|Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president, says Nigeria and Africa must look inwards in dealing with the economic effects of the coronavirus [BBC]|
Former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, has warned Nigeria and other African countries that the worst of the coronavirus (COVID-19) disease is yet to be witnessed.
In an article titled ‘What Africa Must Do To Mitigate the Damaging Effects of Coronavirus’ and published on Tuesday, April 7, 2020, Atiku lamented about the lack of capable hands in the current Nigerian government led by President Muhammadu Buhari to manage the economic effects of the pandemic.
Nigeria has recorded 254 coronavirus cases and six deaths, as of April 7, significantly lower than those recorded in more advanced countries, especially the United States of America and Italy where thousands of fatalities have been recorded.
Many other African countries have similarly recorded low numbers, but Atiku believes this is because the more developed nations have better testing capacity and real-time information.
“I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Nigeria and other African nations are yet to see the worst of the effects of this scourge,” he warned.
The runner-up in the 2019 presidential election said even if the country avoids a high human toll from the virus, it won’t be able to escape a much higher economic toll, warning that a recession is a possibility.
|Atiku believes Nigeria risks losing its position as the Giant of Africa if it makes the wrong decisions in dealing with the realities forced on it by the coronavirus disease [Medium/@atiku]|
In the economic road-map he outlined to deal with the economic effects of the disease, Atiku said African nations must unite and seek debt forgiveness from China and the West, not aid.
“And we have a perfect case because almost every African nation with a COVID-19 infestation had an index case that originated outside the continent.
“Nigeria’s index case was Italian, Liberia’s was Swiss. Ethiopia had a Japanese index. South Africa’s index case was South African, but he and his family got infected in Italy,” he noted.
He said African countries must take responsibility for navigating out of its challenges, and not think about calling to China or the West for help.
“As it stands today, the world is too preoccupied with its challenges to prioritise Africa, and so we have to prioritise ourselves,” he said.
Buhari’s government lacks capable hands – Atiku
Atiku also expressed low confidence in the leadership of President Buhari to steer Nigeria clear of the magnitude of the current crisis.
“Today’s Nigerian government is severely lacking in qualified hands.
“And nothing proves this than the state of the Presidency itself. To think that after devoting N13 billion to the State House Clinic in the last five years, it is virtually useless as we face the most significant public health challenge of our national life,” he said.
The 73-year-old condemned the current government for always being too quick to want to borrow at every instance, a feature he said shows a lazy mindset and an inability to make sacrifices necessary to get the economy into shape.
|Atiku (left) lost the 2019 presidential election to Muhammadu Buhari (right) [BBC]|
He said that other than asking for debt relief, Nigeria must also engage in immediate shuttle diplomacy to get Saudi Arabia and Russia to settle their differences and end the price war that is affecting the price of oil almost as much as coronavirus.
He said Nigeria must also insist that the funds looted during the military regime of General Sani Abacha and held back by various Western governments must be immediately and unconditionally returned to the country.
“We have a humanitarian crisis on our hands. I believe that President Trump is a reasonable man.
“He knows that if nothing is done to avoid the foreseeable dislocation of African economies, the next wave of mass migration to the United States would not be from Mexico,” he said.
He said Nigeria must also abandon the 2020 budget and come up with a more realistic one because the oil benchmark is off and the country is no longer in a position to make certain allocations.
Atiku warned that Nigeria’s failure to make the right decisions will make it lose its position as the Giant of Africa.