Bolaji Ogundele, Abuja
The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), has described the outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic as an opportunity for Nigeria to reset its socio-economic structures.
Prof. Osinbajo stated this on Thursday, at a virtual launch of the Nigeria Solidarity Support Fund, NSSF, an initiative of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), the Global Citizen, and other partners. The Vice President joined the event from his office.
The NSSF was designed to provide additional support for Nigeria’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and enable Nigerians resident at home or in the diaspora as well as international donors to come together and directly contribute to Nigeria’s fight against the pandemic.
Speaking on the fallouts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Nigerian economy, the Vice President said the establishment of the Nigeria Solidarity Support Fund would support “the creation of a stronger, more resilient, more inclusive political economy and healthcare system.”
According to a statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Vice President’s Office, Mr Laolu Akande, the Vice President said “this is a creative, forward-looking and thoughtful response to what is perhaps the most profound global and domestic challenge to health and the economy in human history.
“We need not belabour the point that the COVID-19 challenge is also an unprecedented opportunity for us as a nation and people to reset in critical sectors of the economy and social services.”
Emphasizing the point about resetting Nigeria’s systems, Prof. Osinbajo said “…the deep plunge in oil earnings, the disruptions to business and commerce on account of lockdowns, have meant that we must develop a comprehensive economic response.”
Speaking about the efforts being made by the Federal Government to ensure that Nigeria is properly positioned to deal with the fallouts of the pandemic, Prof. Osinbajo said “there are several initiatives in place now to attempt an effective response to the COVID-19 disaster.”
Continuing, the Vice President noted that “in addition, there is the drive to re-engineer and rethink our healthcare delivery systems. This by itself, is a massive undertaking that will involve the states, local governments and the private healthcare community. I was excited to hear that Global Citizen already has in mind, a project to build healthcare centres across every local government in Nigeria.
“In the past few years, I’m sure those of you familiar with the activities of government probably note there’s been quite a bit of effort around creating a Social Investment Programme. The precise purpose of that is not just to provide safety nets for several of the vulnerable and poor in our midst, but more importantly to provide jobs, provide credit to several informal traders, smallholder farmers, several others in our economic value chain who are usually ignored or untouched by several other credit facilities and other economic initiatives of government.
“This fund will support that and I have noticed that this is one of the objectives – to support the Social Investment efforts of the government, especially the protection of the vulnerable and provision of assistance to many in that huge informal sector that we have.”
He commended the NSIA, Global Fund and other partners involved in the creation of the Nigeria Solidarity Support Fund.
Other participants at the virtual event include the Minister of Finance, Budget & National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed; the Chairman of the Board of Directors of NSIA, Mr Jide Zeitlin; the Managing Director, NSIA, Mr Uche Orji; the Chairman of Global Citizen Nigeria, Mr Babatunde Folawiyo; and the Vice Chairman Global Citizen Nigeria, Mr Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede.