Buhari’s paradox of change

The performance of President Muhammadu’s Buhari one year assuming office has fallen well below the expectations of many Nigerians. It looks like it is going to get worse for ordinary Nigerians before it gets any better.

The economy is in shambles. Manufacturing firms are folding up. Several State Governments are unable to pay workers’ salaries. The country’s stock index is the worst performer in the world since last year, while the Naira has declined 50 percent in the past 18 months to an all-time low.

Economic uncertainty has increased in the world’s largest black nation. The decline in oil export, exacerbated by the activities of pipeline vandals and militants in the Niger Delta region, together with a collapse in the price of oil, have heavily impaired the revenue of Africa’s largest economy.

Just last week, the All Share Index, which is the benchmark index for the Nigerian stock market, dropped further, pushing the average year-to-date return deep into negative at 6.05 per cent. The ASI dropped from its opening index of 28,902.25 points for the week to 27,663.16 points and 26,910.23 points on Tuesday and Wednesday. Stocks of blue chip companies headlined the depreciation as investors grapple with uncertainties in the guided flexible foreign exchange policy announced by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Furthermore, a National Bureau of Statistics first quarter report highlights the dismal state of the Nigerian economy, with a trade deficit of N184.1 billion – the first in seven years. The NBS report titled “Foreign Trade Statistics for the First Quarter of 2016” indicates sharp decline in both import and export activities, with the value of the country’s merchandise trade dropping by as much as 22.6 percent within the first three months of President Buhari’s first full year in office.

What is more, the absence of a clear economic policy by the Federal Government and the administration’s rigidity on foreign exchange policy have led to investors apathy, with foreign direct investment now at its lowest point since the 2007-08 global financial crisis.

Small businesses and manufacturing concerns are groaning over poor public infrastructure and lack of electricity.

Inflation in the country accelerated for a sixth consecutive month in April and at the highest pace since August 2010. The inflation rate rose to 13.7 percent from 12.8 percent the month before. Food inflation rose to an annualized 13.2 percent from 12.7 percent in March. Rising fuel and electricity prices “were the largest contributors,” according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

Hard times are here no doubt with the country soon to enter a recession, according to CBN. And the masses are at the receiving end.

Clearly, President Buhari’s first year in office has not brought about the change many yearn for. Nigerians are gradually losing patience. The Buhari administration must therefore make haste to address macroeconomic issues to reposition the economy and bring succour to the teeming populace.


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