Osinbajo plans to save 39 million jobs in Nigeria

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo submits the Sustainability Plan to President Muhammadu Buhari Agriculture for Food and Job Plan
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo submits the National Economic Sustainability Plan to President Muhammadu Buhari

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has moved to save 39.4 million Nigerians from losing their jobs as he submitted the Economic Sustainability Committee’s Sustainability Plan to President Muhammadu Buhari.

In the Plan submitted on Thursday, Prof. Osinbajo said mandatory lockdowns and social distancing measures put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19 have had a severe negative impact on farms and factories, as well as on trade, transport and tourism.

He noted that several projections, including those done by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on behalf of the Economic Sustainability Committee showed that millions of Nigerians could be without jobs before the end of the year.

“A severe downturn in our oil earnings, as a result of which, even with oil price at 30 dollars a barrel, we would still have a shortfall of about N185 billion every month, in the amount available for allocation to the three tiers of Government,” he said in the Plan presented to the President.

He added that unemployment may rise to 33.6% or about 39.4 million people by the end of 2020, if we fail to take prompt preemptive measures and that millions more will fall extreme poverty, before the pandemic ends.

He explained that GDP may fall to between minus 4.40% and minus 8.91%, depending on the length of the lockdown period and strength of our economic response.

Osinbajo details Sustainability Plan

The other major highlights and recommendations of the Osinbajo ESC plan include: “Strategy hinged on Mr. President’s mantra to “produce what we eat and consume what we produce”. In other words, to create millions of new jobs, we need to focus on encouraging local production, local services, local innovation, and emphasize the use of local materials.

The Plan also made provision for mass agricultural programme which is expected to bring between 20,000 and 100,000 hectares of new farmland under cultivation in every State of the Federation and create millions of direct and indirect job opportunities.

According to the Plan, there should be extensive public works and road construction programme focusing on both major and rural roads and using locally available materials like limestone, cement and granite.

To create more jobs, a mass housing programme that will deliver up to 300,000 homes annually was proffered. The programme will engage young professionals and artisans who form themselves into small and medium scale businesses within the construction industry, using indigenous labour and materials.

To ensure steady power supply, the Plan advocated for installation of solar home system, targeting 5 million households, serving about 25 million individual Nigerians who are currently not connected to the National Grid.

A provision for support for local production and manufacturing of all that is possible, including tech apps, software, shoes, garments, steel fabrication, ceramics and furniture, with the required capital and essential machinery was in the Plan.

Support for small businesses was included in the Plan through the provision of ample support for the informal sector through low interest loans and by easing procedures for registration, licensing, obtaining permits, etc. By these means, urban and informal business people like mechanics, tailors, artisans, and petty traders, will be encouraged to improve and develop their services.

Nigeria has risen on the World Bank Ease of Doing Business ranking and to maintain that, the Sustainability Plan would provide support for MSMEs, especially in assisting to restructure their loans with banks. Among others, this will assist businesses in the pharmaceutical, aviation, hotels and the hospitality industry, private schools, road transportation, technology companies, and the creative industry, amongst others.

With internet at the vanguard of development, the Sustainability Plan made provision for the facilitation of broadband connectivity across the country and creation of a wide variety of technology and ICT jobs.

The Sustainability Plan wants an expansion of the Social Investment Programme, through an increase in the number of cash transfer beneficiaries, N-Power volunteers and sundry traders enjoying small and micro loans through the MarketMoni and TraderMoni schemes. The pre-existing conditional cash transfer will also be extended to cover a larger number of the extremely poor.