Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has created opportunity for Nigeria to spend wisely and diversify the economy, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, founder/chairman of Africa Initiative for Governance (AIG), has said.
Speaking in a webinar organised by the AIG, a not-for-profit founded to inspire the transformation of Africa’s public sector, he says while governments have so far committed $15.6 trillion in response to Covid-19, an average of $2,042.00 per person, Nigeria’s $6.5 billion in commitments amount to a paltry $32.50 per person.
Aig-Imoukhuede recommends that the private sector should collaborate more with the government.
The webinar was held in collaborated with the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford to host a virtual discussion on “COVID-19 and the Oil Price Crash: Nigeria’s Tough Choices”.
Other stakeholders called for Nigeria to use the opportunity presented by the Covid-19 to diversify the economy. Prominent Nigerians who participated in the webinar included, former President of Nigeria – Olusegun Obasanjo; former Emir of Kano State, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi; speaker, House of Representatives – Femi Gbajabiamila, and head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Folasade Yemi-Esan, among others.
The webinar also featured Ceyla Pazarbasiogu, vice president for Equitable Growth, Finance and Institutions (EFI) at the World Bank, Paul Collier, professor of Economics and Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford, and Ngaire Woods, Dean of the Blavatnik School.
Sanusi Lamido urges Nigerians to take a hard look at the structure of the country to understand that decisions made decades ago have implications for our core governance framework.
According to him, “Covid-19 has brought an opportunity for Nigeria to rethink and reinvent the way we lead our people so that we can spend smartly, generate more revenue and also get them to act in a manner that will deal with this pandemic and other health issues”.
Collier states that the impact on Nigeria would be an economic one, with a fall in government revenues and people’s capacity to spend. He opined that the government should focus on encouraging growth in the informal sector to boost the economy.
Gbajabiamila, while noting that this was indeed a tough time for the country, challenges the notion of Nigeria as a developing country, noting, “If we harness our resources well, Nigeria should be a developed country, not a developing country.”