President Muhammadu Buhari has sanctioned that a national economic conference be convened to pull the country together towards offering solutions to the current economic challenges facing the country.
According to a top government official who declined to be identified, the economic conference has tentatively been fixed for March 10 and 11.
He said the idea was first discussed at the 65th National Economic Council (NEC) meeting held on January 28 when members called for a major conference where all the states and the Federal Government can thoroughly discuss the current economic situation of the country.
The government official explained that views of the private sector and non-state actors would also be sought at the conference. Also expected at the conference are well-respected global experts that will help to aggregate the views of other governmental, inter-governmental and non-governmental institutions.
He added that to demonstrate his personal commitment to the idea, President Buhari would personally declare the conference open and participate fully.
The source said:
“The NEC retreat, as is being called by the Federal Government and the states, becomes imperative amid dwindling oil prices with a direct and significant impact on the money now available for federal allocation and sharing between the FG, states and local government councils.
“For instance, the FG states and local governments shared a sum of N370.4bn a few days ago for the month of January 2016, which is a drop of more than N17bn from the N387.8bn shared the previous month of December last year.
“That could be compared for instance with what was shared in January 2014, which was N629bn and N503.6bn the previous December, both higher significantly than the present situation.
“Another concern of the FG and the states necessitating the economic conference is the drop in foreign reserves of the country, which is now already below $30bn and compelling the CBN to adopt tough forex measures, including the ban on certain items from forex funding and rationing.
“The depreciation of the value of naira has also become an attendant impact of the foreign exchange scarcity.”