mustapha, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, reported the negative impact of the pandemic on the lives and livelihood of citizens, while the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col Hameed Ali (Rtd) expressed the hope of an early reopening of the partially closed borders given the progress made with neighbouring States in joint border patrols – one of the key conditions by Nigeria for reopening of the borders.” He concluded.

President Buhari Attends ECOWAS Summit In Niger Republic; COVID-19, Economy, Security And Democracy Top Agenda – Presidency

President Muhammadu Buhari, Federal Republic of Nigeria.

President Muhammadu Buhari will depart Abuja Monday for Niamey, Niger Republic to participate in the Fifty-Seventh Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government.
The one-day summit will deliberate on the Special Report on COVID-19 to be presented by President Buhari who was appointed the ECOWAS Champion on the Fight against COVID-19 during the Extraordinary Virtual Summit of ECOWAS on April 23, 2020.
As a Champion, the Nigerian leader was expected to coordinate the sub-regional response against the pandemic. In furtherance of that objective, under the supervision of the Champion, Nigerian Ministers of Health, Aviation and Finance were appointed Chairpersons of the Ministerial Coordination Committees on Health; Transport, Logistics and Trade; and Finance respectively.
The Summit will also receive a Special Report on the ECOWAS Single Currency Programme to be presented by President Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone and Chair of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ), and President Alassane Ouattara, who is Chair of the West African Economic Monetary Union (WAEMU/UEMOA).
The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean Claude Kassi Brou will present to the West African leaders, the 2020 Interim Report on activities of the sub-regional body including ECOWAS Vision 2050.
The alarming rise in incidents of terrorism, insurgency, armed banditry and piracy will also come under focus, while the disruption of the democratic process by the military in Mali, will receive further attention.
Similarly, in Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea and Niger where parliamentary and presidential elections are scheduled for this year, the imperative to strengthen democracy in the sub-region by respecting constitutional provisions, rule of law and outcomes of free and fair polls, will be emphasised.
President Buhari, who will be accompanied to the Summit by ministers and other top government officials, will return to Abuja after the meeting.

The statement was made available yesterday by Malam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity.

CBN And Naira Devaluation: Between Markets Forces And Harmonization Pundits – Adefolarin

It is no longer news that the pandemic Covid19 effect is beyond health crises. The global economy is once again confronted with another crisis. Like the 2008/2009 economic meltdown, that almost eroded the world economic system, the pandemic is also threatening to bellowed efforts earlier made to protect the global economic.

Nigeria, like many other countries, needed to braze up for the challenges. Currently, the entire word economic system, predicated on capitalism is struggling to avert another economic crisis and global financial turmoil similar to that of 2008.

What we are seeing this day’s is a multitude of different approaches to withstand economic crunch, living government around the world coming to terms with the unprecedented impact of the pandemic on economic conditions that have beset their nation. Regulators have been challenged, reforms is expected and options to explored, as well as austerity measures are introduces by government to create more effective framework in which citizens are taken care of and to also gain trust and confidence in each country’s economy. For instance, in Nigeria the naira had come under intense pressure in recent months during the coronavirus pandemic and the undercurrent slump in global oil prices.

Nigeria as OPEC member relies on crude oil sales for 90 percent of its foreign exchange earnings and 70 percent of government revenue, making it particularly vulnerable to global shocks.

The Central Bank of Nigeria has made moves to strengthen the naira currency to boost domestic manufacturing and lift the economy out of what could spell into recession. The Central Bank has ‘technically devalued’ the naira to exchange to the dollar at N380.The apex bank took this decision after all interventions in the market, such as imposing sanctions on errant operators and use of moral suasion to curb illegal forex operations did not sustain the exchange rate of N360 failed.

But market forces analysts has argued that the measures do not go far enough and foreign investment would only return to Africa’s most populous nation once the market determines the currency’s true value. The naira has lost value against the US dollar, as Nigeria saw revenues from international oil sales dwindle because of the worldwide slump in crude prices. Price shock on primary commodities and stalled investment has also led to a shortage of foreign currency, making it harder for local businesses to source enough dollars to pay for imported raw materials and machinery. It has also caused a yawning gulf between the official rate and that on the illegal but tolerated, black market. Before then, the CBN had maintained the exchange rate at about N360 for more than three years.

