President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday directed the Ministry of Finance and National Planning to ensure prompt salaries of workers henceforth to cushion hardship in the wake of the ongoing lockdowns to check the spread of the novel coronavirus nationwide.
He also ordered the ministry to ensure the protection of critical infrastructures like roads and rails as well as seek inputs locally to strengthen the nation’s economy.
Buhari equally sanctioned that measures be put in place to protect the poor and the vulnerable.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning and chairman of the presidential panel to review the impact of the coronavirus on the economy, Hajiya Zainab Ahmed, made the disclosure in Abuja after intimating the Nigerian leader on latest developments relating to the scourge.
On the importance of the meeting, she noted: “The consequences of the lockdown are the additional slowing down of the economy and the measures that we need to take to mitigate the negative results on trade and businesses.”
In his remarks, a member of the committee and Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, admitted that the economy was not in the best of shape owing to the COVID-19 outbreak and the free fall of oil prices, hence the need for the constant briefing of the president.
Also speaking, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, stated that the economy was not looking as simple as everybody thought, adding: “The global economy naturally like we all know at this time will naturally suffer growth problems and may even lead to recession globally. So we are trying to see what we can do as a country to rescue our own situation so that we don’t go the direction many will go.”
He continued: “It is not going to be easy, but we can only assure our people that we are on top of it and that we will resolve it and Nigerians will still be better for it.”
Other members of the presidential panel are the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Clement Agba; and the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari.