COVID-19: Nigeria On The Verge Of Losing 39.4m Jobs -Says Economic Team

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The Economic Sustainability Committee (EAC) led by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has projected that about 39.4 million Nigerians may be left without jobs by the end of 2020 as a result of the s COVID-19 pandemic.

The claim is in the committee’s Action Plan submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja on Thursday.

Osinbajo said the grim pictures would only get so bad if the government failed to take necessary pre-emptive measures to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 outbreak.

The projection, according to him, also suggested that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) might fall to the negative of between -4.40 per cent and -8.91 per cent.

The Plan, themed ‘Bouncing Back: The Nigerian Economic Sustainability Plan’, outlined a range of multi-sectoral remedies to take care of massive jobs creation through the agricultural and construction sectors, as well as lending support to the informal and small scale business sectors.

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“In addition, the inevitable 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.

“Several projections, including those done by the NBS on behalf of the Economic Sustainability Committee, showed: a severe downturn in our oil earnings, as a result of which, even with the oil price at 30 dollars a barrel, we would still have a shortfall of about N185 billion every month, in the amount available for allocation to the three tiers of Government;

“That Unemployment may rise to 33.6% or about 39.4 million people by the end of 2020 if we fail to take prompt preemptive measures; that millions more will fall into extreme Poverty before the pandemic ends; that GDP may fall to between minus 4.40% and minus 8.91%, depending on the length of the lockdown period and strength of our economic response,” Osinbajo said.

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Osinbajo said his committee had designed responses to the threat, adding that the thrust would be to localise production and consumption.

Highlights of the plan included the mass cultivation of between 20,000 and 100,000 hectares of new farmlands in each state, provision of around 300,000 housing units annually and the connection of more than 5 million off-national grid homes to solar power.

“So we decided on a strategy hinged on Mr. President’s mantra to “produce what we eat and consume what we produce”. 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.

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“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, targeting 5 million households, serving about 25 million individual Nigerians who are currently not connected to the National Grid”. Part of the statement  read.

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