2020 Economic Plan: ASCAB presents a peoples alternative

2020 Economic Plan: ASCAB presents a peoples alternative

Tuesday, July 21, 2020 5:05 pm

File: Doctors treating coronavirus patients

Alliance on Surviving Covid 19 and Beyond (ASCAB), on 21 July 2020, held a zoom press conference on the Government’s Economic Sustainability Plan 2020. Below is the critique and Summary of the group’s position:


2020 Economic Plan: ASCAB presents a peoples alternative

Nigeria’s Economic Sustainability Plan launched recently by the Federal Government will  fail to  deal with the lack of the essentials of life which is the major challenge facing more than half the population of Nigerians over the next year.

The basic needs of Nigeria, according to Alliance for Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond (COVID), are food, health, housing, clothing and security. ASCAB said the proposal by the Federal Government may appear beautiful in letters, but in reality has failed to address the class variables. It said the plan does not seek to harness the potentials of Nigerians but rather continue to make the country a satellite of developed nations, leaving local resources at the mercy of local and international exploiters. The plan has not created a paradigm shift from a dependent neo-colonial economy, the Alliance said.

“A fundamental fiasco in the proposal is the lack of commitment to bridge the wide gap between the rich and the poor, address the skewed distribution of wealth, especially public resources, address socio-economic inequalities and eliminate the conditions that sustain financial insecurity of millions of Nigerians”, ASCAB leaders said at the presentation of its alternative economic blueprint on Tuesday.

ASCAB is a coalition of some 80 civil society groups spread across Nigeria including the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC). ASCAB is led by prominent lawyer, Femi Falana who is the chair. The NLC President, AyubaWaba and TUC President QuadriOlaleye are co-chairs of the group.

The group said one of the major challenges facing Nigeria is the lack of consultation and inclusion in budget conception and implementation adding that budgets have become yearly rituals that make no impact in the lives of many Nigerians whose needs, fears and aspirations were not considered before the budgets are drawn. “The budgets reflect the limited wisdom of those in power, without any consideration for the critical sector, which is the working class and the other main beneficiaries of the budget.”

ASCAB said the index employed in drawing the economic plan relied heavily on statistics and figures, rather than on people and their living experiences.

“There is wrong assumption that the government can assume what the people want without consultation with the people. There is a tradition in Nigeria that substitutes the consciousness of Nigerians with the consciousness of those in power. This creates huge contradictions in budget implementation leaving the people at the short end of the stick,” ASCAB said.

It observed that the 2020 planalso fails to define in concrete terms the mechanism for the elimination of corruption in terms of contract inflation, peddling of influence, excessive financial privileges of public officials and centralized planning which undermines indigenous creativity and potentials.

ASCAB said “The budget is the main mechanism for directing and targeting public investment, and to a large extent, also private investment, towards enabling human and socioeconomic development in any polity; and channelling utilization of public and societal wealth for the common good, in the interest of all citizens, and with a view to achieving the ultimate goal of equitable distribution of wealth, and social inclusion and equity in the society.”

The group observed that contrary to this broad underlying principle, and directly in sharp contrast to the intent of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria [as amended], the budgetary process has been undertaken in a manner that promotes social exclusion, enhances and drives inequality, and ultimately undermines human development.

It noted for instance with respect to the Appropriation Amendment Act 2020 recently passed by the National Assembly and assented to by President Buhari, that the practice wherein Appropriation Bills of the NNPC, CBN, NIMASA, NPA, FAAN  and about 60 other federal agencies are usually purportedly “passed” separately after the President has laid the national estimates before the National Assembly, and in most cases, after the President has assented to the national budget, is fundamentally unconstitutional.

While calling for an end to the illegal and unconstitutional practice of running multiple budgets by the Federal Government and all Federal agencies ASCAB demands for the immediate publication of the Appropriation Bills of all Federal agencies. Furthermore, ASCAB calls on the National Assembly to embark on urgent review of the budgets of all federal agencies to reflect the state of the nation in view of the challenge of Covid 19.

The ESP is driven by the neo-liberal mantra of increasing revenue, utilising increased revenue to increase investment and spending in the economy, and by so doing, stimulate growth which will not eliminate poverty.

