Watching with consternation the fall out of events, actions, and inactions of our Nigerian leaders on mitigating the negative impact of COVID-19 Pandemic disruptions on our social and economic lives.
As a young dynamic business and entrepreneurship writer, and author cum small business owner, what came into my mind as we navigate the storms of COVID-19, was a common English phrase Adages, Proverbs, first recorded in Fuller’s Gnomologia, 1732: ‘A stitch in time saves nine’ which was translated to literally, solve the problems right now! Why procrastinating? If we, as a nation wants to break away from past mistakes, and present mistakes, we should hold the bull by the horn right now.
And avoid the roads of political expediency. That is exactly what the stitch in time simply stood for. Promptly address issues posed by Coronavirus. By quickly sewing up of a small hole or tear in a piece of material, so saving the need for more stitching at a later date when the whole has become larger.
Covid-19 Pandemic presents a golden opportunity for these present crop of Nigeria political leaders to stamp their names in Nigeria history as among those who steered out our economic ship from sinking into recession and depression caused by Covid-19.
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo painted the obvious while presenting the report of the Economic Sustainability Committee to President Buhari. According to their report, the Fed might experience a shortfall of about N185bn monthly allocations to three tiers of government.
Some of their recommendations in terms of cash transfer, MarketMoni and TradeMoni schemes should not be repeated again. These programs did not impact the standard of living to those whom they claimed benefited from it.
It was more of an idea conceived to win more votes during the 2019 general elections. Now that general elections are over, investigation and facts on the ground proved that it was not technically managed to reach the people and vulnerable in our local communities. Why pushing monies into those programs that have not lifted the beneficiaries out of poverty? Rather the majority of those funds were diverted into political appointees and cronies.
Our leaders should sample opinions and learn to listen to people they claimed to govern. The majority of Nigerian are saying, change strategy now!
How Do You Solve Problems and Re-start the Economy?
- Confident Building: As a president, governor, legislators, ministers, and local level leaders alike, you are leading the giant of Africa, a population of over 250 million people. Nigerians need to believe our leaders are in control, they are to have confidence that you can make smart decisions in tough times. History of 1987, post-2015-2016 Nigeria recession facts and figures have exposed the inadequacies and shortcomings of our political leaders. The Nigerian Finance Minister–, Zainab Ahmed, was quoted as saying: Nigerian economy going into recession, might contract by -8.9%. The Nigerian economy is expected to record negative growth as it slides into recession, due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and crash in oil prices. Some of us at the private sector drivers were waiting for her and the economic team to come up with a strategic economic well thought plans on how to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 in Nigerian citizens and her economy. But what happened? Borrowing from every part of the world you can imagine! Creating more anxiety and panic into the already saturated system? Doing directly opposite of what other country leaders and economic drivers of their economies does. What are things other economic
leaders are doing in this most difficult time in the history of mankind?
- Identify every sector of the economy and create loans or grants to put business and workers back to work
- Identify informal and formal sectors with the worst hit on cash flow. How do you do that? Bank statement within the period under review. Data collections and analysis can help determine those who qualified for COVID-19 Financial Support from the Fed. Verification of claims can be done by a site visit. Visit market places, collect your data. How many households were affected and build palliative around it after the collection of data and acceptable community standard of distributions government assistance? That is devoid of any form of affiliation. Although CBN came up with a similar package called COVID-19 Support Loan being handled by NIRSAL Microfinance Bank. Which is shrouded in secrecy and lack of openness to the Nigerian public and desperate applicants whom their source of living has been wiped out by Covid-19 lockdowns and economic disruptions?
- Create an Economic Recovery and Protection Structure whose mandate is to identify, difference size of the business, SMEs, and large firms. Putting the structure and standard template
- Capture Informal and Formal Sectors with blueprint plans on how they are going to be protected through financial assistance to survive the hardship and keep their business afloat until economic life returns to normal.
- Avoid perpetual lockdowns of schools, Kingdom of God, Mosques, curfews, restrictions, and ban on inter-state movements of people, goods, and services. Rather, advocate safety, mitigation, and prevention measures against Coronavirus. The solutions to COVID-19 Pandemic is neither here no there. Countries like France, USA, UK and other European countries that are worst hit are opening up their economies, relaxing down on restrictions, opening their entry points such as international airports with trick health and safety measures to check, testing medical equipment to identify the asymptomatic and symptomatic person(s) for isolation and proper treatment to avoid spread. Following NCDC guidelines and make sure there is at least 70-80% level of compliance. And constant monitoring, evaluation, report, and reviews by local, states, and Fed through Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 (PTF).
The risk and consequences perpetual of the inter-states movement ban are more devastating! The number of armed robbery and banditry increases, rape increases, suicide increases, psychological trauma, people sleeping into extreme poverty, businesses will shut down, government sources of revenues will disappear due to lack of economic activities will disappear gradually. The result will be terrible! God forbids that we get into that worst stage!
NWALI Tochukwu F. Author, “Entrepreneur as a Disruptive Thinker & Innovator”