The Economic Sustainability Committee, ESC, Thursday afternoon, held a virtual meeting with leadership of the National Assembly. Led by its chairman, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, senior advocate of Nigeria, SAN, members of the Committee had interaction with leadership of the National Assembly on the draft Sustainability Plan, ahead of the submission of the Plan to the President.
Laolu Akande, special adviser on media and publicity to the Vice President, in a statement, said the virtual meeting was anchored from the Presidential Villa and attended by Ahmed Lawan, Senate President, Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and other principal officers of the National Assembly, including members of the opposition.
According to Akande, Osinbajo, in his remarks said “the ESC called the meeting to consult with the National Assembly before the Committee’s report is submitted to Mr. President. Praising members of the National Assembly, the VP noted that the President had always commended the good working relationship between the executive arm of the Federal Government and the current National Assembly.”
Osinbajo said “it is very clear that COVID-19 has presented the country with an enormous economic challenge and also an opportunity. This is why the Economic Sustainability Committee is interacting with the National Assembly.”
In their contribution, both the Senate President and Speaker welcomed the plan and commended the President and the Vice President for calling the meeting to enable the Legislative arm of government review the plan and make comments.
The content of the plan to be submitted to President Mohammadu Buhari was not disclosed in the statement.
The ESC is a part of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19. It was charged to come up with appropriate responses to the economic realities of the pandemic. President Buhari set up the committee to develop a clear economic sustainability plan from now till 2023, identify fiscal and monetary measures to enhance oil and non-oil revenues in order to fund the plan, develop a stimulus package and come up with other clear-cut measures to create more jobs while keeping existing ones.
When the committee was inaugurated on April 2, Osinbajo said the forthcoming plan would keep old jobs and create new ones.
He said the committee would be realistic. “We must communicate to our people where we are now, and that we can no longer assume we are still where we used to be. We are faced with a challenge that no government in the history of Nigeria has ever faced. So, we have to redesign our economic planning and change our thinking.”
He further explained the mandate of the committee. “What Mr. President has asked us to do is to devise a strategy in order to be able to keep the economy going and also make provisions to ensure that we are able to retain jobs and indeed create more. We also need to develop the Nigerian economy in a way that we will even take advantage of the challenges of these times and convert those challenges to opportunities.”
He said the committee would be courageous in its assignment. “What we will need to do is something that is bold, radical and one that our people can understand and buy into. We must design a broad vision that takes into account how to implement a big plan inclusive of a focus on mass local productivity and mass employment.
“The big plan of government is to find a way for us to be able to do mass housing, increase agricultural production, ensure massive local productivity by, among several other options, increasing support to MSMEs, and majorly improve avenues to put more cash in the hands of our people and also make them productive.”
Members of the committee include” ministers of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed; Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo; Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige; Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola; the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouq; and Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Timipre Sylva. Others are: the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mele Kyari; the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele and the Permanent Secretary, Cabinet Office in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Babatunde Lawal who is the secretary of the committee.