It is axiomatic that the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has failed us. It is poignant and most unfortunate, just to say the least, that this Government has become so insensitive and thoughtless to the plight of the ordinary Nigerians. It is glaring that the Government of the day does not care about the survival of the poor masses neither does it value the lives of its citizens. If Mr. President has forgotten, may we remind him that riding the crest of ‘change’ and ‘next level’ mantras into his first and second administrations, he made significant promises to the Nigerian population, presenting the dividends the country stands to gain through his leadership.
When the presidential campaign of the All Progressives Congress, APC, was formally inaugurated in January 2015, then candidate Muhammadu Buhari promised to tackle corruption and insecurity, and develop the economy. Mr Muhammadu Buhari, a former military head of state, told members of the party at the Adokiye Amasiemeka Stadium in Port Harcourt, capital of Rivers State, that he would pick competent hands to run the nation’s economy, which he said was in poor shape. In his words, he said thus:
“The fundamental issue facing this country is insecurity and the problem of economy which was being made worse by corruption. I assure you that we are going to finally assemble a competent team of Nigerians to efficiently manage the country. I am appealing to you, the damage done to this country is great. The level of unemployment, level of insecurity is intolerable. The journey has begun. It will take time, it will take patience, it will take support from you to make sure that we succeed. Let us make sure that our votes count. The problem we are facing today is the problem of security and economy. We have gathered competent hands to manage the economy and tackle insecurity”.
This year 2021, marked six years since Mr Buhari took power as Nigeria’s president, after defeating former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015 and winning re-election in 2019. He has just less than two years left to complete two maximum four-year terms. His six-year reign as president has seen the nation wriggle through numerous economic challenges, with inflation and unemployment at worse levels than he met them.
On the economy front that he made several promises, it is regrettable, just to say the least, that President Buhari has only succeeded in ruining the once robust economy handed over to him by the last administration in 2015 and has turned Nigeria into an unenviable poverty capital of the world, where over 82.9 million once-thriving Nigerians can no longer afford their daily meals and other necessities of life.
The worst of it all is that, Mr. President feels his administration is doing well. His positive assessment of his own performance during a recent ministerial retreat shows that the President believes he has not reneged on his promises on security, the economy and improving the overall quality of citizens’ lives by lifting millions out of poverty.
Such a self-assessment begs certain questions: could this stance be a political pretence or stem from a genuine insensitivity to the plights of the citizens? With half a decade gone under his administration, are things really getting better for Nigerians under his administration? On a comprehensive note and for the purpose of clarity, how has the economy performed under this administration? If Mr. President is still daydreaming, below are his “achievement” or what he has turned Nigeria into in this past six years of his administration:
1. From the report release by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group on September, 2021, it was reported that the Nigeria’s Year-on-Year real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) expanded by 5% in 2021 2nd Quarter. This was mainly due to the base effect following the implementation of lockdown and restriction in 2020 2nd Quarter. The report also stated that in the third and fourth Quarters of 2021, the base effects is expected to fade, which will make Nigeria’s GDP growth to be lower. Quarter-on-Quarter real GDP suggests a 0.79% decline in 2021 2nd Quarter.
A new World Bank report says that Nigeria under President Muhammadu Buhari will lose the economic gains it made in the last decade at the end of 2021. “By the end of 2021, Nigeria’s GDP is likely to approach its 2010 level, thus reversing a full decade of economic growth”. This World Bank reports implies that President Buhari since assuming office in 2015, has failed to positively impact the country’s economy which had suffered two record breaking recessions under his watch.
2. The Nigerian Economic Summit Group report also shows that the total foreign investment inflows into Nigeria remain low. Investment inflows was US$875 Million in 2021 2nd Quarter which was recorded as the lowest quarterly inflows since 2016 1st Quarter. Also, Nigeria’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflow into Nigeria has revolved around US$1.0 billion in the last five years. However, FDI inflow in 2021 2nd Quarter was US$78 million, which was even lower than 2020 2nd Quarter.
3. The exchange rate depreciation continues despite increasing CBN’s FX interventions. The foreign exchange market continues to witness supply shortage to meet its demand. Consequently, the gap between the various markets keeps expanding. As of July 2021, we now have exchange gap of N99 from N92 in June as CBN stop sales of forex to Bureau de Change Operators. Also, as of July 2021, interbank and parallel rates have depreciated by 6.27% and 6.67% year to date. It was also reported that foreign exchange pressure will continue into H2- 2021 owing to limited inflows from both crude and non-oil sources, rising imports and a backlog of foreign currency demand. As of today, the exchange rate is N560 per US$1 dollar and the devastating effect of same on economy of our nation cannot even be fathom, yet this administration does not care.
4. Our External Reserves trended upwards and currently at US$34.2 billion as of 2nd September, following higher oil prices. The report also states factors that will continue to weaken External Reserves to include but not limited to weaker foreign investment inflows, high demands for foreign currency to finance imports and other needs and possible clearance for FX backlogs.
