Nigeria’s economy is unhealthy at the moment. It is in critical condition and the symptoms are clearly manifested in high inflation rate, downward slide in the value of the naira against major currencies, massive job cuts and consequent high rate of unemployment leading to more Nigerians being downgraded to living conditions that are below the poverty thresh-hold of two dollars a day. This condition was long time coming. The previous administrations made some modest progress in the economy between 1999 and 2015 but failed woefully in two critical sectors; provision of adequate power and energy infrastructure- without which our economic foundation was faulty because it was built on quick sand. The failure of the previous administrations to achieve self-sufficiency in power generation and distribution is a major set-back in our quest at import substation-industrialisation. Nigeria’s power generation stands at maximum of 5000 megawatts leaving a deficit of 100,000 megawatts, after several years of multi-billion dollars’ massive investments, it is one of the biggest and unforgivable failures of the past PDP governments. Another critical issue, is that of perennial energy crisis. That Nigeria cannot refine its own daily need of petroleum and process its petro-chemical needs, because of poor infrastructure in the petroleum industry after 16 years, is a major blight on the economic legacy of the past PDP administrations. For all of these short-comings, the PDP was voted out of power and APC’s Muhammadu Buhari was elected in the historic 2015 elections.
The APC promised CHANGE and Nigerians eagerly embraced the party. This grand political coalition, first of its kind in Nigeria’s political history, was helped a great deal by the internal wrangling within the then ruling PDP arising from Goodluck Jonathan’s violation of the zoning arrangement, which oscillates power between the north and south every eight years. Secondly, the reputation of Muhammadu Buhari, the party’s presidential flag bearer was solid in integrity and incorruptibility; two qualities that were generally believed to be solution to Nigeria’s corruption-induced socio-economic problems. 15 months after coming to power, Muhammad Buhari appears overwhelmed and clearly unable to tackle the many economic challenges confronting our dear country. His numerous policy initiatives are shallow and reactionary which seeks to address symptoms rather than causes thereby leaving the problem unsolved.
Under this administration, the economy has slipped into a recession with negative GDP growth rate of -0.36 percent in the first quarter of 2016, a considerable decline from the 2.11 percent growth rate of fourth quarter of 2015. By the second quarter, no growth was recorded. This situation has effectively shrunk the Nigerian economy from a near 500-billion-dollar economy, the largest in Africa to about 420 billion dollars, second behind south Africa. The value of the naira has depreciated over 200 percent from 197 to 410 in just 15 months. Inflation rate stood at all-time high of 15.4 percent as at June this year. Rather than moving our country to greater progress and prosperity, the modest economic gains of the previous administrations have been practically eroded. The failure of the Buhari administration to put in place workable policies to resuscitate the ailing economy, has clearly shown that it takes much more than integrity and incorruptibility to successfully lead a nation. It takes knowledge and wisdom-two qualities that have never been ascribed to President Muhammadu Buhari by friends and foes alike. It takes knowledge and wisdom to channel your integrity and incorruptibility positively for the common good of your country men. As a matter of fact, a shadow of doubt is cast upon the integrity and incorruptibility credentials of the president, because of his string of broken promises and clear sectionalism; which is the root of corruption. Nigerian’s were too engrossed with the obsession to kick out Goodluck Jonathan, without realising the fact that the campaign promises of Buhari were hinged on three ambiguous words; “kwaraption, ekwanamy and skurity”, mere rhetoric without a detailed explanation of the “how” “when” and “where” deliverables.
The latest policy initiative of the Buhari administration is called “diversification of the economy”. A clear misnomer, because Nigeria’s economy is already diversified. Contrary to the opinion of the government, the biggest contributor to the GDP is the services sector [54.6 percent] followed by industrial sector which includes a significant presence of oil and gas activities [25.7 percent] and lastly agriculture sector [17.8 percent]. That crude oil is the major forex earner for Nigeria does not mean that Nigeria’s economy is not diversified. The challenge here is that our local industries and service providers are not competitive in the international market place for reasons of high cost of production arising from poor infrastructure in power and energy sector and other unfavourable government policies which don’t help to promote and build local industrial capacity. Regrettably, nothing significant is being done in the direction to achieving sustainable economic recovery with growth and development. The 2016 budget does not indicate radical move towards solidifying our modestly diversified economy. For example, a meagre sum of 47 billion naira, was allocated to agriculture ministry, an amount representing 1.25 percent of the total budget. Solid mineral got an abysmal capital vote of 7.3 billion naira only.