…Says educated people won’t accept mismanagement of leadership
…As PEAC recommends revision of 2020 budget
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari yesterday said that his administration would explore all alternatives to protect Nigerians, despite the prevailing economic problems occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic.
He stated this during a briefing by the Presidential Economic Advisory Council, PEAC, led by Professor Doyin Salami, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The President in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, said with oil prices oscillating between 29 and 30 dollars in recent times, as opposed to the 57 dollars benchmark for year 2020 Budget, many variables, including production cost and political impact, determine oil prices, adding “and we will see how to survive fallen prices, as we already envisaged the problem.”
He explained that protecting the people from vagaries of international economic fortunes, and associated fallen prices of oil, is a priority of government, “and we will do our best to do so.”
Stressing the importance of education and healthcare, the President submitted that if people are adequately educated, “they won’t accept any form of mismanagement by leadership, nor would they allow themselves to be manipulated by those promoting ethnic and religious sentiments.”
He promised that inputs in agriculture, education and healthcare would continue as much as practicable.
In his briefing, Professor Salami, leading a team of PEAC members, painted sobering scenarios of what could happen to the Nigerian economy, if the Covid-19 pandemic lasted for too long.
“These include; slower growth, as the supply and demand sides of global economy would be affected, uncertainty, which would erode confidence, governments acting unilaterally instead of cooperatively, further drop in oil prices, and lockdowns gaining grounds around the world.
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“There would also be oil glut, trade imbalance, drop in foreign reserves, and rise in unemployment.”
He noted that many countries around the world may go into economic recession, adding that the PEAC advocated hard work for Nigeria to keep its head above waters.
He recommended among others,” a possible revision of the 2020 Budget, with priority spending on healthcare, reprioritisation of expenditure on infrastructure to focus on projects nearing completion with pro-poor effects.”
Other recommendations include “curtailing recurrent expenditure, mobilising the private sector to strengthen health sector infrastructure, and boosting of government revenue.”
The Presidential Economic Advisory Council stressed that the projections may seem dire, but the worst may be avoided with hard work and scrupulous implementation of policies.