5. Inflation rate stood at 17.38% in July 2021 from 16.5% in Jan 2021 and food inflation at 21.03%. In February, 2021, the Premium Times Newspaper reported that Nigeria’s food inflation rose to the highest level since 2008, a somber illustration of the crisis the nation’s food sector has faced, with millions of poor citizens struggling daily to buy food at exorbitant rates.
6. Social resilience has also deteriorated further with misery index at 51.2% in May 2021 from 49.8% in Jan 2021 and youth unemployment at 45%, the highest in at least 13 years and the second highest rate in the world. Interestingly, a key element of your campaign mantra in 2015 was job creation, but this is where we are. When the administration took over power in the second quarter of 2015, unemployment rate rose to 9.9% in the third quarter of that year from 8.2% in the second quarter, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). Between May 2015 and September 2021, Nigeria’s unemployment rate has more than tripled. World Bank estimates that additional 7 million Nigerians have been pushed into poverty in 2020 due to falling purchasing power. This makes the total number of poor people to be 90 million from 82.9 million in 2019. “Congratulations” Mr. President
7. From Jan to May 2021 actual fiscal deficit was N3.01 trillion (53.8% of total budgeted deficit for 2021) while overall expenditure has grown by 102% from N5 trillion to N10.1 trillion between 2015 and 2020 revenue increased by just 15%.
8. Nigeria’s public debt stood at N33.1 trillion as at March 2021 according to figures from the Debt Management Office (DMO). And just sometime this week, Mr. President is still seeking the approval of the National Assembly to borrow additional N2.5 trillion to fund projects captured under the 2018 – 2021 borrowing projects. May we also remind Mr. President that if this loan is approved, the country’s documented national debts will balloon to over N35 trillion with no clear-cut of repayment plan. Furthermore, when Ways and Means, AMCON liabilities and projected fiscal deficit for 2021 are considered, total debts is expected to increase to about N54 trillion in 2021. Nigeria’s debt/GDP at 35% appears comfortable, however, debt service to revenue at 97.7% (Jan to May 2021) suggests Nigeria’s debt is already unsustainable.
Mr. President, just as the legendary song writer, Mr. Sonny Okosun sang in 1983 “Which way Nigeria”, today we ask you Mr. President, which way do you want Nigeria to go? A robust economy you promised us is in a state of quagmire today with no hope of tomorrow. Mr. President, the economy you think is flourishing is failing and crumbling under your watch and we, Nigerians can no longer keep calm. History will remember you as the worst President Nigeria has ever produced, a President who is insensitive and thoughtless to the plight and suffering of its citizens. Our National patrimony and collective wealth has been mortgaged under your administration. It is glaring that Nigerians will not have a nation we can call our own after your administration which is just less than two years.
For Nigeria to move forward as a country, the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration should look into developing both private sector and small businesses. These initiatives create the condition for economic growth. The government need not be deceived on the right solutions to Nigeria’s economic recession. These solutions would be valuable in shaping the economic direction and also tackle the problems of unemployment in Nigeria.
We can also recover from the current economic crisis if government diversifies the economy and repairs the refineries so that the impact of the drop in crude oil prices which is having a toll on the economy will be cushioned. It is up to the government to act and respond appropriately.
Nigeria in recent times has witnessed an unprecedented level of insecurity. We can boldly say that Nigeria is facing its major security nightmare lately. Nigerians are living in perpetual fear of not knowing if they will be the next that will be attacked or kidnapped. Adequate security will put more confidence in the mind of investors and even tourist that want to invest in the country. Therefore the government should increase security in the country.
The issue of absence of profitable job for our young people should likewise be tended to. An unmoving personality they say is the fallen angel’s workshop. Unemployed young people are perilous species as they can be controlled by deceitful components and used to do accursed acts. Creation of jobs will thusly help our economy to develop.
Nigeria should also look at implementation of the right monetary policy. For the Nigeria budget to stimulate economic growth, it must be backed up with the right monetary policy and it is pertinent to point out that so long as Nigeria continues to depend on oil exports for the bulk of its revenue, the value of the naira will continue to affect the price of oil, so there is the obvious need to diversify the economy. One of the ways out is to create the enabling environment for the productive sector to thrive.
The agricultural sector must be developed for us to be able to produce goods and have agro-based industry as well as have enough to feed and to export. There is also the need to harmonize the fiscal policy and the monetary policy before the value of the naira can be determined. It is crystal clear that Nigeria is in a deteriorating financial condition, so it needs fiscal and monetary policies to actually stabilize the situation for us to have a recovery.
In conclusion, we hope that President Buhari’s administration listens to the yearning of the masses, check its excesses and stop all forms of corruption going on under its nose. IN AN UNJUST SOCIETY, SILENT IS A CRIME.
God bless Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Sen. Dino Melaye.