Nigeria to slow reopening of economy as recession looms
Kelechi Emekalam
Market shot in Nigeria. Kelechi Emekalam/CGTN

Market shot in Nigeria. Kelechi Emekalam/CGTN

Nigeria recently began easing its six week-long lockdown on three of its major cities, including the Federal Capital Territory – Abuja. But businesses like hairdresser Vicky Somali's – requiring close proximity with customers, still cannot operate.

Vicky's hair dressing business used to rake in an average of 150 U.S. dollars a week. But for nearly two months now her income has been totally cut off due to the coronavirus outbreak.

It had been very tough for her since this coronavirus problem began. She had not made a dime. "I can't keep going on like this otherwise we may die of hunger," she told CGTN.

Now she was even considering calling up some of her customers anyone who wanted home service. She would just make sure protecting herself, using "my face mask and my hand sanitizer," she added.

Several Nigerian businesses have been closed down since the advent of COVID-19.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of the country's economy, accounting for 48 percent of the national GDP, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

From the projections by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Nigeria could face its worst recession in more than three decades. The nation's economy would likely shrink by 3.4 percent, over a period of one year.

Central Bank of Nigeria. Kelechi Emekalam/CGTN

Central Bank of Nigeria. Kelechi Emekalam/CGTN

The COVID-19 pandemic and fall in crude oil prices are blamed for the economic downturn. Nigerian government has set up a committee to evaluate reopening its economy to avert a major crisis already.

Advisers are stuck between the devil and deep blue sea, facing one of the country's worst recessions due to a partial or full lockdown, or being burdened by a rapid rise in cases of COVID-19.

Government maintains that the country is still not ready for full reopening of the economy. Boss Mustapha, secretary to the government, said in a statement, "Tough decisions have to be taken for the good of the greater majority."

Mustapha, who heads the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, said, "We share your pains but our future is in the hands of every Nigerian and future decisions will depend greatly on our compliance."

For now airports remain shut for all commercial flights and several other businesses termed as risky would be closed.