For Nigeria, the time to implement similar significant economic measures is now! Experts across the country have also made calls on the need to save the nation from a catastrophe altogether worse than COVID-19. President Buhari must come out of his self-imposed shell to take the centre stage in this fight against the pandemic and its after-effects; that much he owes Nigerians.


Without sounding apocalyptic, the picture of post-COVID-19 Nigeria is grim.

As the global economic impact of the pandemic takes its toll on all facets of societies, Nigeria must brace up for the challenge.

The crash of major stocks around the globe, the partial shutdown of businesses, the major lockdown of cities, and some countries, are what the pandemic is bequeathing to the world.

Infact, the price of crude oil has hit an all time low, with the last of this sort of situation seen about 18 years ago. As such, global economic recession is imminent, in a manner reminiscent of the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The impact of this will be threefold – economic, social and political. The three are innately related, as whatever affects one has a profound or multiplier effect on the other. Livelihoods are being altered globally, while the politics of many nations would greatly be impaired, depending on the dexterity and how proactive leaders are in handling the pandemic.

In the United States of America, President Trump is facing an endless backlash from Democrats, some groups and sections of the media. Also, in Nigeria, the opposition, alongside some civil society organisations, are critical of government’s handling of the pandemic. The government’s complacent in handling the crisis is as glaring as it is irritating, obviously due to its taking action a little bit late.

Without engaging in blame games, the government’s slow response to critical issues is legendary, and it has been touted as being more reactionary than proactive.

For instance, with the outbreak in November of the deadly coronavirus in Wuhan, located in the Hubei Province of China, and later in Italy, there were calls amongst Nigerians, both at home and in the diasporas, for a shutdown of the country’s borders, alongside the carrying out of intense and rigorous screenings at airports and other points of entry into the country. The hue and cry fell on deaf ears, showing insensitivity and disconnect between government and the governend.

The brazen display of the lack of concern of the government and the elite, as the pandemic initially raged, was exhibited by lawmakers who traveled about for personal and official engagements. The president’s chief of staff also traveled to Germany, thereby leaving the borders and airports open, and exposing the country to the deadly virus.

Government cannot afford to fail the citizens again. The best time to plan effectively for a post COVID-19 Nigeria is now. Economically stable and developed countries have laid out stimulus packages for their people in preparation for an imminent post-COVID-19 recession. The U.S. Congress recently approved a $2 trillion historic stimulus package, while the U.K. and other European countries have developed roadmaps for economic growth and stability in the post-COVID-19 world.


In a nutshell, the leadership in Nigeria failed the people woefully. They had two months to prepare well ahead of the landfall of the virus in the country. Had the government shut the national borders when the index case was discovered, the situation in the country would probably have been different. The Nigerian government has gained notoriety for being basically reactionary, and even getting the president to address the nation was a herculean task. Thereafter, governors sought to fill the vacuum by making policy pronouncements and taking the centre stage in curbing the virus in their respective States.

When Mr. President finally addressed Nigerians, weeks after many had been affected, his speech was sparse and uninspiring, leaving out the vast majority of Nigerians, but locking down the areas most affected by the virus in Lagos and Ogun States, and the Federal Capital Territory.

In the speech, government made some ambitious plans to cushion the crushing economic effect of this pandemic era. Although commendable, the plan appears cosmetic, because for it to be effective, the entire package must be feasible and implementable. The huge army of low income earners and the most vulnerable had expected a hugely cushioning package of palliatives, and also cash transfers.

Prior to the president’s speech, rumours were rife that the federal government would pay every Nigerian with an active bank account and biometric number (BVN) the sum of N30,000 each. This was not a misplaced gossip, but rather a clear expectation of the masses, who are groaning under an unprecedented lockdown.

Government cannot afford to fail the citizens again. The best time to plan effectively for a post COVID-19 Nigeria is now. Economically stable and developed countries have laid out stimulus packages for their people in preparation for an imminent post-COVID-19 recession. The U.S. Congress recently approved a $2 trillion historic stimulus package, while the U.K. and other European countries have developed roadmaps for economic growth and stability in the post-COVID-19 world. Even though in medical quarantine and treatment, Boris Johnson has continued to performs his duty as the U.K. prime minister.

