385 views | Emmanuel Anthony | April 24, 2020
The National Coordinator of Concerned Advocates for Good Governance (CAGG), Barrister Olusegun Bamgbose, Esq., has advised President Muhammadu Buhari to plead with a former Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to come back and rescue Nigeria’s drowning economy.
Nigeria’s economy is currently under pressure following the outbreak of Coronavirus and the associated fall in international oil prices.
Oil has fallen to the lowest price ever with experts suggesting that in a few months traders may pay buyers to take up products.
At present, the price of a barrel of Brent crude is $25 and traders say Nigeria’s Bonny Light was sold for between $13 and $15 recently.
Although it is expected that the global economy will rebound gradually once the pandemic-induced lockdowns are relaxed, Bamgbose believes this is the time for President Buhari to take the bull by the horn.
The senior lawyer noted that the current worth of Nigeria’s oil stands at $25.57, as against the 2020 budget prediction of $53 per barrel, adding that this ugly scenario portends economic doom if nothing is done promptly.
He said although the President had set up a committee to revisit the budget and remedy the economic situation, there was still a need to take this ominous sign seriously, adding that it may lead to a recession which might take the country time to recover from.
The Lagos-based lawyer recalled in a chat with newsmen on Thursday that, “The MD of IMF, Kristalina Georgieva, said recently that, ‘Nigeria’s economy is being threatened by the twin shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated fall in international oil prices.’”
“The Finance Minister, Zainab Ahmed, in a similar vein, opined that ‘The release of contingency funds to Nigeria’s Centre for Disease Control and providing an economic stimulus package to alleviate the impact for the households and businesses hit by the downturn, are not enough to prevent Nigeria from slipping into a recession that could last until 2021 if COVID-19 continues for six more months ‘,” he said.
“This presupposes, that the possibility of Nigeria suffering an economic stroke is imminent, if certain precautions are not taken.
“The Federal Government is seeking more than $7bn in emergency funds from international lenders, including the IMF and the World Bank.
“As much as this could be necessary to avert an economic recession, it should be stated here that, acquiring money is one thing, prudent management is another.
“There is a need to involve economic experts to come to our rescue. There is this speculation that recession is imminent and it may be worse in 30 years.
“This means by the time lockdown is over, Africa’s largest economy may be facing a serious economic meltdown.
“Okonjo-Iweala is a world-class economic guru and tactician. Her services are quite needed.
“She is eminently qualified by all standards to help out, considering her achievements and antecedents. This is not a time to politicize the economy. The woman is an expert in economic affairs.
“She should be invited to contribute her quota to fix the economy. It’s most unfortunate that this government takes pleasure in celebrating the dead rather than the living.
“It’s only when one important personality dies, that the government will come out with fantastic tributes about the achievement of the deceased.
“The government should spare us the tributes and the encomiums that possibly would be showered on Okonjo-Iweala if she dies, now that she is alive, she should be invited to come on board.
“Nigerians won’t be interested in the government saying, she was the best of them all; she should be invited to contribute her quota now.
“She will even be prepared to offer her services free of charge to save her fatherland from the impending economic doom. The time is now.”
Okonjo-Iweala, who served in two past governments of President Olusegun Obasanjo and that of President Goodluck Jonathan was recently appointed by the South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa as a member of the country’s Economic Advisory Council.