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40 percent of Nigerians poor – Buhari govt

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The President Muhammadu Buhari administration on Thursday admitted that 40 percent of Nigerians are poor.

NAN reports that Finance Minister, Zainab Ahmed, made the declaration on Thursday.

She spoke to State House correspondents after the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting anchored from the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Ahmed stated that Nigeria was in a very difficult time and facing a very significant economic downturn that has not been seen in its history.

The minister noted that global economy was also facing the sharpest reversals since the great depression as it had both health and economic consequences.

Ahmed noted that the coronavirus pandemic had caused the collapse of oil prices.

“The impact has already started showing on the federation’s revenues and on the foreign exchange earnings. Net oil and gas revenue and influx to the federation account in the first quarter of 2020 amounted to N940.91billion.

“This represented a shortfall of N125.52 billion or 31 per cent of the prorated amount that is supposed to have been realised by the end of that first quarter. 40 per cent of the population in Nigeria, today, is classified as poor; the crisis will only multiply this misery.

“The economic growth in Nigeria, that is the GDP, could in the worst case scenario, contract by as much as minus -8.94 per cent in 2020. But in the best case, which is the case we are working on, it could be a contraction of minus -4.4 per cent, if there is no fiscal stimulus.”

Ahmed said the Federal Government was committed to supporting the financial viability of states.

This includes the suspension of payments in respect of commitments and debts that have been secured with ISPOs by the states at the federal levels.

“So, we have already implemented suspension of deductions of a number of loans that have been taken by the states from April and also in May. The Economic Sustainability Committee is responsible for providing overall strategic vision, policy direction and general oversight of the implementation.”

The minister pointed out that some of the measures to mitigate the COVID-19 impact included the N500billion stimulus package President Buhari approved.

She added that fund accommodates the increase in the social register by one million households to 3.5million for cash transfer programme and other palliatives.

Critics continue to criticise the cash transfer claim of the government as many Nigerians are yet to receive bank alerts.

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