BusinessDay

The President’s legacy: what do the figures say?

Like every other presidential aspirant, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo revealed his plans to contest for Nigeria’s most prestigious electoral position, the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

However, the position of the presidency doesn’t come on a platter of gold as it takes a lot of consultations and convictions to finally emerge as the flag-bearer of any political party.

The vice-president, in his declaration speech, stated that he hopes to contest in the upcoming general elections in order to complete the economic and social reform system, which the present administration has already started – a position which many Nigerian citizens seems to be uncomfortable about as many feels the present administration has not worked enough to justify a re-election, while others feel the declaration intent only exposes the complacent position of the current administration.

It should be noted that in the year 2003, Nigerians were regarded as the happiest people on earth; however, a recent report of the Global Happiness Index says otherwise.

In the latest report, Nigeria has been ranked 118th out of 146 happiest countries in the world while the country also ranked 20 times lower than other African countries.

This might actually be a pointer to the fact that Nigerians actually expect more from its government than the current realities.

If evidence by the media space is anything to go by, it doesn’t seem Nigerians are happier than they were under the previous administrations nor does it appear to conclude that Nigerians have found solace in the administration of ‘change’.

However, judging the administration’s performance should not be determined by mere media circulations or emotional outburst,  rather, an objective approach, which would speak from verified statistical evidence, should actually determine whether the present legacies should actually continue or the government will need to do more to change the narrative.

Poverty: It should be noted that one of the campaign promises of the current administration was to lift 100 million Nigeria out of the shackles of poverty through its social investment programme.

In line with this desire, quite a number of poverty alleviation schemes have been introduced by the current administration, including Tradermoni – a poverty alleviation programme that is aimed at traders through the disbursement of N15,000, school feeding programmes, N-power and the like.

However, it doesn’t appear that the bulk of these interventions have actually achieved their objectives. For instance, in June 2018, Nigeria got tagged as the world poverty capital after a research by the World Poverty Clock (WPC) revealed that about 100 million of its total populace still remain extremely poor.

The research report of the World Bank also revealed that over 45 percent of the Nigerian populace will live in extreme poverty by the year 2022.

Meanwhile, a new report by the WPC recently revealed that India has overtaken Nigeria as the country with the poorest populace while Nigeria came second after the total number of its populace who are poor reduced from 100 million to about 71 million, which represented 33 percent of its total population.

However, despite this development, it appears that not much has changed in its Human Development Index of 0.539, which implies that beyond the usual rhetoric of cash disbursement, Nigeria will need to invest more in job creation, security guarantee, improving education and health care access and improving Nigeria’s economic opportunities.

Public debt: The issue of Nigeria’s worrisome debt amidst rising rate of unemployment and poverty has repeatedly garnered more clamour for the diversification of Nigeria’s economic base in recent times.

According to a research by BudgIT, Nigeria’s external debt increased from a growth rate of 15.19 percent in 2012 to 65.82 percent in the year 2017 while a recent projection by the International Monetary Fund recently projected that Nigeria could end up spending 92.6 percent of its revenue on servicing debt as the country’s debt sustainability continues to be at risk.

In 2021, Nigeria’s debt service to revenue ratio stood at 97 percent, which implies that the larger share of revenue earned by the country is being gulped by debt servicing.

A report by Statista revealed that Nigeria’s debt-to-GDP ratio increased from 23.41 percent in 2016 to 35.71 percent in 2021 while the figure might rise to 42.2 percent by 2026 should the current trajectory continues.

An analysis of Nigeria’s debt figures based on the Debt Management Office’s report reveals that Nigeria’s debt profile has risen by more than two times since the administration took over.

Bearing in mind that one of the campaign promises of the present administration is to bring the much-desired change through fiscal restructuring, no evidence points to the fact that the restructuring promise has actually been fulfilled, as a recent report by Fitch Ratings, the world’s leading credit agency, has projected that by 2022, Nigeria’s debt-to-revenue ratio will rise to 395 percent as Nigeria continues to deal with major economic issues such as high level of indebtedness to developed financial markets, weal fiscal revenue, comparatively low governance and development.

GDP: The sharp and continuous decline in crude oil prices since mid-2014 led to a recession in the second quarter of 2016. This was attributed to the slow economic growth in China (the largest importer of crude oil in the world) and the advent of shale oil in the US, which used to be one of the largest buyers of Nigerian crude oil.

Also, with a growth decline of 3.6 percent, the country entered another recession in 2020 due to the fall in global demand for crude oil.

The economic recession of 2020 was the country’s worst recession since 1983, according to the World Bank. For instance, between 2011 and 2020, Nigeria’s GDP per capita fell to a negative figure of -1.79 percent from 5.31 percent in 2011.

Presently, Nigeria’s GDP is projected to have a growth rate of about 2.7 percent from its 2.4 percent growth rate in 2021 while another media report added that Nigeria’s GDP growth rate of 3.4 percent in 2021 has been the fastest growth rate recorded in the last seven years.

However, even after Nigeria’s recovery from the recessive period, its GDP figures have not really reflected that much has changed as far as its growth trajectory is concerned as its growth impact has not reflected in the living standards of its people.

Security: One of the paramount reasons why Nigerians voted out the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan was on the basis of rising insecurity.

Considering the fact that President Muhammadu Buhari was an army general, Nigerians expected better from the campaign promises of the administration that promised to ‘lead from the front’.

It should be noted that beforehand, the sad tale of insurgency mainly occurred in the north-eastern part of the country; however, since 2017, what appeared to be a north-eastern war gradually spread its tentacles to the north-western and north-central parts of the country while several cases of kidnap and ethnic clashes have also been reported in other parts of Nigeria.

Despite the claim of the Nigerian government to be winning the war against terrorism and insecurity, statistical evidences provided by credible reports says otherwise. For instance, a report by the World Population Review ranked Nigeria as one of the most dangerous countries in the world.

Read also: SA, Egypt eye Nigeria’s crown as GDP gap narrows

According to a Reuters report, as of 2020, Nigeria lost about 350,000 people to the insurgency, a figure which is estimated to be 10 times greater than what it was when it started 13 years ago. The Global Terrorism Index reveals that Nigeria is the third most terrorised country in the world behind Afghanistan and Iraq while a security report published by Forbes also reported that “topping the list of the most dangerous places to live is Brazil, with South Africa coming in as the second-worst place, followed by Nigeria.”

FDI: As at 2013, Nigeria used to be the number-one investment destination as foreigners from all over the world were willing to take advantage of the country’s thriving business environment and huge population base, which will be a major indicator of a good market base. Currently, three African countries, namely Egypt, Ghana and Congo, all of which have comparatively smaller economies, have higher FDI inflow rankings than Nigeria.

However, recent research evidence revealed that Nigeria is not one of the top 10 industrial destinations in Africa. The reason behind this can be attributed to so many factors such as low level of human capital development, infrastructural decay, inadequate funding, increased bottlenecks and bureaucracies in business establishments, usage of crude technology; insecurity amongst many others.

Infrastructure: Looking away from the negatives, one giant stride that deserves to be recognised is the infrastructural drive of the current administration as the government has not only been rehabilitating old infrastructures but also constructing new ones.

It should be noted that prior to 2015, Nigeria’s infrastructural index stood at 20.45 while the figure stood at 23.27 in 2020 which shows only a 2.82 percent change over the six years period. Some of the multibillion-naira projects the country has invested in are: the Mambilla power project, which took more than 40 years under previous administrations; the Lekki Deep Sea Port; the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway; Lagos-Ibadan railway; and the World Trade Center, among many others.

A report by the Borgen Project revealed that these heavy investments will significantly help Nigeria by enabling rapid economic progress.

However, despite the progress made, a research report by Statista in 2021 ranked Nigeria 24th in its Africa Infrastructure Development Index, which means Nigeria still has a long way to go to cover up its infrastructural deficit.

Apart from the issue of rising insecurity, which plagued the previous administration, one major reason why Nigerians voted massively for the administration of ‘change’ was to salvage its economy from an imminent collapse, to which the president declared in its campaign declarations to “hit the ground running”.

However, it doesn’t seem that much of the campaign promises have been fulfilled. Many factors such as the global fall in crude oil price, which led to two major periods of economic recessions, the coronavirus pandemic and claims of embezzlement of public funds by previous administrations, have been given as part of the reasons why Nigeria has not witnessed the much-expected growth.

However, one of the campaign promises of the present administration was to diversify Nigeria’s economy and to restructure the economy in order to win the fight against corruption; therefore, there should be no excuse for poor performance. With Nigeria’s fast-approaching 2023 election, a last-ditch effort that can change this narrative will be to relax some of the stringent conservative policies while embracing creative and innovative ideas that will bring a transformed and restructured system.

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.