Buhari’s COVID-19 response creating inclusive growth – APC group

Godwin Amunde

The APC Legacy Awareness and Campaign, a voluntary think-tank group of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) has commended the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari for its prompt response to move Nigeria out of the COVID-19 challenges.

The group said nobody anticipated that the year 2020 would usher in the most disruptive pandemic in recent history of humanity but once the pandemic started, President Buhari’s administration undertook “a two-step approach.”

In a statement jointly signed Wednesday in Abuja by the quartet of APC National Youth Leader,Ismail Ahmed, former APC National Publicity Secretary, Lanre Issa-Onilu , a presidential media aide, Tolu Ogunlesi and Director-General of the Progressive Governors Forum, PGF, Salihu Lukman, the group noted tha the first step was to protect the lives of fellow Nigerians and residents living in the country and the second step was 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.

The group said the major steps taken by the President in response to the pandemic include; 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).

Part of the statement reads: “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, 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 N500 billion 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 N75 billion 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.”

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