COVID-19 pandemic: Opportunity to reset Nigeria’s critical sectors— VP Osinbajo

VP Yemi Osinbajo, during a recent meeting of the Economic Sustainability Committee reviewing the draft Economic Sustainability Plan ahead of submission to President Muhammadu Buhari, for his consideration

Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, in a statement on Thursday in Abuja, said the vice president featured, from his office, in a virtual launch of the Nigeria Solidarity Support Fund (NSSF).

NSSF is an initiative of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), the Global Citizen, and other partners.

The NSSF is designed to provide additional support for Nigeria’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The fund will enable Nigerian Citizens 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.

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Osinbajo said that the pandemic had affected lives and livelihoods of Nigerians in different ways.

The vice president noted that the NSSF would support the creation of a stronger, more resilient, more inclusive political economy and healthcare system.

“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.

“The deep plunge in oil earnings, the disruptions to business and commerce on account of lock-downs, has meant that we must develop a comprehensive economic response.

“There are several initiatives in place now to attempt an effective response to the COVID-19 disaster.”

He spoke on the efforts being made by the Federal Government to ensure that Nigeria is properly positioned to deal with the fallouts of the pandemic.

Osinbajo added  that the government was spearheading the drive to re-engineer and rethink the healthcare delivery systems in the country.

According to him, resetting the healthcare is a massive undertaking that will involve the states, local governments and the private healthcare community.

He said he was excited to hear that Global Citizen already had in mind a project to build healthcare centres across every local government in Nigeria.

“In the past few years, I am 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.

“To 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 said.

The vice president commended the NSIA, Global Citizen and other partners involved in the creation of NSSF.

Other participants at the online event included Hajia Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning,  the Chairman of the Board of Directors of NSIA, Mr Jide Zeitlin and the Managing Director, NSIA, Mr Uche Orji.

Also featured were the Chairman of Global Citizen Nigeria, Mr Babatunde Folawiyo and the Vice Chairman Global Citizen Nigeria, Mr Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede.