Africa Initiative for Governance (AIG), a not-for-profit organisation founded to inspire the transformation of Africa’s public sector, has collaborated with the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford to host a virtual discussion on “COVID-19 and the Oil Price Crash: Nigeria’s Tough Choices”
Participants at the webinar said the drop in crude oil prices presents opportunity for Nigeria to diversify the economy. COVID-19 has brought about many changes in the fabric of every society, restricting business activities and causing loss of lives across the world. For Nigeria, that is faced with a double-edged crisis comprising COVID-19 on the one hand and instability in oil prices on the other the opportunities are even more compelling. The latter has been costly because the 2020 budget was based on oil price benchmark of $57/bl even though a decline in the price of Brent benchmark crude has forced the government to revise this to $20/bl while maintaining proposed production volume at 2.18mn bl/d.
Prominent Nigerians who participated in the webinar included Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, Founder and Chairman of Africa Initiative for Governance (AIG), Former President of Nigeria – Olusegun Obasanjo; former Emir of Kano State, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi; Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; and Mrs Folasade Yemi-Esan, Head of the Civil Service of the Federation. The webinar also featured Dr Ceyla Pazarbasiogu, Vice President for Equitable Growth, Finance and Institutions (EFI) at the World Bank, Prof. Sir Paul Collier, Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford and Prof. Ngaire Woods, Dean of the Blavatnik School.
Many of the speakers admitted this was indeed an important moment for Nigeria.
Aigboje AigImoukhuede in his opening address mentioned that while governments have so far committed $15.6 trillion in response to COVID-19, an average of $2,042.00 per person, Nigeria’s $6.5 billion in commitments amount to a paltry $32.50 per person. According to him, “COVID-19 has brought an opportunity for Nigeria to rethink and reinvent the way we lead our people so that we can spend smartly, generate more revenue and also get them to act in a manner that will deal with this pandemic and other health issues”.