COVID-19 Economic Sustainability Plan: Opportunities and Prospects, By Bello Shehu Maude

AREWA AGENDA – Many Nigerians are aware of Economic Sustainability Committee formed as a result of Economic peril caused by Covid-19.

The Vice President Prof. Yemi Osibanjo’s Committee came with three pillars based plans ranging from Real Sector Measures, Fiscal and Monetary Measures and thirdly the Implementation.

The first pillar focus on the creation of jobs across the fields of agriculture and agro-processing, food security, housing construction, renewable energy, infrastructure, manufacturing and the digital economy.

In a mass agricultural programme, between 20,000 and 100,000 hectares of new farmland are expected to spring up and bring millions of job opportunities across the federation directly and indirectly.

While on the other hand, extensive public works, road construction and mass housing programme emphasised on the use of locally available materials like limestone, cement and granite to continue construction of Federal Highways are to take effect. Similarly, a significant number of workers can be engaged in the construction of rural roads using local materials to see the actualisation of the programme.

300,000 homes across the country will be built in 12months in the first instance targeting 100% local input for construction of 400 homes in each Local Government Areas engaging indigenous young professionals and artisans who form themselves into small and medium scale businesses within the construction industry.

In support of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, government is expected to invest massively in manufacturing items like personal protective equipment, face shields, face masks, hand sanitizers, shoecovers, soaps, etc. In this regard, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has implemented an 80% reduction of its product registration charges and total waiver of administrative charges for product license renewals. It is a welcome development which will make sure many common articles of everyday use are made in Nigeria to the acceptable standard.

Another provisision has been made in order to support unregistered Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises with CAC registration, this will pave way for individual companies to register and seek for contract officially from different organization as a legal entity.

In it’s strategy to maximize job opportunities in Technology, the committee intended to create jobs by training young Nigerians to take advantage of existing initiatives in the digital economy, including education, entertainment, e-commerce, financial services and software development, provide training in key digital skills in partnership with private sector, providers, including Google, Microsoft, IBM, Cisco etc. This will enhance the competence and capacity of Nigerian youth to participate in job intensive technology sectors.

In an effort to identify Nigerian citizens, the committee vow to provide Digital identification of every Nigerian, this will help improve the provision of cash transfers, and other benefits; and make our population to run on digitalised data based though we are yet to conduct another National Census since the year 2006. The lack of such identification and database was a key obstacle in giving support and palliatives during the lockdown

Prioritisation of primary health care, buildings to minimize the threat posed by infectious diseases and boosting local research and development efforts aimed at the production of medical and pharmaceutical resources in Health Sector cannot be overemphasized without the National Health Insurance Scheme to cover all citizens of the country irrespective of Economic well being of individuals working in public and private organizations and also the vulnerable that are not working in identified organization.

If the plan of ESC worked, hopefully, we will celebrate the victory of having access to health facilities via boosting the sector to the standard level.

Out-Of School Children were not left behind, a total eradication plan of illiteracy inline with provisision of literacy among the Children of the country is set to achieve it’s objective within 5years. A qualified graduates with required proficiency of the teaching professionals in critical subjects that underpin productivity, efficiency and innovation in a modern economy would be recruited to contribute their own quota to the development of our future generation in nurturing qualitative students that can compete with their international counterparts.

Practical steps will be taken to minimise disruption to learning, utilising technology as appropriate. Specifically, virtual learning will be implemented (either online or through broadcast), also there is a plan to establish National Institute of Technology in 6 geopolitical zones and FCT. to address the challenging situation of modern technology. The committee looks for the consideration of cancellation of camp activities of NYSC for a consecutive period of 24months, while the Corp members will be posted to their place of primary assignment for the purpose of decongesting the orientation camps as an alternative to observe a social distancing measure to fight the spread and somersault of Covid-19 in the next 2years.

All of these dividend cannot be achieved without manpower in Security Sector. For the smooth sailing of Economic Sustainability a state has to be in peace and tranquility for the agility of circulation of many monetary programme tend to support by the plans

Training programmes designed for Agro Rangers and NSCDC to enhance the effectiveness in protecting the population and in maintenance of peace and order is not enough to cater the insurgent situation Nigeria is facing. 10,000 Police recruitment per year is not enough to replace the the vacuum of retired officers. Ministry of Police Affairs and Ministry of Defense ought to be part of the plan to enhance the massive recruitment of both military and police in order to increase the manpower in our security system and reduce the level of crimes in our dear country. Hence adding value to the status of creating meaningful and patriotic jobs to the teeming youth whom have the dream of protecting the territorial integrity and solving internal disorder across Nigeria.

All these sequence of programmes lies upon smooth implementation by inter ministerial groups of Economic Sustainability Committee and the National Economic Council which are chaired by the Vice President and report back to the President.

The saviour of Nigerian economy and shining star of Nigerian Youths Professor Yemi Osibanjo should not allow all his intellectual input to be in vain. Idyllic and impeccable implementation of these plans will make his political career more strong and clear a road map to his developmental agendas of 2023.

Arewa Agenda is a Publication of young writers from Northern Nigeria towards peaceful coexistence and national development through positive narratives.

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