Message from the Chairman
The last few months have presented unprecedented challenges to the U.S.- Nigeria partnership. The United States has become the worst-affected country in the world by coronavirus, with over 3 million confirmed cases. Meanwhile, Nigeria is battling the twin shocks of a global oil price crash and a coronavirus-induced global economic slowdown. The World Bank says the outbreak could push as many as 5 million additional Nigerians into poverty as it triggers the country’s worst recession in over three decades.
Amid much concern surrounding the pandemic, I am heartened to see the Nigerian business community stepping up and utilizing their assets and funds for social good at this critically important time, including several U.S.-Nigeria Council (USNC) members. In March, less than a month after Nigeria’s index case, a group of leading companies launched The Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) in an effort to help the government respond to coronavirus in Nigeria. To date, the coalition has raised more than $72 million in funds to supply medical necessities and food relief across the country.
The government has also responded to exceedingly challenging circumstances with prudent policy measures, passing the Emergency Economic Stimulus Bill 2020 in March to provide much needed support to Nigerian businesses and families. A month later, the government announced transfers of 20,000 Naira to poor and vulnerable households registered in the National Social Register. The Central Bank’s stimulus measures also offer a credit of 3 million Naira ($7,700) to poor families impacted by the pandemic. The Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan, the twelve month 2.3 trillion naira ($5.9 billion) successor of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, that was recently released by the government will also help with economic recovery, doubling down on key sectors including agriculture, infrastructure, and technology.
In June, we were privileged to hear directly from Nigerian Minister for Industry, Trade and Investment His Excellency Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo and U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria The Honorable Mary Beth Leonard about the country’s response to the pandemic and the role of the private sector in public health and economic recovery. At this time of historic upheaval, I was pleased to hear about the various ways the United States is working in tandem with Nigeria to combat the pandemic. The special relationship the United States enjoys with Nigeria is more important now than ever before, and we look forward to working with you to advance U.S.-Nigeria relations through these unparalleled global challenges. My very best wishes to you all during this challenging time.
Regionally in-tune, the Council’s work actively supports Nigeria’s national strategy for economic prosperity and US commercial diplomacy. With the support of key Nigerian political and economic institutions including the Nigerian Sovereign Trust Fund, the Council helps to advance critical trade and investment initiatives by maximizing industrial free trade zones, diversifying exports, integrating agro-investments into global supply chains, and matching energy development to production needs.