By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief
Former Chief Economic Adviser and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Planning Commission, Prof. Magnus Kpakol, has called for better co-ordination of Nigeria’s fight against the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Speaking in an interview with Vanguard, he observed that fight against the pandemic, especially with respect to saving livelihoods in the country lacked proper coordination, requiring an urgent action to save the nation’s economy from the coronavirus consequences.
According to him, “There are two sides to the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. There is the fight to save lives and there is a fight to save livelihoods. There is no proper coordination of the Economic side of the COVID-19 pandemic –which is the livelihood. We are copying people who have large sums of stimulus running into trillions of dollars. The vice president should be made to head the economic stimulus, aspect of the fight against the pandemic.
“When the governors said they could not reach the president, they had to write a letter to the SGF. I don’t care whether it is the SGF who has to head the economic team, SGF is smart enough but there should be a better coordination. While the Presidential Task Force (PTF) headed by the SGF concerns itself with how to save the lives of Nigerians, by doing everything necessary to contain the spread of the virus; providing data, equipment, and all necessary medical products to ensure and early defeat of the virus in the country, there must a team to focus on minimizing the economic impact of the pandemic on the people.
“In my view, the Vice president who is in charge of the economy must be brought on board in this respect. He should have a Think Tank that can think through concrete steps to be taken to mitigate the effects of the COVId-19 on our economy.
“Right now there is a lockdown in the country. Remember that the MSMEs constitute about 80 per cent of the companies in the country and play a significant role in providing jobs while accounting for well over 50 per cent of our economy.”
Speaking further on the fight in the economy front, Kpakol queried the absence of a protocol for re-opening the economy, after the lockdown.
He argued, “You can’t lockdown the nation indefinitely. After almost a month of lockdown, there federal government should have, by now, come up with a protocol on how to restart the economy.”