Hoping the next level is not more difficult than the last one

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The first level of the democratic Buhari administration ended last week. To say it was difficult will be putting it lightly. We saw real economic growth drop from 3.6 percent a year into recession, shrinking by over two percent at its worst. The economy has somewhat recovered from those depths, but the current two percent growth is nothing to write home about. Especially given that our population is growing at around 2.7 percent a year implying that on average, Nigerians have been getting poorer since 2015. This is even before you start to talk about inequality.

The unemployment numbers have been even worse. The unemployment rate increased from just over eight percent when Buhari took to over 23 percent the last time we measured it in 2018. The result is that more people have probably been thrown into poverty, but we can’t say for sure because we haven’t officially measured it in over a decade. Maybe we are scared of what we may find.

 

On the macroeconomic stability front things haven’t been good either. No one needs a reminder of the foreign exchange crisis that gripped the nation while the central bank was playing demand management games. Inflation shot up from under nine percent in mid-2015 to a peak of over 18 percent before dropping to the 11 percent range it is now. Still some way from the central bank’s target of a single digit inflation rate. Many other problems persist. Bank lending has refused to grow. Foreign direct investment has not recovered back to what it was in 2014. The federal government’s finances are in a big mess and debt has piled up so high that servicing the debt now takes up roughly 60 percent of all federal government revenue. As a result, … Read More...

Next Level: Anxiety grows over Buhari’s direction

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All eyes are on President Muhammadu Buhari to begin to deliver on his election promises that will take Nigeria to the next level. But early signs appear to dampen morale and create apprehension in the polity that the next four years may not hold any hope for the long-suffering Nigerians, after all.

President Buhari was sworn in on Wednesday, May 29, 2019 for a second term of four years. Against all expectations, he did not unfold a new programme for the new administration. Observers have said the President’s action was ominous.

“The fact that the President did not even think that it is wrong not to give a speech at that momentous occasion shows what the country is up against,” an analyst who craved anonymity said.

Some observers also described the President’s silence as the height of insensitivity to Nigerians. Again, the President’s visit to Saudi Arabia, a day after his swearing-in for the Summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), has given rise to different conspiracy theories.

One of such theories is that the President did not want to lay out his second term plans to Nigerians until his consultation with the OIC.

A source in the Presidency who is familiar with the matter, said: “OIC’s main agenda is to get the Islamic countries to take a common stand on world issues. I think the President needs to be guided on that before unveiling his plans in detail”.

Taiye Odewale, an author and political analyst, said the President’s silence portends ominous signs of what Nigerians should expect in the next four years.

“I have never heard it in any part of the world where a President is sworn-in and he has nothing to say to citizens of his country. Whether the ceremony was … Read More...