The Federal Government will spend N2.3 trillion to reposition the nation’s economy for COVID-19 realities and beyond as part of the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP).
Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari, Mr. Femi Adesina, stated this in a presentation at the 2nd Annual Conference and General Meeting, organised by the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) Alumni Association, Nigeria Chapter on Saturday, August 29, 2020.
Adesina said the NESP comprises a N500 billion COVID-19 Crisis Intervention Fund meant to upgrade health facilities nationwide and finance a national Special Public Works Programme (NSPWP), N1.1 trillion structured lending from the Central Bank of Nigeria, N334 billion to be derived from external bilateral and multilateral sources and N302.9 billion from other undisclosed funding sources.
He noted that the 12-month “Transit” scheme under the NESP was developed as a successor plan to the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP). He also argued that when compared to other world economies, the Nigerian economy was not as badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic “contrary to doomsday projections that had earlier come from the West.”
The presidential spokesman, however, said that the nation’s economy contracted by about -6.10%, whereas USA, United Kingdom, France, Germany and South Africa recorded -32.9%, -20.4%, -13.8%, -10.1% and -20% dips, respectively, adding “of the major world economies, only China, where the disease ironically started from, grew by 3.2%.
According to him, the initiatives by the Federal Government should be complemented by states and local governments “as they are closest to the people.”
Professor Omoteso, University of Derby, United Kingdom
A keynote speaker, Professor Kamil Omoteso, Pro Vice-Chancellor, University of Derby, United Kingdom, who spoke on “Repositioning the Nigerian Economy in the COVID-19 Era and Beyond: The Role of Diasporans” said that the country needs to properly harness the potential of its diaspora populations.
He asserted that Nigerians in the Diaspora have crucial roles to play in supporting the country not only to emerge from the COVID-19 era but in “fulfilling its destiny as one of the leading economies in the near future.”
“In 2001, the world began talking about the BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China – as potential powerhouses of the world economy. The term was coined by economist Jim O’Neill. In 2014, he identified the “MINT” countries – Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey – as emerging economic giants.
“Nigeria witnessed a dramatic increase in remittances sent home by overseas Nigerians, going from USD $2.3 billion in 2004, $17.9 billion in 2007 to $25 billion in 2019, representing 7 % of GDP,” he said.
Omoteso observed that the expertise of Nigerians in the Diaspora would be needed, especially in the health sector, as there are over 5,000 Nigerian physicians, including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, health and social care workers, in North America.
He also identified engineering, law, finance and education sectors as areas where the expertise of foreign based Nigerians reputed to be “the most successful ethnic group in the US” would be required, as “they have been entrusted with highest responsibilities” in foreign lands.
The Professor said “I believe we have the ingredients to take Nigeria to the next level despite the pandemic and the Diasporans are ready, as always, to play their part.”
He, however called for jettisoning of “tribalism, nepotism, incompetence and greed” which he blamed for “enthroning and perpetuating corruption in the country.”
Another speaker and IIUM alumnus, Prof. Ibrahim Arowosaye, of the Faculty of Law, University of Ilorin, in his paper titled,
“Repositioning Nigerian Economy in Covid-19 Era and Beyond: Whither the Academics,” advised the federal and state governments to build high quality infrastructure to support industrial activities.
He also advocated provision of loans and credit to small scale businesses for the revitalisation of the economy and strengthening of monetary transmission through viable macroeconomic policy.
The don also harped on the need for diversification of the economy, ensuring fiscal responsibility in the management of oil resources, and increasing tax revenue through expansion of tax base and re-energising the local supply chain and production network.
Prof. Arowosaye tasked the nation’s academics to initiate specific medical research projects on the preventive, curative, and adaptive measures to control and eradicate the coronavirus pandemic; and provide technical input to strengthen capacity building for government agencies.
He called on research institutions and other stakeholders to carry out and use applied research that would directly address the downside of the Covid-19 pandemic, formulate policies and strategies in that respect and explore the various research grants especially by the CBN on Covid-19 pandemic.
In a communique at the end of the conference, the participants observed that “The phenomenon of the Covid-19 pandemic is a wake-up call to both the Nigerian people and government to be self-reliant economically and improve the healthcare system towards the provision of basic quality healthcare to Nigerians.”
They stressed the need to evaluate the country’s resources and capabilities, ensure governance effectiveness through controls, accountability, transparency, and risk management, and national re-orientation through the promotion of the right values, dispositions and attitudes among the citizenry.
About 500 Nigerians, mostly at postgraduate level, are alumni of the IIUM. The university was established by the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation in Malaysia in 1983. Many of the graduates are now captains of industry and leading lights in the academia in Nigeria and abroad.
Notable alumni that participated in the 2020 Conference/AGM include Norfadelizan Abdul Rahman, Managing Director, TAJBank; Lamin Manjang, CEO of Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria & Cluster CEO, West Africa; Associate Prof. Dr. Nuhu Jinadu, Independent Electoral Commissioner for Lagos State; and Associate Prof. Nosiru Olajide Onibon, Provost, MOCPED, Epe, Lagos.
Others are Prof. AbdulKabir Hussain Solihu, Dean of Arts and Social Sciences, Kwara State University; Associate Prof. Dr. Ganiyyat Adejoke Adesina-Uthman, Dean of Social Sciences, National Open University of Nigeria, Abuja; Dr. Aliyu Dahiru, Deputy Director, International Institute of Islamic Banking and Finance, Bayero University, Kano; Associate Prof. Dr. Rashida Funke Olanrewaju, Faculty of Engineering, IIUM, Malaysia.
A major highlight of the AGM was the handing over of leadership by the former President, Prof. Abdullatif Adeyemo to a new national executive board comprising: Dr. Adam Abba Idris (President), Prof. Bashir A. Omipidan (Vice President), Dr. Aliyu Dahiru (General Secretary), Dr. Bilyamin Ajayi (Organising Secretary), Dr. Musa Alongbija (Public Relation Officer), Dr. Aishatu Abubakar Kumo (Treasurer) and Prof. Abdul Lateef Kayode Adeyemo (Ex-officio).
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