The World Bank said that Nigeria was at a critical juncture, following the recession of the economy declared weekend by the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS. This came as the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, said the recession in the country would not last long.

In his remarks during a panel discussion at the Nigeria Economic Summit (NES#26) organised by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, NESG, in concert with the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, in Abuja on the 23rd of November 2020, the World Bank’s Country Director in Nigeria, Mr  Shubham Chaudhuri, said that the country faced great challenges. He stated:  “Crisis like this is often what it takes to bring a nation together to have that consensus within the political, business, government, military, civil society to say, ‘We have to do something that departs from business as usual.’ “For Nigeria, this is a critical juncture.

With the contraction in GDP that could happen this year, Nigeria’s per capita income could be around what it was in 1980 – four decades ago.” Nigeria’s per capita income in 2019 was about $ 2, 230 while in 1980 it was about $874 with an annual growth rate of about 32.03 per cent. Chaudhuri said, however, that he was “hopeful that given what the government has done, that this crisis will also provide an opportunity for that national consensus.”

He said there has been some form of recovery in the economy but that it has been quite slow to meet the pressing revenue needs of the nation. The National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, had reported last weekend that the nation’s Gross Domestic Production, GDP, sustained negative figures reading -3.62 percent in the third quarter 2020, and lunching Nigeria into its second recession in five years. The GDP had crashed to -6.1 percent in the second quarter 2020.

‘Recession’ll not last long — Minister

Addressing the summit, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed said that the nation would exit the current recession early next year. The trend of the growth, though still negative, she argued, suggested “this would be a short-lived recession, and indeed by the fourth or, at worst, the first quarter of 2021, the country will exit recession,” adding that “the Federal Government expected the recession to be shallow and recovery to be V-shaped.”

She said the recession was occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic which ravaged the entire world. According to her, many other countries were also forced into recession because of the virus, stressing that before the outbreak of COVID-19, the Nigerian economy was experiencing sustained growth. She stated: “Following the traditional definition, this second consecutive contraction in GDP means the Nigerian economy officially entered a recession at the end of Q3 2020, as the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the national response to contain its spread, manifested across several sectors of the economy.

“While the decline of -3.62% (for 2020 Q3) and -2.69 percent (for the first 9 months of 2020) are unfavourable, it was better than the -6.01% earlier forecast by the National Bureau of Statistics, and outperformed outturns from several domestic and international forecasts. “Furthermore, this COVID-19 induced recession follows the pattern across the world where many countries have entered similar economic recessions. “Recall before the impact of COVID-19, the Nigerian economy had been experiencing sustained growth which was improving every quarter until Q2 2020 when the impacts of COVID-19 started to be felt. “Other countries already in recession like Nigeria include: Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Russia, Spain, UK, and USA. “Most of these countries have recorded contractions much deeper than the Nigerian economy.” Why the economy fell into recession again —  Buhari Declaring the submit open, President Mohammadu Buhamadu Buhari, who was represented by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo said the country slipped into the current recession as a result of the severity of the global downturn caused by the COVID-19 including lockdowns, disruption in global business failures and rising unemployment  after 12 successive quarters of positive growth.

“It is no longer news of course that the economy officially entered into recession with the release of the 3rd quarter figures on Gross Domestic Product by the National Bureau of Statistics which showed a decline in growth by -3.62% in that quarter.

We must bear in mind that this decline was after 12 successive quarters of positive growth and came about as a result of the severity of the global downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic including lockdowns, disruption in global supply chains, business failures and rising unemployment. “We can all recall of course that during the lock-down, farming did not take place, businesses were closed, schools were closed as were hotels and restuarants. “Also, airlines stopped flying while inter-state commerce was disrupted..   the economy only began to recover when these activities resumed and if we are able to sustain the nearly three percentage point increase from the second quarter decline of   —6.1% the performance in the 4th quarter could take us into positive territory. “It was to mitigate this impact that the Federal Government introduced the Economic Sustainability Plan.

All the programmes in the ESP are reliant on the private sector playing a key role in creating and conserving jobs and the production and delivery of services in agriculture, housing, solar power, and digital technologies to mention just a few of the sectors.

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