President Muhammadu Buhari with Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF, Boss Mustapha during a meeting with the Presidential Economic Advisory Council PEAC, in Abuja.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to threaten lives and global economy, President Buhari says the Federal Government will explore all options to protect Nigerians.
The President stated this at State House, Abuja, during a briefing session by the Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC) led by Professor Doyin Salami.
He noted that with oil prices currently fluctuating between 29 and 30 dollars, as opposed to the 57 dollars benchmark for the year 2020 Budget, many variables, including production cost and political impact, would determine oil prices.
President Buhari, however, said his administration had envisaged factors that would likely make a negative impact on the nation’s economy and the lives of the citizenry and had therefore been working on to how to survive fallen prices.
He explained that protecting the people from vagaries of international economic fortunes, and associated fallen prices of oil, was a priority of the government, emphasising that they would do their utmost.
Stressing the importance of education and healthcare, the President said if people were adequately educated, they would not accept any form of mismanagement by leadership, nor would they allow themselves to be manipulated by those promoting ethnic and religious sentiments.
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 would last for too long.
These include; slower growth, as the supply and demand sides of the 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.
He said there would also be oil glut, trade imbalance, drop in foreign reserves, and rise in unemployment.
Professor Salami recommended 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, curtailing recurrent expenditure.
He advised the government to mobilise the private sector to strengthen health sector infrastructure and boost government revenue, stressing that projections may seem dire, but that the worst may be avoided with hard work and scrupulous implementation of policies.
Abdullah Bello, Abuja