A GROUP of Civil Society Organisations in Nigeria has welcomed the approval of a $3.4billion loan in emergency support by the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) to Nigeria, urging the government to use the facilities to grow the economy.
In a statement sighted by The ICIR, the group including Oxfam, BudgIt, Connected Development (CODE) and Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) noted that Nigeria is facing its worst health, social and economic crisis in decades due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
The group pointed out that the pandemic has knocked life out of Africa’s largest economy and threatens to collapse the country’s fragile health systems.
It submitted that the crisis has led to a decline in tax revenues, collapse in commodity prices especially that of oil, Nigeria’s major source of revenue.
The crisis has also led to diminishing official development assistance, and rising debt obligations, disrupted supply chains and high inequality.
The group noted that the harsh realities are set to plunge the economy into deeper crisis.
In fact, IMF had forcast that the pandemic will trigger the worst economic recession since the Great Depression, and far worse than the 2008 financial crisis.
Given that the IMF has granted an emergency loan to Nigeria, the group urged the government to utilise the funds in the best way it will benefit the country and its citizens, stressing that the country was already struggling before the pandemic and the only way out of the worse situation is commitment to building the economy.
“Even before the ongoing pandemic, poverty and inequality levels were unacceptably high in Nigeria. Both the FGN and IMF therefore need to ensure that these funds are directed towards meeting the needs of the most vulnerable in society especially women, children, internally displaced persons and rural communities”, said Constant Tchona, Oxfam in Nigeria Country Director.
Recall that the IMF Executive Board on April 28, approved $ 3.4 billion in Emergency Support to Nigeria under the Rapid Financing Instrument to support the government’s efforts to cushion the severe economic impact of COVID-19 shock and the sharp fall in oil prices.
The ICIR had earlier reported that the loan facility is considered to be the largest loan allocation by the monetary fund to an African nation to fight the pandemic, and it is scheduled to be repaid in not more than five years.