President Muhammadu Buhari, though yet to make a national broadcast, has directed a repositioning of the economy, starting with a review of 2020 budget to reflect realities in the oil sector, and prioritizing health sector infrastructure to respond to the threats posed by COVID-19.
President Buhari gave the directive after the 2nd Regular Meeting of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC), which also recommended securitization of government debt, design and institutionalization of a revenue stabilization program and the imperative of cutting the cost of governance at all levels.
At the meeting, held in the State House, the President agreed with the Advisory Council on the need to prepare the country to take the necessary tough economic decisions, including embark on a national agenda of stakeholder mobilization – bringing the National Assembly, government organs, private sector and civil society together around a programme to respond to the major challenges confronting the nation.
Highlighting immediate and short-term measures to consider and implement in order to mitigate any adverse economic effects, the meeting reviewed the COVID-19 pandemic and its potential economic spill-over effects on the global and Nigerian economy.
The meeting with the Advisory Council reviewed the state of the Nigerian economy and noted its continued fragility and vulnerability to external shocks in spite of recent gains in output growth. It also noted, with concern, the changing economic fundamentals – as manifested in a renewed cycle of rising prices and weaknesses in the external sector.
The meeting also considered indirect effect that would come through the impact of the pandemic on Nigeria’s other trading partners and the global economy, with implications of global recession that could slow down Nigeria’s fragile growth and trigger exchange rate re-alignment.