By Deji Elumoye
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has disclosed that the top priority of Nigeria in the post-COVID-19 pandemic era will be the immediate and proper repositioning of the nation’s economy.
He listed other post-COVID-19 pandemic priorities of the nation to include, building resilience in the health sector, adding that repositioning the economy on a sustainable footing in the medium term will save jobs and build domestic capacity and local production in critical areas.
Osinbajo made this disclosure yesterday
at a virtual Chatham House interactive session with the theme themed: “Priorities for Nigeria’s Post-COVID Recovery” chaired by a senior official of Chatham House, Dr. Renata Sevan.
During the interactive session, the Vice President discussed the challenges posed to Nigeria by the global COVID-19 pandemic and the Nigerian government’s response aimed at ensuring lasting socio-economic recovery and development.
Osinbajo highlighted the significant impact of the Buhari administration’s Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) as a crucial pivot in helping the country respond to the fallouts of the pandemic.
He explained that “the Buhari administration’s first priority was to protect people and their livelihoods in response to the fallout of the pandemic. One of the ways was to support the critical MSMEs sector through the Survival Fund scheme, a component under the ESP.”
According to him, “one of the specific interventions under the ESP was what we describe as the Survival Fund, which essentially was a fund to protect jobs and to ensure that during the course of the pandemic and immediately thereafter, informal workers in particular or private sector workers especially those in the informal sector, were at least able to continue to earn some wages.”
He stated that through the Survival Fund scheme, over 300,000 beneficiaries, as well as businesses have been supported during the pandemic “by providing salaries for three months for beneficiaries, which include private school teachers, artisans, road transporters, taxi cab operators, and commercial tricycle operators in the urban areas.
“We also sought to protect the most vulnerable, in particular, the urban poor who were also hard hit. What we did was to provide direct cash transfers to the urban poor, many of them who are captured in a social register. In the first phase of that, we are able to benefit about 1 million beneficiaries, and we are now in a position using the same social register to scale up the programme to about 20 million beneficiaries.”
The Vice President also highlighted the work being done by government in the areas of improving broadband connectivity and expanding the country’s national identity base, which he stated would help in developing the country’s existing social register and other pro-poor programmes under the Buhari administration’s Social Investment schemes.