President Buhari must be alive to his responsibilities. In Rwanda, President Paul Kagame has been actively involved in the distribution of relief materials, food and non-food items to his fellow citizens. In neighbouring Niger Republic, President Muhammadu Yusufu has promised to pay utility bills (electricity and water) for citizens for up to three months. In Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni has directed all landlords in the country to waive rent payment for people for three months. These gestures are quite noble and inspiring, and smirk of purposeful leadership.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s N3 trillion intervention package seems ambitious, and the directive to commercial banks for the reduction of interest ratess on loans to small scale entrepreneurs deserves some thumbs up. But the three-month monatarium on repayment for Trader moni, Market moni and Farmer moni, alongside other federal government funded programmes is preposterous. This would have little or no financial impact on the beneficiaries, as the funds had already been liquidated on essentials like the procurement of food items.

The most elaborate and impactful intervention from government should come in the way of unconditional cash transfers to people. This should be done while using the data of Nigerians located on platforms such as the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), the Biometric Validation Numbers (BVN), SIM registration and in partnership with National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

Also places of worship, religious leaders in mosques and churches, as well as community leaders have roles to play in the distribution of whatever interventions the government has.

Government must not rest on its oars and must be proactive because the impacts of the pandemic could lead to severe disruptions of livelihoods and intergroup relations. The billions of naira donated, the two months salaries of lawmakers offered and the slashed salaries of ministers, alongside the United Nations/World Health Organisation intervention funds must utlised effectively and in a transparent and accountable manner.


The tremendous display of solidarity and patriotism from the business community and private sector has been phenomenal. The Dangotes, Otedolas and Adenugas of corporate Nigeria led the pack, donating billions of naira for intervention programmes. Ministers and lawmakers of the federal republic followed suit by offering half of their salaries and forfeiting two months salaries respectively.

Worthy of note is that an average Nigerian is obviously more concerned about the socio-economic impacts of the coronavirus disease than the pandemic itself. Statistics from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) show that till date there have 276 cases of infections, with six deaths, although more than 5000 people, who had had contact with the infected persons, are yet to be traced.

While social distancing, keeping indoors, and maintaining hygiene are key to preventing the spread of the virus, yet staying indoors requires financial support and interventions. The question is: Can the hungry remain indoors for long?

Government must not rest on its oars and must be proactive because the impacts of the pandemic could lead to severe disruptions of livelihoods and intergroup relations. The billions of naira donated, the two months salaries of lawmakers offered and the slashed salaries of ministers, alongside the United Nations/World Health Organisation intervention funds must utlised effectively and in a transparent and accountable manner.

So far, no one has the exact figure of the received funds from different sources, but this must be made known, whilst a person of impeccable character and integrity must be made to chair the committee disbursing the funds, which must have some civil society organisations as members. Equally, a template showing the various forms and categories of interventions will need to be created, in areas such as: (1) building state-of-the-art hospitals in all the geopolitical zones of the country; (2) carrying out cash transfers to identified vulnerable persons; (3) granting startup funds to aspiring entrepreneurs; (4) supporting SMEs whose businesses had been affected by the lockdown, etc.

Religion, ethnicity, political leaning and regions of location should not form the basis for the disbursing and receiving of such interventions. Time is of the essence and is ticking away. While the U.S. is making frantic efforts to have its economy reopened very soon, it equally made provision for the disbursement of $1,200 to all its citizens in a bid to soften the effect of the pandemic on the people.

For Nigeria, the time to implement similar significant economic measures is now! Experts across the country have also made calls on the need to save the nation from a catastrophe altogether worse than COVID-19. President Buhari must come out of his self-imposed shell to take the centre stage in this fight against the pandemic and its after-effects; that much he owes Nigerians.

We are at war, but its only that our commanders seems to be downplaying the enormity of the stakes at hand. This is not about APC, PDP, CUPP or APGA, etc.; we are in a dire situation, which is only resolvable by purposeful leadership.

Abdullahi D. Mohammed is with the Department of Political Science and International Relations at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria; e-mail: abdullahkidnyce@gmail.com.