By: Magnus Ful
In a bid to bounce back from a dwindling economy caused by COVID-19, Nigeria has resorted to a more Agriculture-rooted economic plan.
In this light, Nigerian President Mohamadou Buhari has put in place the Economic sustainability Committee (ESC) with a mission to propose a feasible economic reawakening plan largely based on sustainable agriculture and the digital economy.
Agriculture according to this proposal is a potential area that can create thousands of Job openings for both idle Nigerians caused by the pandemic and otherwise.
Concretely, the ESC is to 1. Develop a clear Economic Sustainability Plan in response to challenges posed by the COVID-19 Pandemic; 2. Identify fiscal measures for enhancing distributable oil and gas revenue, increasing non-oil revenues and reducing non- essential spending, towards securing sufficient resources to fund the plan; 3. Propose monetary policy measures in support of the Plan; 4. Provide a Fiscal/Monetary Stimulus Package, including support to private businesses (with emphasis on strategic sectors most affected by the pandemic) and vulnerable segments of the population; 5. Articulate specific measures to support the States and Federal Capital Territory (FCT), 6. Propose a clear-cut strategy to keep existing jobs and create opportunities for new ones; and, 7. Identify measures that may require legislative support to deliver the Plan.
To operate successfully, the ESC has consulted the Federal Economic Committee members, Agency CEOs, the Presidential Economic Advisory Council, and the National Assembly to discourse implementation strategies of a plan that strongly relies on state governors for its success especially in the area of Agriculture.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), faced with the present situation, even if Nigerian oil prices average at $30 per barrel in 2020, a stimulus package of over N2.3 trillion will still be needed to have an economic decline lower at minus 0.59%.
However, a stimulus package of N2.3 trillion has been adopted by the committee, to supplement low incomes in these hard times, and the need for monetary stability. With this scenario, they hope for better days ahead; though uncertain on how shallow or deep the recession would be.
Funding the plan is one of the most important aspects looked at by the ESC. In this regard, agriculture is thought as to be the economic activity to beat the triple problems of very low foreign exchange, huge unemployment and negative growth. Therefore, Nigerians according to the Economic Sustainability Plan will produce what they eat and eat what they produce in other to reduce foreign dependency.
Other signature programmes include mass social housing, using local materials, installing solar power in 5 million homes, and providing assistance to daily-paid and self-employed workers – petty traders, artisans like bricklayers, vulcanisers, and electricians as well as commercial drivers and barrow-pushers.
The plan is based on three main pillars which are: “Real sector measures” which encompasses the creation of jobs across the fields of agriculture and agro- processing, food security, housing construction, renewable energy, infrastructure, manufacturing and the digital economy; “Fiscal and Monetary Measures”, which outlines steps that will be taken to maximize government revenue, optimize expenditure and preserve a regime of carefulness with an emphasis on achieving value for money; and “Implementation” according to which each Minister will be responsible for supervising the implementation of plans situated in their Ministry through a ministerial implementation Committee chaired by the Minister to avoid unsuccessful service delivery.
If Nigeria’s Economic Sustainability plan works out correctly, it will serve as a moral boaster for Africa which has for decades accepted the position of producer of the fluctuating-price-raw- materials. Therefore, the seemingly feasible sustainability plan comes with a reiteration of the transformation to finished and semi-finished products idea, and proposals for maintaining monetary stability that can trigger beautiful days ahead for the continent.