Abuja — The World Trade Organization’s director-general said on Tuesday she discussed measures, including support from the agency, with Nigerian President Bola Tinubu that could help cushion the impact of ending a subsidy on petrol that has increased the cost of living in Africa’s largest economy.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who is on a private visit to her home country, said talks focussed on immediate community programs to create jobs for young people and women “who are those bearing the brunt” and long-term opportunities that Nigeria can seize, including investment in the pharmaceutical industry.
“We are already working in Nigeria with women in particular, who own small and medium enterprises, to try to help them upgrade the quality of their products, whether it’s in agricultural, textiles, and in other areas so that they can sell more internationally,” she told reporters in Abuja, the capital.
“We are going to try to do the most we can to support Nigerians at this particular time,” she said.
Since being sworn into office on May 29, Tinubu has embarked on the country’s boldest reforms in decades, scrapping the popular but expensive subsidy, which cost $10 billion last year, and relaxing foreign exchange regime.
Tinubu, who is under pressure as prices soar following his reform agenda, has defended his decision saying Nigeria has saved over 1 trillion naira ($1.31 billion) in just over two months since reforms were started.
($1 = 761.4400 naira)
*Felix Onuah; Elisha Bala-Gbogbo; editing: Jonathan Oatis – Reuters