Seek debt reprieve over coronavirus, Atiku counsels Nigeria, others
Canvasses jettisoning of 2020 budget
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has charged Nigeria and other African nations affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to seek debt forgiveness from their creditors.
In a statement entitled, “What Africa must do to mitigate the damaging effects of coronavirus”, the Wazirin Adamawa held that Nigeria and others had a good case, as most of them had their index cases originating from outside.
Pointing out that even if the most populous black nation was able “to avoid a high human toll from this virus, we would not be able to escape a much higher economic toll.”
Atiku, who raised fears of a looming recession, cautioned that any attempt to devalue the naira would spell doom for the economy.
He said: “We may have a recession. The challenge right now must be to mitigate it, since we cannot avoid it. Already, we see forced currency devaluations from the Cape to Cairo. These will no doubt lead to internal inflation, which will spell trouble for nations like Nigeria that have a high external dollar debt burden.”
“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. That is why we should unite and seek debt forgiveness as a direct consequence of the impact of this pandemic on our economies.
“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 an 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.”
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) standard-bearer in the 2019 presidential election further suggested: “This crisis should force a commonality of purpose in Africa.”
He advised the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to “stop being lethargic”, urging the jettisoning of the 2020 budget.