A former Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, has warned that the socio-economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic will be devastating.
Obi gave the warning when he featured on a live interview on Arise Television in Lagos, yesterday.
He said Nigeria’s unemployment rate is increasing by the day because many companies have shut down their operations which was escalating the number of unemployed people.
Obi added that the continuous slide in the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figure, especially in the wake of COVID-19 has further compounded the country’s economic woes in the area of job creation.
The former governor regretted that the current managers of the economy are not doing enough to rescue citizens from the poverty net, adding that Nigeria’s budget per capita stands at $150 compared to South Africa with $2000, Egypt $600, Algeria $1700 and Morocco $900.
“Nigeria’s budget for each citizen is not up to a quarter of the budget size per head of the four other countries listed above in Africa”. He said
Coming down to West Africa, the businessman said Ghana’s budget per individual citizen is $455, Cote’Dvorie at $340 and Cameroun at $300, stressing that Nigeria is just about 50 percent of the budget size of Cameroun per individual citizen.
In comparison to Asia, Obi said Thailand’s budget per head is about $1500, Indonesia is over $600, Vietnam at $700 and Bangladesh which is a very poor country is at $300 which means Nigeria’s budget per head is very low when compared to countries around the world.
‘‘So the question to ask is what did they do and what are they doing? Increasing your revenue is simple. You cannot withdraw money from a bank if you do not pay in. As a country, we must invest in the critical areas of development. And those critical areas are very simple. You must fight poverty.
We have to invest money in small businesses because the more we invest in that area, the more the country can collect more taxes to shore up revenue and pull the citizens out of poverty. People cannot pay taxes when they are in poverty. So that area of SMEs must be supported to grow’’ He equally charged Government to put robust policies in place which would encourage more Diaspora remittances into the country. He said last Friday, President Muhammadu Buhari, announced that the country has been able to earn about $25 billion annually in the last three years from Diaspora remittances.
The astute businessman said if Nigeria were to be a forward looking country that is focused on the future, efforts should be concentrated on shoring up the $75 billion remittances in three years because that was more than what the country earned from oil sales in the same period.
‘‘ Our oil revenue in three years;2017,2018 and 2019 remained at an average of $18 billion yearly which is $54 billion compared to the $75 billion from diaspora remittances, this is a huge gap. This should prove to the managers of the economy that the new oil is in human resources.’’