…Directs measures for protection of the poor and the vulnerable should be in place
In spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has seriously threatened the economic life of Nigeria, just like most other countries of the world, President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday directed the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning to pay salaries, and for the country to use local inputs for critical infrastructures, henceforth.
Giving the directives at the briefing by the Special Presidential Committee on the review of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Nigerian economy, Mr. President said: “As a government, we are very mindful of the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, on the lives and livelihoods of Nigerians, and on the national economy. In that regard, I just received a briefing from the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, Minister of State for Petroleum, CBN Governor and GMD, NNPC.”
It would be recalled that President Buhari had set up the Special Committee last month to help plan its way through the rough path of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The President has also directed the ministry to ensure that critical infrastructure like roads, rails are protected, and as much as possible there should be the use of local inputs so that the country retains value within her economy. The President further directed that measures that protect the poor and the vulnerable should be in place.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, who heads the Special Presidential Committee to review the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on the economy, made the disclosure while fielding questions from State House Correspondents, in Abuja. She said the committee briefed the president on current happenings around the world due to COVID-19 and the impact on the nation’s economy.
On the directives given, Ahmed said: “Well, he has directed that we should make sure that salaries are paid, make sure that critical infrastructures like roads, rails are protected, and as much as possible use local inputs so that we retain value within our economy. And that we should also make sure that we take measures that protect the poor and the vulnerable.”
On the purpose of the meeting, she said, “This meeting was just to brief Mr. President as the situation we are in keeps evolving daily, and as the health crisis gradually expands, affecting states, and also the lockdown that has been ordered to help curtail expansion of the health crisis.
“The consequences of the lockdown are the additional slowing down of the economy and we are to consider the measures that we need to take to mitigate the negative consequences of the slow trade and businesses,” she said.
Another member of the committee, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, said since the economy is not in the best of shape due to COVID-19, and oil prices are collapsing every day, hence there is need for the President to be constantly briefed.
Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, said the economy is not looking as simple as everyone thought it would be.
He said: “The global economy, like we all know at this time, will naturally suffer growth problems and may even lead to recession globally. So, we are trying to see what we can do as a country to rescue our own situation, so we don’t go the direction many will go.
“It is not going to be easy, but we can only assure our people that we are on top of it, and that we will resolve it, and Nigerians will still be better for it.”
Other members of the committee are: Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Mr. Clement Agba, and the Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mela Kyari.