The African Initiative for Governance (AIG), a non-governmental organization founded by Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, collaborated with the Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford University to host a webinar addressing the impact of COVID-19 and crashing oil prices on Nigeria’s economy.
COVID-19 has brought about many changes to the fabric of every society, restricting business activities and causing loss of lives across the world. In Nigeria, the country is faced with a double-edged crisis comprising COVID-19 on one hand and the instability in oil prices on the other. The latter has been costly because the 2020 budget was based on forecasted oil prices of $57/bl. The 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 Nigerian personalities who participated in the webinar include Former President of Nigeria –Olusegun Obasanjo; Former Emir of Kano State, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi; Speaker, House of Representatives –Femi Gbajabiamila; Dr Ceyla Pazarbasiogu, Vice President for Equitable Growth, Finance and Institutions (EFI) at the World Bank; and Dr Yemi Folashade-Esan, Head of Civil Service of the Federation.
Prof. Ngaire Woods, Dean, Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford University gave an opening address, preceding a presentation by Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, who pointed out that a crisis is a platform for change. According to him, “COVID-19 has brought an opportunity for Nigeria to rethink and re-invent 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”
In response to the question, “What response should governments take in responding to the crisis?” Professor Paul Collier, Professor of Economics and Public Policy at Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford remarked “The right answer is …..I don’t know, because there is no guidebook anywhere in the world so just learn as you go”.
Olusegun Obasanjo commended the Buhari-led administration for its efforts in managing the health crisis, highlighting the falling oil prices as an opportunity for Nigeria to finally advance the diversification of her economy after “decades of paying lip service –moving two steps forward and three steps back.”
House Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila challenged the notion of Nigeria as a developing country, noting “If we harness our resources well, Nigeria should be a developed country, not a developing country.”
Taking the historic route, Sanusi Lamido recommended we take a hard look at the structure of the country to understand that decisions taken decades ago have implications for our core governance framework.
This was followed by a detailed presentation by Dr Ceyla Pazarbasiogu on how important it was for Nigeria to implement policies to boost the economy and improve governance. Dr Yemi Folashade-Esan, Head of Service of the Federation highlighted her plans to digitize the Nigerian public sector and reduce wastes.
The event ended with closing remarks from Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede and Prof. Ngaire Woods, reiterating the need for the government to take actions to improve the country’s situation at this time.
About Africa Initiative for Governance
Africa Initiative for Governance (AIG) is a not-for-profit founded to inspire the transformation of Africa’s public sector. AIG works with governments, academic institutions and other partners to improve governance and transform public sector performance. AIG’s pioneering initiative brings proven private sector innovation, leadership and funding to the public sector in a private-public partnership that seeks to attract, inspire and support future leaders of Africa’s public sector. With AIG’s continuing support, these high-caliber individuals will be able to drive best practice standards of governance in Africa, ensuring
sustainable economic growth and social justice.