Nearly 40 million Nigerians could be unemployed by the end of 2020, Osinbajo tells Buhari
Osinbajo said more Nigerians are also projected to fall into extreme poverty due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
The VP said the projection was done by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) when he delivered the Economic Sustainability Plan entitled 'Bouncing Back: The Nigerian Economic Sustainability Plan' to President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa on Thursday, June 11, 2020.
The Economic Sustainability Committee (ESC), chaired by Osinbajo, was formed by President Buhari with a mandate to figure out a way for the nation to survive the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
The spread of the disease across the nation since it was first detected in Ogun in late February disrupted social and economic activites that are only just resuming.
During his Thursday address, Osinbajo said mandatory 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.
He said projections done by the NBS, on behalf of ESC, also showed a severe downturn in Nigeria's oil earnings, and a projection that GDP may fall to between minus 4.40% and minus 8.91%.
With Nigeria already the poverty capital of the world, Osinbajo said millions more are projected to fall into extreme poverty before the pandemic ends; with unemployment projected to rise to 33.6% or about 39.4 million people.
The vice president said the committee's major resolutions are hinged on the country's resolve to produce locally what it consumes.
He said, "In other words, to create millions of new jobs, we need to focus on encouraging local production, local services, local innovation, and emphasize the use of local materials.
"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."
The committee's recommendations include a mass agricultural programme; extensive public works and road construction programme; mass housing programme to deliver up to 300,000 homes annually; and the installation of solar home system targeting five million households and serving 25 million individual Nigerians who are currently not connected to the National Grid.
The ESC also recommended support for local production and manufacturing; the provision of ample support for the informal sector through low interest loans and by easing procedures for registration, licensing, obtaining permits, etc; support for MSMEs; facilitation of broadband connectivity across the country, and creation of a wide variety of technology and ICT jobs; and the expansion of the Social Investment Programme.
Osinbajo stressed to the president that it is important that the Economic Sustainability Plan is faithfully implemented to serve Nigerians.
"We are confident that if the proposals are taken as a whole and implemented conscientiously, Nigeria will avert the worst of the impending economic headwinds, and covert this crisis to a victory for the Nigerian economy," he said.
He proposed that ministers be responsible for supervising the implementation of plans situated in their respective ministries, and also for ensuring synergy between all relevant stakeholders across the public and private sectors.
The ESC, he said, should remain to oversee plan implementation, ensure inter-ministerial co-ordination, and report regularly to the president
Expenditure will be monitored through the National Monitoring and Evaluation framework, and the Budget Office of the Federation.
The committee is made up of 15 ministers, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Group Managing Director of NNPC; and the Permanent Secretary in the Cabinet Office.
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