Nigeria’s exit from recession is a key indicator of the success of the ongoing Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) approved by the Federal Government, the presidency has said.

Laolu Akande, spokesperson for Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, said Nigerians should expect more as the implementation of the plan is gathering greater momentum.

Mr. Akande made these claims while updating the media on ESP progress and reacting to the latest GDP figures for the last quarter of 2020.

The president and the Federal Executive Council approved the ESP plan last June and the Vice President was asked to lead the implementation of the plan.

The plan is aimed, among others, at preventing a deep recession and putting cash in the hands of Nigerians after the economic fallouts of the pandemic.

Nigeria slipped out of recession in the last quarter of 2020 as a GDP growth of 0.11 percent was recorded.

Rebound

Mr Akande noted that right from Q3 2020, the economy was already on a rebound adding that the latest fourth-quarter figures show that the recovery of the Nigerian economy is a steady one.

“Like we explained late last year after the release of the third-quarter figures, the Economic Sustainability Plan, which was a calculated intervention by the Buhari Presidency, is driving the Nigerian economy in the right direction-upwards, and Nigerians can expect more because the administration is unrelenting in its determination to pursue the steady recovery and growth of our economy,” Mr Akande noted.

The Presidential spokesperson said the Economic Sustainability Plan is entering into an even more potent phase with the revving up of plans to install 5 million solar installations across the country and the social mass housing plan that will result in hundreds of thousands of affordable houses for ordinary Nigerians. Both aspects, he noted, will yield several hundreds of jobs besides giving the national economy a significant spur like never before.

He explained that the Survival Fund is making waves with MSMEs, artisans, transport workers, hundreds of thousands receiving cash stimulus, and the payroll support where an equal number of people running into hundreds of thousands employed by businesses are collecting N50,000 monthly.

He said the payroll support covers three months’ salaries for beneficiaries.

He argued that about 311,000 employees have received the payroll support coming from 64,000 businesses nationwide and over 165,000 artisans have also benefited from the Survival Fund. In all, the Survival Fund is on course to safeguard at least 1.3million jobs.

The Government Off-take Scheme, GOS, where the Federal Government will pump an additional N15billion to support Nigerian-owned businesses by off-taking a number of products in a bid to keep businesses alive and create jobs is also underway, he said.

The GOS will cover products such as facemasks, liquid soaps, disinfectants, hand sanitizers, and other processed foods and spices. Altogether, he said the GOS will benefit 100,000 MSMEs, while an additional 100,000 Nigerians will also be benefiting from a one-off N50,000 MSME grant different from those already paid to artisans, transport workers and separate from the payroll support.

GDP Figures

Commenting on the quarter 4 GDP figures, Mr Akande quoting a Presidency review on the latest GDP figures, said that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 0.11% in Q4 2020 following two consecutive quarters of negative growth, showing an exit from the pandemic induced recession.

“This positive quarterly growth in Q4 2020 contributed to overall GDP, which contracted by -1.92% for the full year in 2020,” he said.

“This GDP report is important for a number of reasons. It is a reflection of the growing importance of the non-oil sector, as its contribution to GDP has increased from 92.68% in Q4 2019 to 94.13% in Q4 2020. The non-oil sector performance was mainly driven by growth in Information and Communication, as the pandemic meant greater use of ICT services.

“Growth in Agriculture, Manufacturing, Mining, Construction, and Real Estate also contributed to the improvement of the non-oil sector.

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The Presidency review noted that however “in contrast, the oil sector fell by -19.76% in Q4 2020 (6.36% in Q4 2019) as average oil production declined to 1.5 million barrels per day (1.5mbpd). This can be attributed to Nigeria’s compliance with OPEC+ quotas.”

It was observed that the “report indicates that Nigeria’s response to the COVID-19 induced shocks, the Economic Sustainability plan and the timely revision of the Federal Government budget, were effective.”

Mr Akande explained that “the Nigerian Economy outperformed various analysts’ expectations like the IMF and World Bank. In addition, Nigeria’s quarter on quarter growth of 9.7% surpassed China (2.6%), USA (4%), and Japan (3%) despite these countries having larger stimulus packages.”

In conclusion, he said the review stated that “the Nigerian economy performed reasonably despite the earlier lockdown, trade disruptions, #EndSars protests, and oil price volatility. There is optimism as oil prices continue to stabilize, COVID-19 cases reach a plateau, success of an imminent vaccine rollout, and continued effective implementation of the Economic Sustainability Plan.”

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