Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said that his principal, President Muhammadu Buhari is facing a challenge a president has confronted in the history of Nigeria.
Osinbajo was recently appointed by the president to chair the Economic Sustainability Committee. In his explanation of what the new team plans to achieve, the Vice President said the committee will communicate to the people the present situation.
Speaking at the inaugural meeting, Osinbajo declared that Nigeria can no longer assume to be where it used to be.
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“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.”
Buhari formed the team to design and respond to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the crashing of oil prices in the global market.
Oil prices, which is a critical driver of the Nigerian economy, have crashed from the budget benchmark of $57 per barrel to less than $20 in the past weeks amidst the other worsening implications of the pandemic with forecasts of impending recession on a global scale.
“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.
He further spoke on what would be done to salvage the situation in the country, pointing out that there is a need to do is something bold, radical that people can understand and buy into.
“We 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 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,” he said.
Those at the meeting include the Ministers of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Hajiya Zainab Ahmed; Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo; Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige; Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola; the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Farouq.
Others are Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Silva, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mele Kyari; the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele and the Permanent Secretary, Cabinet Office in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babatunde Lawal who is the secretary of the committee.