President Buhari’s Covid-19 Response Creating Inclusive Growth, By Ismail Ahmed, Lanre Issa-Onilu, Tolu Ogunlesi and Salihu Moh. Lukman

The APC Legacy Awareness and Campaign, a voluntary think-tank group of the governing party, wish to acknowledges the remarkably clear and firm response of the APC led Government of President Muhammadu Buhari to Covid-19 pandemic. Nobody anticipated that the year 2020 would usher in the most disruptive pandemic in recent history of humanity. However, once the pandemic started, President Buhari’s administration undertook “a two-step approach. First, to protect the lives of our fellow Nigerians and residents living here and second, to preserve the livelihoods of workers and business owners to ensure their families get through this very difficult time in dignity and with hope and peace of mind.”

Major steps taken by the President in response to the pandemic include the following:

  • Setting up an Economic Sustainability Committee chaired by the Vice President, to develop a comprehensive economic stimulus plan, known as the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP). The ESP has been widely credited with fast-tracking Nigeria’s exit from the Covid-induced recession, and as a contributor to the robust 5.1 percent economic growth recorded in Q2 2021. The ESP has included a range of interventions from Payroll Support, to federal investments in renewable energy for households, to grants for artisans and transport workers, and aviation sector bailout packages.
  • Setting up a Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 (now the Presidential Steering Committee on Covid-19), chaired by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
  • Setting up a Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy Implementation Committee, chaired by the Vice President, to contribute to the presidential vision of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty within a decade.
  • Approving the establishment of a 500 billion Naira COVID-19 Crisis Intervention Fund, dedicated to various programs ranging from health infrastructure upgrades to a national public works programme. Health infrastructure successes seen so far include the (ongoing) construction of Oxygen Production facilities in every State of the country, as well as the construction of Infectious Disease Centers.
  • Approving a series of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) stimulus interventions, including a stimulus support package for individuals and households, which has seen total disbursements of more than 400 billion Naira so far, to over 600,000 beneficiaries. Another aspect of the CBN’s stimulus programme is the reduction in interest rates on CBN intervention facilities, from 9 percent per annum to 5 percent, from March 1, 2020 to February 28, 2022.
  • Approving the take-off of the 75 billion Naira National Youth Investment Fund (NYIF) which is funding youth-led businesses, as well as the Jubilee Fellows Programme which will place 20,000 University graduates in work-preparation/career-development internships annually.
  • Approving the launch of an Export Expansion Facility Programme, designed to provide a financial lifeline to export businesses.
  • Approving the release of special intervention grants of 10 billion Naira and 5 billion Naira to the Lagos State Government (Lagos being the pandemic epicenter) and the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) respectively.
  • Approving a repayment moratorium for all Social Investment Programme microcredit loans (TraderMoni, MarketMoni and FarmerMoni), and all Federal Government funded loans issued by the Bank of Industry, Bank of Agriculture and the Nigeria Export Import Bank.
  • Approving the expansion of the National Social Register (official database for implementation of the Conditional Cash Transfer programme) by 1 million additional households, and of the N-Power youth jobs scheme.

Also, recently, the President has just set up a Committee to comprehensively reform the health sector, to build on the efforts already introduced by the administration in the recent past, including the operationalisation of the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund (BHCPF).

In September 2020, the Manufacturing Association of Nigeria (MAN) CEO’s Confidence Index (MCCI) for the second quarter of 2021 revealed that Nigeria’s manufacturing sector has bounced back to pre-pandemic levels of activity, a milestone that the Buhari Administration’s multi-pronged sectoral interventions and stimulus programmes have no doubt contributed significantly to.

We are confident that the Administration’s economic efforts and initiatives will continue to yield fruit, and translate into inclusive growth and prosperity for all Nigerians.  

Barr. Ismail Ahmed, Mr. Lanre Issa-Onilu, Mr. Tolu Ogunlesi and Mr. Salihu Moh. Lukman

September 15, 2021