The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari easily comes across as a man with a strong intent at curbing the various ills that have somehow colluded to prevent Nigeria from achieving its very obvious potentials as a Nation. Where other leaders prefer to play safe, President Buhari was more anxious than the average Nigerian citizen to declare his assets when he was elected to rule the most populous country in Africa. He deputy was boxed in morally and simply had to tow the line, even though he had the right to refuse.
It took the President a record long time to decide on his cabinet, simply because he wanted to ensure that only people with clean hands were brought on.
The fight against corruption started immediately the President was sworn in, and the country has witnessed quite a few high profile arrests ever since.
The other major fight – against terrorism – was escalated to the extent that some of the abducted Chibok girls were rescued and North Eastern Nigeria safe to visit once again.
It is however ironic that despite these laudable efforts, so many Nigerians appear to have become a shade less excited about their government. Somewhere along the line the word ‘recession’ returned to the Naija lexicon – something unheard for over two decades, even when life was not necessarily paradise for the citizens.
In my opinion, the present state of things is an inescapable consequence of the thoroughness of the President. Any effort to repair an economy that has for decades operated with so much weaknesses and distortions, in structure and in execution, was always bound to have some immediate painful consequences. Someone tried to paint the picture of a new Nigeria with 24 hour electricity, and one of the fallouts was a sharp drop in business patronage for the generator barons who have for over 3 decades flooded the Nigerian market with generating sets imported, using their ‘exclusive’ distribution licenses with the manufacturers in Asia. The Nigerian economy has become so much reliant on imported produce that its primary industry has virtually collapsed.
I personally believe that President Buhari has a good and clear idea of the way the Nigerian economy should be. Unfortunately, it took his government and Ministers a rather long time to settle in and draw up a working plan that tallied with the President’s vision. The medium term plan that Minister of National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma rolled out in 2015/2016 was a great document which will still come good. The first year of execution was however a muddle. The Central Bank, transiting between two largely different leadership philosophies, made a few fundamental initial blunders too. All these combined to ensure that the 2016 budget achieved little, the Naira became weaker, and the hard life became even harder for the average citizen
The good news is that it is just a passing phase, with the good times already about to return. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) which announced the recession in 2016 have now told Nigerians that recession is over and Nigeria is back in the growth trajectory. Inflation has been gradually abating while, externally, the price of Nigeria’s Bonny Light crude has almost doubled from what it was when the President was in 2016.
The best news about the Nigerian economy, and probably the strongest indicator yet that the country faces an imminent growth explosion, was the announcement by the Cable News Network (CNN) that the Nigerian Stock Market which hitherto had suffered a huge slump since the meltdown of 2008, had rebounded to the point where it was adjudged the best performing in Africa and third best in the entire world for the outgoing trading year, 2017. On a monthly assessment in January, we were no. 1 in the world.
I’m sure the average Nigerian would have ignored that piece of news, but anyone who knows how market economies work will understand the critical importance of the capital market to a country’s economic growth and development. The fundamental reasons Nigeria’s economy has not lived up to its potential are; first, the abject state of infrastructure, and second, the low development of its capital market. Of course rampant corruption has played its part as well. The good news again, is that real steps are on course to address these issues.
The Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari has taken the boldest step ever by any government, to resolve the massive infrastructural deficit of the country. This is amply demonstrated in the budget where, unlike the past, as much as a quarter of planned expenditure is reserved for infrastructural development. This is supported , from the private sector end, by the Infrastructure Bond floated just last year by the invest firm, Chapel Hill Denham and other laudable initiatives.
To take the Nigerian Capital Market, of which the Stock Market is a critical part, to world class level, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 2015 launched the Nigerian Capital Market Mastereplan, a thoroughly detailed working document which lays a roadmap for making the Nigerian Capital Market one of the most impacting in the world by the year 2025. The Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS) is spearheading the Market Literacy section of that plan, and I will be paying substantial attention to their efforts in elevating the level of skill development the capital market and general financial literacy in the Nigerian society. Stay with us and let’s navigate this interesting journey together.
My conclusion is thus that, the beginning was rather rough for buharinomics, but the end may still turn out to be worthy of applause if the government continues to address its earlier mistakes while working with a cohesive spirit that places the welfare of the common citizen as the central focus of policy making.
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