The Breaking news of the Central Bank of Nigeria officially devaluation of naira to exchange to the dollar at N381/$ broke on the Importer & Exporter window. The data obtained on FMDQ OTC Securities Exchange on the CBN official website, showed a 5.54% rate at the Secondary Market Intervention Sales (SMIS) – a window where importers access foreign currencies – from N360/$1 to N380/$1 with an instruction to bidders to comply accordingly. While, economy watcher, especially those in the school of thought and supporter of harmonization of multiple-exchange rate regime, believe the apex bank was moving towards ending the multiple-rate regime cycle.

On the other hand, those in favour of market forces determinant, view the latest adjustment has unclear and that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) bowed to pressure. We may have state here that the country’s fiscal state faces tougher times as the monetary policies as not fare well either. To this end adjustment of the exchange rate at the busiest window is coming three months after the local currency was similarly devalued by 24.6 per cent, a decision that has worsened the inflationary pressure and interest rate. The naira traded at N385 on the official market and N455/$1 at the parallel market and this not static.

The harmonization, however, is a subject of debate among famous and infamous market operators, as well as and leading economists in all ramification made up the market forces determinant supporters and the harmonization pundits. For instance, the market forces determinist have raised the alarm that it’s “implementation would fuel speculation and worsen the fortune of the naira”. But the harmonization pundits counter this by asserting that “rate unification” would provide the “level playing field” required for inclusive growth. They accused the market forces determinist of round tripling “the market has always asked for the elimination of parallel and discriminatory prices”. They give kudos to the CBN for methodically pursuing “streamlined market and escape the usual blame and opprobrium, of market forces determinant that’s long believe in perfect market should be checkmate”.

Furthermore, the harmonization pundits strongly “ hold high the CBN action has to safe guard the weaker and less subsidized naira for the immediate and near future, a reality which supports the general weakness of the economy”, as in the face of several buffers such as COVID-19 and general economic slowdown.

It also hinge on the indication of CBN recent move to eliminate multiple rate regime as “a move will give the naira some stability in the immediate term. But warn that the CBN should be wary of the activity of currency speculators who are the foot soldiers of market forces determinants.

In contrary to the harmonization pundit’s argument, the market forces determinist said rate “unification and devaluation are rooted in the corrupt practices and market manipulation that have brought the naira to its knees”. They are of the view, that what is needed right now is detailed “structural audit of the management of the market, and this is more important than rate harmonization”.

Accordingly, the naira is challenged by external/moral factors than it is by market forces. “The problems of the naira are not market triggered; they are manipulated” The market forces ask the critical questions: “Where is the pressure on the naira coming from? Who is buying up the dollars? Who has what? What are the sources of the money individuals hold? How legitimate are the sources? What is responsible for the high buyback in the few months when the economy has been on hold? They queried the CBN action as not convincing enough as measures to manage the challenges unless we clean up the books. “They also advised that the way out is to “conduct a census on both local and foreign currencies.

There is a need for physical audit of the currency in circulation. As this will helps you to know the distribution. Also, this will further help us to establish what the local currency is pursuing for dollars are genuine. If the currencies were coming from legitimate business activities, there would be no serious distortion as we have”. They added more, “we have also come to a stage when a lifestyle audit is necessary.

We should audit the lifestyle of individuals with a huge volume of currencies, to be sure of where the distortion is coming from. India, as large as its population is, conducts a currency census every seven years”.

Moreso to further their position against elimination of multiple rate regimes, the market forces in their usual characteristic have peg the current economy environment as “Precarious situation” and expressed concern about whether the policy was sustainable. They differ by asking “how far can the CBN go in making dollars readily available to industries and importers?” They call on the CBN to further “liberalise the FX market to allow for other inflows of forex. They cap this with a warning that if the current supply source dries up, we may be back to zero,” To them the latest devaluation from a harmonization angle, would certainly trigger a higher inflation rate”. The new rate they puts between N400 and N410/$1, is below market expectation in their view.

Likewise the market forces determinist accused the CBN thus “a situation where the central bank is the sole supplier of forex is not healthy. For them “It is creating an air of uncertainty for investors. They blame the CBN for artificially funding the market to punish speculators and hoarders.”Of particular concern was the use of foreign reserves to shore up the naira” that is their lamentation.

They went at length to accuse the CBN of using up in six weeks what we ought to use for six months. This in their opinion is not sustainable,” they urge the CBN “to move towards a market-driven”.

