Thanks to the Federal Government’s COVID-19 stimulus package, the Nigerian economy did not degenerate as feared and at least over 2 million jobs have been both created and saved with the implementation of the Economic Sustainability Plan.
Although the target of N2.3 trillion estimated to be spent under the plan has not been achieved just as yet, the Federal Government appropriation part of that total being N500 billion has been completely released by the end of May, making it possible to attain several objectives of the ESP directly supporting a few million Nigerians.
While a total of 2,100,021 jobs have been saved and created all together, the breakdown of the figures indicate that 1.3 million jobs have been retained through interventions in the Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) space, including the Payroll Support. The 774,000 jobs from the Public Works Programme and 26,021 Jobs from construction /rehabilitation projects across the country were among those freshly created.
These were some of the highlights that emerged from a virtual meeting of the Economic Sustainability Committee measuring implementation presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, on Monday.
Commenting on the implementation of the ESP, Prof Osinbajo said the 100% release of funds appropriated in the budget for the programme was commendable and urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to expedite action on the release of funding components of the ESP that are dependent on financing from the bank.
According to the VP, “our budget funds were released in total. I thank the Honorable Minister of Finance for ensuring that it was done promptly, which means, in effect, that as far as the budget goes, we have been able to do what we practically promised to do.
“I know that if we were able to infuse N2.3 trillion into the Nigerian economy, we will not have the employment figures that we have today, we will not have the problems that we have today, they will be significantly reduced. Even with what we are able to do with the budget, growth figures at least indicate that things have not degenerated as badly as many had thought.
“So, you can imagine what we could have done if we were able to fully implement what we thought we would be able to implement. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been the case. We hope that in the next couple of weeks, we will be able to get some good response on more funds that we expect to get from the CBN which will help us to make some progress on the implementation.”
According to a summary by the Minister of State for Budget and Planning, Prince Clem Agba, construction/rehabilitation of 3,707 km Federal roads across the federation under Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) is at 65% completion.
In the agricultural sector, over 6 million farmers have been enumerated, 3.6 million passed the first stage of validation and 2.4 million scaled the second validation stage. The Minister added that 129,000 crop farmers and 38, 333 animal farmers have been profiled for the Interest-Free Loan Support for the dry season farming cycle.
He added that under the COVID-19 intervention programme for the health sector, the establishment of 520 Intensive Care Units (ICU) Beds, 52 Molecular Laboratories and Isolation Centres at Federal Tertiary Hospitals is at 67% completion.
The Minister also reported that 485 water points have been constructed/rehabilitated by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources across the federation.
Giving a summary of the funding performance, Prince Agba said N500 billion representing 100% of the total sum in the budget has been released to all the programmes of the ESP as at May 30, 2021.
Detailing the breakdown of the releases, the Minister said, the economic cluster received N202.462 billion which represents 100% of the appropriation to the cluster while N61.589 billion which also represents 100% appropriation was released for the creation of jobs for youth and women.
The Social Intervention Programme and Support to Persons of Concern received N34.957 billion; WASH Programme and Energy Support to Vulnerable Communities received N22.315 billion; support for building a resilient health system received N116 billion; support for the operations of Security Forces was put at N15.674 billion, and the 36 States of the Federation received N50 billion,” the Minister explained.
In the aviation sector, the Minister said N5 billion has been released to support local airlines, ground handlers and other aviation allied businesses.
According to him, “7 scheduled operators, comprising Dana, Overland, Airpeace, Azman, Aero, Arik, and Max Air received N2.84 billion; 20 non-scheduled operators, comprising Cargo and Private Jet Services received N949, 909,000; 5 ground handling operators, including NAHCO, SAHCO, Presion Aviation, Batuke Resources Ltd and Swissport Intl Ltd received N233,333,000; The National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies received N196 million; Airport Car Hire Association of Nigeria (ACHAN) received N196 million; 7 In-Flight Catering Services Operators received N233,333,000 and Aviation Fuel Operators received N233,333,000.”
Updating the meeting on the implementation of the Agriculture for Food and Job Plan, the Technical Assistant to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Andrew Kwasari, said the construction of 340 km of rural roads across the federation under Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) have been completed.
He added that the clearing of 3,200 hectares of land in 8 States have been completed, while the President has granted approval for fertilizer subsidy to over 1 million farmers already enumerated under the Agriculture for Food and Job Programme.
On his part, the Managing Director of Rural Electrification Agency (REA), Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad said the Solar Power Naija Programme under the ESP was progressing steadily with more communities to be connected under the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) 100,000 solar connections, among other components of the programme.
He added that the agency under the Energy for All initiative has completed the connection of 200 Primary Healthcare Centres and 104 schools across the country to solar power with plans to connect more schools and health centres.
Under the Social Housing Scheme, the Managing Director of the Family Homes Fund, Mr Femi Adewole, said the scheme is progressing steadily as the financing agreement between the Family Homes Fund and the CBN has been finalized while the Ministry of Finance has provided the necessary guarantee for the project.
He added that the disbursement request for N30 billion to finance a total of 29,600 homes will be submitted to the CBN for processing before the end of this week.
Other members of the Economic Sustainability Committee present at the meeting included the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed; Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo; Minister of Works and Housing Babatunde Fashola, Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Labour & Employment, and representative of the CBN Governor, among other officials.