•Seeks prompt resolution, reforms to curb social disobedience
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) yesterday expressed concern about the civil unrest in Lagos and some other parts of Nigeria, following the shooting of some #EndSARS protesters Lekki Tollgate on Tuesday night.
Responding to a THISDAY question during a media briefing on the ‘Africa Regional Economic Outlook,’ at the ongoing Annual Meetings of the IMF/World Bank in Washington DC, the Director of IMF’s African Department, Mr. Abebe Aemro Selassie, said the civil unrest in Lagos, which contributes significantly to Nigeria’s overall Gross Domestic Product (GDP), could have a negative consequence on the economy.
He called for timely resolution of the crisis to prevent the economy, which is still reeling from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, from slipping further into a tailspin.
Selassie said: “Are we concerned? We are always concerned when we see protests, particularly ones that are difficult like the one in Nigeria at the moment, but also anywhere in the world, and we hope that there would be a satisfactory resolution there.”
Speaking on the support the multilateral institution granted the West African country earlier this year, he said it was to cushion the effects of the pandemic and the economic crisis that has unfolded due to COVID-19.
According to him, the pandemic led to a massive decline in tax revenues in Nigeria, even when there was a compelling need for governments to spend resources on health, education and other critical sectors of the economy.
“And I think the government has committed to both providing us with an explanation of what the resources have been used for and audits of how it has been used in due course and we look forward to that in the coming months
Economic conditions in Nigeria for the last four years have been very difficult and the decline in oil prices in 2015/2016 and growth has been anaemic and there has been a lot of pressure on standards of living so there has been dislocation and as always when you have this kind of economic difficulty social protests are not uncommon,” he added.
He called for reforms as a lasting solution to averting future unrests.
He said: “That is why it is on the record we have been saying how critical it is to get all of the policies to facilitate stronger economic growth in Nigeria and for the government to do more to raise revenues from non-oil resources to be able to invest in health and education which will allow people to be more successful and getting jobs but also improve the economy’s potential.
“So, the development agenda of Nigeria has to be more vigorous so that millions of jobs that the country needs can be created and I think that agenda remains very pressing.
“On growth projections in Nigeria, these protests happened just after the period we accumulated the data for making the growth projections of this economic outlook, and much would depend really on how these protests evolve because Lagos is, of course, a very important economic hub and contributes quite a bit of economic activities to overall Nigeria activities. So, if this persists and are showing a significant effect on economic data, we would internalise them in due course.