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has stated he does not want the market to determine the value of the naira and argued devaluation would “kill” the currency. Also there are concern over how the rate unification would address currency profiteering and black market dealing – the twin troubles dictating the historical woes of the naira since the implementation of the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) in the 1980s.

However, the CBN had said it was working with the fiscal authorities to properly ease the impact of the coronavirus and ensure a sound and stable financial system.

The Bank’s strategy must be dynamic, so that the naira does not spiral. There are fears that the continuous devaluation of the naira would worsen the living standards of Nigerians through a high rate of inflation and unbearable interest rates. So, what is driving the demand for foreign currencies? To buy what? In June 2015, the CBN prohibited 41 items, including tooth picks and luxury jets, from the official forex window. The apex bank argument has been to maintain the monetary policy to “rejuvenated domestic production”, providing “an opportunity to change the economy’s structure, resuscitate local manufacturing” and create jobs. Any move to strengthen the naira was “a positive development”.

Some manufacturers, especially the small-scale firms and those affected by the ban of the 41 items, source their dollars from the bureaus de change and the black market,” Since mid-February, 2020 the CBN has been pumping dollars into the market to strengthen the naira and bridge the gap between official and black market rates. Official data show some $2.5 billion have been sold to end users, causing the local currency and still rising and huge demand. Monetary policy in recent months has been aimed at encouraging local production of what has previously been imported at huge cost.
Financial analysts, industry operators and the International Monetary Fund, however, said the apex bank needed to go further and harmonise all of Nigeria’s forex market rates.

There is the boom and crisis sickness of the market forces that would not let it win the trusted of it opposition, and the harmonization rate is not a misplacement, however it suspicion on the part of market force supporter ready to hijack, muscles out and denial market to thrive the “invincible hand” derive from demand and supply phenomenon.

In a logical conclusion, both of them are product of neoliberal capitalist economy. One represents the currency opportunist speculator at the mercy of the Nigerian state institution with licence, the other is the miser manipulator of currency, looking out for loophole in apex bank monetary policy to maximize profit and gains.

By: Adefolarin A. Olamilekan
Political Economist and Development Researcher.
Email: adefolarin77@gmail.com, 08073814436-Abuja.

Covid-19: Gov. Zulum signs Borno’s revised budget slashed by N30 billion

Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum has signed a revised 2020 appropriation bill which was reduced by over 30 billion naira as response to economic realities caused by COVID-19 pandemic.

Zulum had in December 2019, presented a 2020 budget of N146,894,223,000 which was passed by the Borno state assembly. The Governor signed it in January 2020 with implementation began.

Between March and April 2020, a global health crisis caused by COVID-19 spread to Nigeria leading to closure and restricted operations of local and international airports, markets, government offices, schools and private businesses. The pandemic had drastically reduced international trade and Nigeria’s earnings which implied less federation account allocations to states.

It was in response to these, that Governor Zulum set up a committee to work towards increasing internally generated revenue and review the budget with focus on priorities.

The Governor on Monday in Maiduguri, signed into law, a revised budge of N108,862,348,000 which is N38,031, 885,000 less from the first budget he presented. There is now 36% reduction.

Governor Zulum in company of the speaker and other principal legislators, at the council chambers of the government house in Maiduguri, assured of effective implementation.

The Governor directed the SSG to liaise with the ministry of finance to ensure strict compliance to the budgetary provisions regarding Government’s expenditures.

The ministry of finance was also directed by the Governor to review their mid term expenditure framework in line with the revised budget.

“This administration is determined to ensure the effective implementation of the revised budget, budget is one of the important component of governance. Therefore, under no circumstances this administration will hesitate to implement this budget according to the manner it was passed by the legislature.” Zulum said.

President Buhari Wishes Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama speedy Recovery

The Presidency issued a statement yesterday through Malam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity.

The statement in which the President wishes Mr Geoffrey Onyeama speedy recovery, reads thus:

“President Muhammadu Buhari wishes Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, quick recovery as he goes into isolation after testing positive to Covid-19 on Sunday.

President Buhari described the minister as a strong pillar of his administration, commending him for tirelessly working to stem the spread of coronavirus in the country as a member of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, and ensuring safety of Nigerians abroad.

“The country is eternally grateful to Geoffrey Onyeama for his diligence in attracting international support to Nigeria to defeat the coronavirus pandemic and boost the economy. I wish him speedy recovery,” the President said.” He concluded.

COVID-19: Bauchi State Risk Communication Committee Conducts Mega Rally

A report from Bauchi State shows that as part of its renewed commitment towards sensitizing citizens of Bauchi state on all the protocols against infection with the novel coronovirus, the State Task Force on COVID-19 through its Risk Communication, a sub committee has on Sunday evening conducted a mega rally in Bauchi metropolis.

The Chairman of the Risk Communication Committee and State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Honorable Garba Dahiru led the rally alongside SSA Media to the state Governor, Comrade Muktar M. Gidado, State NUJ Chairman, Comrade Umar Saidu as well as other Chairmen of various unions.

Garba Dahiru said the committee is working assiduously to reduce the spread of the coronovirus (COVID-19) across the state.

According to him, the sensitisation rally is to enlighten the citizens on the protocols against infection with the coronovirus especially the use of hand sanitizers, wearing of face masks and maintaining social distancing at public gatherings.

Garba Dahiru also said the administration of Governor Bala Mohammed has provided the enabling environment for the total eradication of the virus in the state.

” I am highly delighted to address you today at the occasion of our mega rally in Bauchi metropolis, we organised this in order to tell the citizens that, COVID-19 is real and we must work together to curb its spread in our society.”

“This rally will afford us the opportunity to sensitize communities of Bauchi metropolis on the COVID-19 pandemic and its negative effect to society.”

” As you are aware, Bauchi State Government under the leadership of His Excellency, is working round the clock to eradicate the virus

As COVID-19 is yet to be over, the Chairman of the Risk Communication Committee insisted that virus is real and stressed the need for people to comply with government’s directives of tackling the disease.

Honorable Garba Dahiru therefore assured that, the committee with the support of the state government, will not relent in mitigating the scourge of COVID-19 in the state.

” I thank all the stakeholders for supporting us towards ensuring the success of this important rally.”

On his part, the Senior Special Assistant on Media to the State Governor, Comrade Muktar Gidado emphasized the need for people of the state to ensure total compliance with the protocols of NCDC against COVID-19 infection.

” As citizens, we should ensure adherence to the COVID-19 protocols, the virus is real and we must protect ourselves against infection.”

The mega rally witnessed large turn out with the participation of critical stakeholders.

We Have Put Together A Stimulus Package of N2.3 Trillion – Vice President

The Office of The Vice President Said We Have Put Together A Stimulus Package of N2.3 Trillion. In a statement the Vice President was quoted to have said: “How we are converting COVID-19 Pandemic to opportunity to reset the economy.

Laolu Akande, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Office of the Vice President, issued the statement yesterday, which reads:

In spite of the despair that came with the COVID-19 pandemic and its attendant consequences, Nigeria decided to seize the opportunity to reset the economy amidst worldwide economic challenges, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

Prof. Osinbajo stated this in Abuja on Tuesday at a Webinar organised by the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council, CWEIC, with its focus on Nigeria.

According to the Vice President, “it seemed the sun was beginning to shine quite brightly after the years of recession and its immediate aftermath. Then came COVID-19 possibly the worst economic crisis the world has seen. For us in Nigeria, it was a perfect storm for oil prices, Russia and Saudi Arabia choosing that very moment for a price war. Then the inevitable lockdowns resulting in closure of businesses, our huge informal economy all but crashed and Government revenues fell too by over 40%.

“But the silver linings were perhaps bolder in the dark clouds.

The President decided that we could seize the opportunity to reset our economy in a way that may have been impossible had there not been a worldwide economic crash.

“I was asked to chair an inter-ministerial team to develop our Economic Sustainability Plan. A plan which we hope will, in the next 12 months or so, avoid a deep and prolonged recession by supporting businesses and households, but perhaps more importantly, addressing long-term structural vulnerabilities

“Taking into account our economic size and fiscal limitations, we have put together a stimulus package of N2.3trillion, which is just over 1.5% of national income. If other factors like the price of oil and length of the COVID-19 pandemic do not worsen further, these interventions should ameliorate the situation with a mild recession expected of minus 0.59%.”

Other speakers at the international webinar include Lord Marland of Odstock, the Chairman of the CWEIC, Sir Lynton Crosby, Chief Executive Officer C|T Group and the Industry, Trade & Investment Minister, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo.

REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, GCON, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA AT THE COMMONWEALTH ENTERPRISE AND INVESTMENT COUNCIL FOCUS ON NIGERIA WEBINAR ON THE 14TH OF JULY, 2020

Protocols

Thank you for that kind introduction. I am pleased to be participating in this special session focused on Nigeria. There is never a good time for a pandemic, but there can be a terribly wrong time.

That’s how it seemed three months ago as COVID – 19 began to ravage. January 2020, oil prices approached $70 a barrel for the first time since the crash of 2015/2016 which saw prices crash to sub $30 a barrel, Q3 2019 growth was 2.55%, modest but clearly on the upward trajectory, 3% growth was well in sight.

Our Economic Recovery and Growth Plan was beginning to make sense. Work was on-going in major rail, road and bridge projects along the main national trade corridors. The Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) arrangements on our Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Train 7 which will unlock an additional 30% more LNG output had commenced.

It seemed the sun was beginning to shine quite brightly after the years of recession and its immediate aftermath. Then came COVID-19, possibly the worst economic crisis the world has seen. For us in Nigeria, it was a perfect storm for oil prices, Russia and Saudi Arabia choosing that very moment for a price war. Then the inevitable lockdowns resulting in closure of businesses, our huge informal economy all but crashed and Government revenues fell too by over 40%.

But the silver linings were perhaps bolder in the dark clouds. The President decided that we could seize the opportunity to reset our economy in a way that may have been impossible had there not been a worldwide economic crash.

I was asked to chair an inter-ministerial team to develop our Economic Sustainability Plan. A plan which we hope will in the next 12 months or so, avoid a deep and prolonged recession by supporting businesses and households, but perhaps more importantly, addressing long-term structural vulnerabilities.

Taking into account our economic size and fiscal limitations, we have put together a stimulus package of N2.3trillion, which is just over 1.5% of national income. If other factors like the price of oil and length of the COVID-19 pandemic do not worsen further, these interventions should ameliorate the situation with a mild recession expected of minus 0.59%.

We have taken the opportunity to remove petrol subsidies and to insist that power distribution companies must engage with customers to ensure that new tariffs are based only on improved power supply. We are talking of service reflective tariffs.

The Central Bank of Nigeria is also committing to moving to a unified exchange rate, to improve certainty in trade and investment. In addition to using fiscal and monetary measures to stimulate the economy, our main objectives are to retain and create jobs, to assist vulnerable people, support businesses and undertake infrastructural investments. I am happy to see from the research that jobs, retaining jobs and creating more opportunities tops Nigerians’ priorities when it comes to what they believe the COVID-19 response should be like.

Some key interventions include: Jobs for Food which is an agricultural programme aimed at expanding the acreage under cultivation across the country, to create, we hope, hundreds of thousands of jobs and we also intend to guarantee uptake processors, aggregators and to some extent, by government.

We also have a Jobs through Homes programme which is a programme to provide jobs and increase our national housing stock, at the same time by a massive social housing programme where we intend to engage young professionals and artisans who are involved at the moment, in small businesses, building and using local products such as cements, doors, tiles, windows and paint.

We also have a Solar Homes Systems Programme where we intend to engage private solar power companies who will be able to access cheap loans to provide modular solar-powered units to about 5 million households which will roughly translate to serve 25 million people in rural or under-served areas. At the moment, we have about 40million homes without power. So, we expect that this will be a major dent in that deficit.

The scale required means we will be encouraging suppliers to establish production facilities in the country. We expect to be able to attract solar companies to establish manufacturing and assembly plants in Nigeria.

Supporting small businesses is also a priority and I am sure the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment will talk more about it.

We are also looking at the Future of Jobs programme in technology taking into account the ‘new normalʼ, our creative and significant youth population and the need to prepare our economy to be an outsourcing hub, providing services across the whole gamut of possible technology engagements, including animation, software engineering and data analysis.

These are areas where we have invested considerably already and we intend to do a bit more and we hope that some of the efforts we put into the response will address these areas even more pointedly.

To be sure, improving health outcomes is very much part of the package. To meet the immediate challenge, we have dug deep to find resources to respond to the pandemic. We have more built isolation centres and laboratories, incentivizing medical personnel, buying test kits and personal protective equipment, as well as several other medical equipment.

We have increased the number of modular laboratories that can handle COVID-19 samples from 5 at the onset of the pandemic to 39 today.

