The Executive Director, Independent Advocacy Project (IAP) and Media Chair, OneVoice Coalition, Lagos Nigeria, Pastor Adedeji Adeleye has said that the Federal Government must give soft loans to the poor and also allow Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) access zero interest funds from the Central Bank of Nigeria to revamp the Nigerian economic aftermath of COVID-19 pandemic.
He equally admonished the Federal Government of Nigeria on need to set practicable machinery to restore the economy following the gradual easing of lockdown occasioned by pandemic.
He explained that there was need to “deepen financial inclusion therefore; government must quickly support the poor citizens with soft loans to enable them recover from consequences of this pandemic.
“Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) must be given easy access to loans with zero interest from the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“Banks and other business companies must be prevented from retrenching their employees with government offering tax reduction to them for this year. Also, public schools can offer free tuition to their pupils/students, and free health services in public health centres for citizens to enable them survive beyond COVID-19,” he said.
Adeleye spoke while delivering lecture at the international virtual summit titled, “Migration: Remedies for COVID-19 and the Economy” organised by the Journalists International Forum for Migration (JIFORM).
Ajibola Abayomi, the President of JIFORM described the IAP Executive Directive as a patriotic Nigerian who cared about national growth.
The two masters degree holder and foremost journalists spoke alongside speakers from several African nations with participants from other continents delivered a paper titled Economy: Leadership and survival of citizens beyond COVID-19.
He said there was need to review the numbers of Coronavirus declared daily with infected persons showing malaria symptoms and cured with malaria drugs.
“That is not to say that there is no COVID-19 but with what is happening now there are underlining factors that must be addressed. There is need to explore every alternatives including herbal solution to address the situation. The World Health Organisation (WHO) should not dictate to us what to do. Every advice must counts.”
Adeleye, who noted that the economy is in a bad state said, “We must rescue people from poverty and invest in infrastructure to improve our health institution and other areas of needs. In the USA about three million people filled unemployment forms while in the UK it was about one million. By May 2020, it was reported that about 36 million people had lost their jobs in the USA thus putting an end to a decade of expansion for one of the world’s largest economies.”
The Pastor, who expressed concern about the price oil which has dropped below $20 per barrel, the lowest in 18 years, added that there was need to cater for the needs of the people.
Notwithstanding the “palliatives rolled out by US that is over $2 trillion, UK budgeted £330 billion, France brought out €45 billion, Spain released €200 billion package, Italy budgeted €55 billion, Germany rolled out €800 billion, Nigeria received $1 billion from the World Bank, 50million Euros from EU, $45 million from US and disbursed out $145 million to the Presidential Task Force (PTF) created to combat the virus.
“For Nigeria, the country is still struggling to recover from the 2016 economic recession brought about by global oil price crash and insufficient foreign exchange earnings to meet imports.
“In the spirit of economic recovery and growth sustainability, the federal budget for the 2020 fiscal year was prepared with significant revenue expectations but with disputable realizations. The approved budget had projected revenue collections at N8.24 trillion, an increase of about 20% from 2019 figure. The revenue assumptions are premised on increased global oil demand and stable market with oil price benchmark and oil output respectively at $57 per barrel and 2.18 million Barrels Per Day.
“The emergence of COVID-19 and its increasing incidence in Nigeria called for drastic review and changes in the earlier revenue expectations and fiscal projections. Compared to events that led to recession in 2016, the current state of the global economy poses more difficulties ahead as the oil price is currently below $20 with projections that it will dip further.”
He said, Nigerian business moguls and organizations donated close to N30 billion while other organizations distributed materials and food items instead. “We hope this generosity will go beyond COVID-19 in 2021.
“In Nigeria, for the citizens to survive beyond COVID-19, we must keep money in circulation through financial service channels, particularly ATMs and agents (banking and mobile money) to serve the poor (about 93.7 million people). Under the current situation, the poor are being stretched beyond their capacity to survive via the inability to earn daily income.