Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Despite the call by the House of Representatives on President, Muhammadu Buhari, to order a partial reopening of schools to allow pupils sit for the 2020 West African Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), the Federal Government has insisted it didn’t feel it is safe to do so.
Minister of State (Education), Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba stated this when he briefed State House Correspondents, at the end of the eighth virtual Federal Executive Council meeting, presided over by President Buhari.
He said the ministry considered reopening schools and allowing academic activities, including writing of examinations to resume too risky, considering the rising spread of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the country.
Nwajiuba said government was still meeting with stakeholders in the education sector to chart the way forward.
“We are still meeting with parents over that. We are not confident yet that everywhere is safe. The number of COVID-19 infections from the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) are still very alarming and we have presented this to parents and all stakeholders in the education eco system.
“We are still meeting with them. In fact, there is a stakeholder meeting slated for Monday next week,” he said.
He said the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) is also consulting and looking at a possible change of date for final year exams for secondary school leavers.
“WAEC on its own part is also negotiating with other West African countries to look at possible shift in date and once they are through with that meeting and hopefully when we are also through with the consultations, if there is any change in the ministry’s position, we will communicate.”
He stressed that the remark made by Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, last week, remained the position of the ministry until further notice.
FEC also approved the 2021-2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP) with N12.66 trillion budget projection for each of the three fiscal years.
Minister of State for Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mr. Clement Agba, listed other projections in the budget as $40 per barrel oil benchmark, oil production volume of 1.6 million barrel per day, inflation rate of 11.9 per cent, projected gross domestic growth rate of 3 percent and revenue target of N7.50 trillion.
On projected revenue for 2021, he said: “Yes, I spoke of the various assumptions that has been made in terms of parameters and those assumptions are what drives revenues that we get and in terms of how you are able to reflate the economy and spend helps your GDP.
“For Nigeria, it was projected that by the end of this year we should have the GDP top at -4.42 percent. However, with the stimulus if properly done and executed, we expect that the GDP will improve to about negative -1.8 percent.
“So in terms of the revenue projection, for 2020 it was N5.84 trillion but for 2021 we expect that it will be N7.50 trillion. Even though the oil production is much lower than our capacity, because we are restricted by the OPEC Plus quota in order to get the prices at par, we have brought in 63 Government Owned Enterprises(GOE). We are bringing them into the budget order to be able to sure up the budget by additional N2.17 trillion into the budget, hence we are saying we are projecting a larger budget size for 2021 over and above the N10.84 trillion for the revised 2020 budget.
“When you look at the N7.5 trillion and the expectations to spend N12 trillion, yes definitely there will be gap and that gap has to be financed.
“Is the plan for borrowing payment? Yes there is. Even in the 2020 budget we had provisions to repay debt and in the 2021 there is provision to repay debt.”