The crisis has also revealed significantly, the vulnerability of our health sector. So, as part of the Economic Sustainability Plan, we are also looking at the universal health coverage, about improving the work we are doing in universal health insurance with a view to universal health coverage by a combination of public finance and mandatory social insurance.

While we are bullish on promoting local production, we remain committed to engaging with our traditional trading partners. This is in recognition of the potential contribution of trade to growth.

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is pertinent in this regard, but so certainly is also trade with our Commonwealth partners, including the United Kingdom. This was indeed evident from Nigeria’s participation in the UK-Africa Investment Forum held earlier this year. It is particularly noteworthy that intra-Commonwealth trade is projected to rise from an estimated $1trillion this year to $2.75trillion by 2030 and we intend to be a major part of this growth.

It is not news of course that the COVID-19 pandemic has distorted international trade with disruption of global value chains, export bans, and protectionist policies. On our part, Nigeria remains committed to the multilateral trade system but we will ensure that our economy is not subjected to unfair trade practices.

Ultimately, we see Nigeria as ‘Africa’s Gateway Economy’. As the continent’s most populous nation and its largest economy, we think that we can leverage our geographical location, which is right in the middle of far-flung Commonwealth countries, we are poised to catalyze intra-Commonwealth trade. Our investments in fast-growing sectors and infrastructure, power, rail, roads and several other areas especially technology where we think we can benefit from other Commonwealth countries.

Once again, I thank the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council for convening this important discussion especially now, when we certainly see a greater need for socio-economic engagements with our Commonwealth partners and we are set and ready to continue these engagements and we look forward to not just what this particular session will bring but to all our future cooperation.

Thank you very much indeed.

Pastor Oyedepo’s coronavirus Healing Claims Irresponsible, Misleading – Leo Igwe

Report from Daily Post described the claim by Pastor Oyedepo of having the cure to Coronavirus as both irresponsible and misleading .

Mr. Leo Igwe, founder of the Humanist Association of Nigeria (HAN) has ‘knocked’ Bishop David Oyedepo of the Living Faith Church (Winners Chapel), over his claim of healing some Coronavirus patients through prayer.

Mr. Oyedepo spoke on Sunday, where he said the above number had publicly testified of being healed from COVID-19. He spoke during his sermon at the church’s headquarters.

But Mr. Igwe believes that Oyedepo’s claim could do more harm than good by making people to throw caution to the wind and indulging in risky behaviors believing that their faith would heal them if they get infected by the dreaded disease.

“The claim is weighty, reckless, and irresponsible,” Igwe said in a statement he made available to DAILY POST on Wednesday.

According to him, the World Health Organisation, WHO, has maintained that there is no cure for the virus at the moment and has outlined preventive measures.

Igwe noted that the cleric’s healing claim goes contrary to the directives and positions of the WHO.

“His faith healing claim is capable of making people throw caution to the wind, indulge in risky behaviors while believing that their faith would heal them if they contract the virus,” he added.

“This faith healing claim by Oyedepo is a piece of misinformation because faith healing is superstition- not a science-based proposition.

“There is no evidence that anybody could be healed of coronavirus as Oyedepo. Unfortunately, this faith healing report from Winners’ church was not balanced and did not contain any perspective from the NCDC, or the health ministry, or a public health expert.

“This faith-healing claim has the potential of misleading the public, especially at a time of so much fear, panic, and uncertainty over the spread and cure of COVID-19.

“The lockdown has adversely affected the religious market. But the way to get the authorities to lift the ban on public gathering in churches is not to spread lies and misinformation about COVID-19 as Oyedepo has done.

“COVID-19 constitutes a public health challenge, and church leaders should be mindful of the claims that they make.”

Recall that Prophet T. B. Joshua of the Synagogue Church of All Nations, SCOAN, had recently declared readiness to virtually pray for COVID-19 patients in isolation centres in Nigeria and Africa.

In an announcement on Tuesday, Joshua called on government and medical authorities to “organize those who are in isolation” and “arrange how to connect them to us”.

The cleric noted that “the blessing of Jesus is for those who knock and ask”.

He told everyone that in whatever way they support to make the intercession happen, “we are a team; we are not doing more than you”.

Meanwhile, Lagos and other State governments have insisted that worship centers would remain closed.

This was part of measure to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the state. However, the Federal Government had ordered partial lockdown ease of worship centres across the country.