The Economic Sustainability Committee has warned that about 39.4 million Nigerians may lose their jobs by the end of 2020.
This is coming as the revenue share to the three tiers of government from the Federation Account dropped by over N185bn
The committee, set up by President Muhammadu Buhari on March 30 to help the country mitigate the impact of the pandemic and chaired by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, presented its report and plan to Buhari at the Presidential Villa on Thursday.
According to the report, this is a direct consequence of the impact of the raging COVID-19 pandemic on the economy, particularly the crash in the price of crude oil to under $30 per barrel.
The mandatory lockdowns imposed on the country by the Federal Government also had “severe negative impact on farms and factories, as well as on trade, transport and tourism.”
The committee noted that besides the drop in funds available to the three tiers of government to run services, and imminent rise in unemployment, there were other dangers if nothing was done urgently.
It said, “That millions more will fall extreme poverty, before the pandemic ends.
“That Gross Domestic Product may fall to between minus 4.40 per cent and minus 8.91 per cent, depending on the length of the lockdown period and strength of our economic response.”
To avoid the looming dangers, Osinbajo said the committee, after consulting widely with key stakeholders, decided on a strategy that Nigeria must begin to “produce what we eat and consume what we produce.”
The VP gave details, “In other words, to create millions of new jobs, we need to focus on encouraging local production, local services, local innovation, and emphasise 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. Such will include a mass agricultural programme, which is expected to bring between 20,000 and 100,000 hectares of new farmland under cultivation in every state of the federation and create millions of direct and indirect job opportunities.
“Extensive public works and road construction programme focusing on both major and rural roads and using locally available materials like limestone, cement and granite.
“Mass housing programme to deliver up to 300,000 homes annually, engaging young professionals and artisans who form themselves into small and medium scale businesses within the construction industry, using indigenous labour and materials.
“Installation of Solar Home System, targetting five million households, serving about 25 million individual Nigerians who are currently not connected to the National Grid.”
Osinbajo said other aspects of the plan included “support for local production and manufacturing of all that is possible, including tech apps, software, shoes, garments, steel fabrication, ceramics and furniture, with the required capital and essential machinery.
“The provision of ample support for the informal sector through low interest loans and by easing procedures for registration, licensing, obtaining permits, etc.”
He told the President that for the plan to succeed, each minister would be responsible for supervising the implementation of the programmes placed under agencies in their ministries.
“The key to the success of this plan is undoubtedly ‘implementation’. Making sure that we execute the plan faithfully and working in collaboration. We have therefore recommended that each minister will be responsible for supervising the implementation of plans situated in their respective ministries.
“Ministers will also be responsible for ensuring synergy between all relevant stakeholders across the public and private sectors. The Economic Sustainability Committee, which is inter-ministerial in nature, should only then remain to oversee plan implementation, ensure inter-ministerial co-ordination, and report regularly to the President, while expenditure is monitored through the National M&E framework and the Budget Office of the Federation.”