Nigeria has had decades of annual GDP growth rates averaging 6 to 8% per annum, without concomitant reduction in poverty. As a matter of fact, during these decades (1999 and 2016) of high economic growth rates, poverty and unemployment rates increased exponentially, while the housing condition declined drastically, reaching a whopping 17 million housing deficit by 2015. Other observations raised by ASCAB included:

  • For a plan to be able to articulate the interests and aspirations of citizens, it must be clear and precise, and the narrative and rationale must be hinged on the pressing needs of the people, nation building and national and human developments.
  • Primary, the economic growth orientation of these policies are hinged on leveraging on and consolidating our precarious position as producers of primary produce and products, producers of raw materials.
  • Given the foregoing, the Economic Sustainability Plan has been focused on building up oil & gas and non-oil & gas revenues but reducing non-essential spending as means of securing funds for the Economic Sustainability Plan.
  • An economy that is import dependent, consuming rather than a producing economy, and one whose national manufacturing and services base is weak; thereby, dependent on the goods and services produced externally, cannot be well-positioned to maximise the full and inherent benefits of implementing stimulus packages. Such a stimulus package, no matter the size, in such an economy, is more likely to end up supporting the recovery of external economies, to the detriment of its own.
  • We agree with the slogan, Produce what we eat and eat what we produce. We call however, that the concept should be extended to all aspects of our National life; whereby, the Nigerian people produce their basic needs.. Promoting Made-in-Nigeria requires the design and deliberate implementation and funding of a range of policies, which will support, enhance and instigate production, distribution and consumption of made-in-Nigeria goods and services.
  • The Economic Sustainability Plan is also promoting over N1tn in stimulus support to manufacturing and local production at all levels. To support this, the use of made-in-Nigeria is advocated in all public works engagements that will be undertaken in massive road infrastructures and housing works, among others.
  • The CBN has set aside a N432bn fund to support expansion of the Anchor Borrowers Scheme, For such transformation to happen, more deliberate policies, financing, and targeted support of national industrial and manufacturing processes are required, linking agriculture to industry.
  • That the goal should be the implementation of Chapter II of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999), as amended, which provides for the enjoyment of social, economic and cultural rights of the people, anchored on the fundamental interests of the poorest segment of the Nigerian Populace.
  • Any national economic development plan must commit to substantially increase and enhance the quality of public social investment in health, education, housing and other basic social services, towards achieving universal access for all citizens and residents.Nigerians must mobilise to resist and reject Job losses, wage cuts, livelihoods losses.
  • There cannot be any robust economic plan without security of lives and property. Nigeria needs to address the spate of violence across the country.
  • We Call for Memorandum from all the unions in the Educational sector.
  • The Government should invite memoranda from Nigerian health-based unionson how to realise the goal of a heath sector accessible to all and universal access to healthcare.
  • The Government should invite proposals from all stakeholders on housing and basic infrastructure, including the professional, businesses, services, and end users.


The bane of our national development process over the decades has been the associated problems of inequality and corruption with the non-inclusion of citizens in decision making. There is the need for a people-driven equitable and socially inclusive governance.

The Action Program summarisedbelow is needed for the people to survive Covid-19 and beyond. It could easily be funded from oil income, taxation, the return of looted funds and the N5.4tn owed to AMCON.

Key Demands:

  1. Significantly increase government budgets for health, education and water/sanitation in line with international norms. This will save more lives than are lost from Covid-19 and this the easiest way to protect the poor.
  2. End all charges for primary health and education. Cancel all fees for higher education at least until the end of this year.
  3. No job or wage cuts by governments or the private sector.
  4. Ensure that clean water and adequate sanitation are available at all primary school and health facilities.
  5. Schools should only be opened with the agreement of the National Union of Teachers and other relevant trade unions where proper social distancing can be arranged.
  6. The planned expansion of the Social Register should be expanded to include all people existing below the poverty line.
  7. All defaults on rent, electricity and debt repayments should not result in penalties or sanctions.
  8. All households, residential institutions and the homeless must be provided access to safe drinking water, either through public pipe borne water or water tankers, public or private, at government expense.


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