Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says part of the tasks given to the Economic Sustainability Committee which he chairs, is to develop further palliatives.
According to the vice president, containing the spread of pandemic Coronavirus(COVID-19) and tackling its fallout, is an all Nigeria effort that requires the cooperation of all.
Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, in a statement on Tuesday said that the vice president responded to questions at a Google Hangout on Monday in Abuja.
The event was organised by the HACK COVID-19 Call Centre, where young Nigerian technology innovators talked about the impact of COVID-19 on the economy and wellbeing of Nigerians.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on Monday appointed Osinbajo to head the Economic Sustainability Committee to take care of the economic challenges and fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequential restrictions.
Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), joined the vice president at the online event, alongside a number of technology innovators from across the country.
Osinbajo responded to questions on how the Buhari administration intended to handle the consequences of the restriction of movements in parts of the country and support vulnerable Nigerians.
“We must see this as a joint effort, everyone is involved in this, it really is an all-Nigeria effort and I am happy that everyone is responding.’’
“The Committee is to take care of the economic challenges and fallouts of the pandemic and the attendant movement restrictions in the FCT, Lagos and Ogun States.
“The Committee will also develop further palliatives, and a sustainability plan to reposition the economy and grow the non-oil sector.
“First of all we must admit that there is very little precedent for what we are doing today; this is not the sort of situation that anyone necessarily prepares for.
“But fortunately for us, we have, in the past few years, designed a social investment programme that tries to address some of these types of concerns.’’
He said that part of the work of the committee was to look at some of the concerns that affected the poor; especially, in the context of what had already been done and the data already collated.
According to the vice president, the committee will also look at how to implement some strategy that will be able to alleviate the sufferings of the poor and the informal workforce
“So, we have data of the poorest of the poor, with the assistance of the World Bank, we have developed what is called the National Social Register where we mapped out, in practically all Local Government Areas in Nigeria, those who are considered the most vulnerable.
“Already, some of them get conditional cash transfers but, again, compared to the numbers, it is not large enough.
“But now we have an opportunity of doing much more in terms of giving the poor and vulnerable some kind of assistance.
“The N-power is one of our schemes where we provide opportunities for young Nigerians who have no jobs at the moment.’’
The vice president said that the president had asked that the committee took a look at how to enhance the scheme and do more.
He said that one of the critical things about the Home Grown School Feeding Programme had been a large number of cooks.
“There are over 100,000 men and women scattered across the local government areas in this country who cook for these children.
“So, at the moment, they may well be out of work, so part of what we are also looking at is for them to continue to earn a living even with the current closing down of schools; they are also obviously endangered.
“The Minister of Health is working on that and I will be working closely with her to see what can possibly be done to deliver on the president’s directive on that,” he said.
The vice president, however, assured that though the challenges were daunting and expectations high, government was ready and willing to address all of them.
He said efforts were also being made towards incorporating local manufacturers in the production of items needed to manage the pandemic.