The end of a regime is not the end of a nation, but the beginning of
another government, because Nigeria must continue.
Presidential political power in Nigeria has recently switched hands.
bringing an end to the eight-year-old Buhari regime, but not an end to
what many observers described as the most repressed economy in
Nigeria’s history was riddled with three recessions, soaring
unemployment, and punishing food prices.
However, will the recent power shift alter the economic fortunes of the
citizens? Certainly yes, if judging from antecedents, given that the
The previous average welfare levels of Nigerians were different under
different administrations. For instance, some Nigerians believe they
were better off under the civilian government of Obasanjo than under
Jonathan’s, and better off under Jonathan’s than under Buhari’s. Still,
Those who have lived through the ages will always prefer living in
Generals Gowon and Obasanjo led Nigeria’s golden era:
1970s. However, in years to come, will the current citizens feel better off?
under any post-Buhari regime?
The answer to this question depends on who governs them. If the courts
voided the last presidential election results, and on top of that, screened
out the previous name(s) from the ballot for forthcoming remedial elections,
then Nigerians may expect a different style of leadership and results in
contrast to what they have been through for close to a decade.
Some politicians may lie, but numbers do not lie. There is no question.
that President Buhari inherited, despite the opposition of the majority of Nigerians.
through the ballot in February 2015—an economy far better than the
one he handed over roughly half a year ago. In other words, he took
over an economy that was less battered than the one as of his last day.
in office. In the eyes of many, he was not a good economic physician.
because, instead of steadfastly nursing back to health, a 2015 ‘wounded’
economy, he further bruised it, magnifying the damage. His twin
Economic errors were the floating of the exchange rate and cutting the
supply of forex to legitimate businesses and individuals. These
Miscalculations were not without unintended consequences. Through
the cost-of-living crisis, they have unleashed a wave of economic hardships.
on Nigerians, pushing millions into absolute poverty even as the
country’s mood grows darker.
Not enough. The value of the local currency has depreciated by nearly 400
percent in parallel against the US dollar since 2015. In response, the
The inflation rate has soared into double digits.
In its effort to defend the local currency and clamp down on the black
market on foreign exchange, the Central Bank of Nigeria rationed the
supply of dollars, restricting access to many importers. The policy move
did not pay off, and the currency further depreciated. As a result,
factories that could not obtain dollars to import raw materials and capital
goods shut down and eliminated tens of thousands of jobs. By mid-2016,
The economy had fallen into a recession. This prompted a different
approach to managing the exchange rate.
This time around, after it failed to lean against the wind of popular
In my opinion, the Central Bank allowed the local currency, the naira, to float.
This was a huge policy mistake that exposed the currency.
to speculative attacks, resulting in further depreciation of the value of the
Naira of over 200 percent.
Furthermore, between 2010 and 2014, the GDP per capita grew by
average of 3.6 percent per year but later slipped into a steep downturn:
It was shrinking by an average of 1.6 percent every year between 2015 and 2016.
and 2018. The decade’s average growth was about 0.5 percent. This
implies that the economic gains recorded throughout the first half of the
the decade was almost completely eroded as the decade proceeded.
Foreign direct investment was one of the worst-hit economic indicators.
After peaking in the early last decade, net inflows of FDI plummeted by 167
percent; it declined from 8.84 billion in 2011 to roughly three billion.
dollars in 2021 and then to a negative flow as of last year, the lowest in
42 years. And, in tandem, the average living standards, measured in
terms of GDP per capita, deteriorated by seven percent, with the
The unemployment rate is hitting its highest level in about 50 years, with roughly 35
percent as of 2021, which is equivalent to around 31 million people losing their jobs: the disenchanted youths in a country with the faltering
Mr. Buhari has been shifting the blame for the economic woes on
crashing oil prices and his predecessors, but Nigerians are hurling back
the culpability at his feet, arguing that what matters is not the crash in oil.
prices, but how the president responded to the instability arising from the
The facts on the oil market do not support Mr. Buhari.
Nonetheless, now that Buhari is no longer in power, given the economic
experience of his years in office, what do Nigerians expect from a post-
Buhari government? Two things. First, give Nigerians the pre-Buhari
economic numbers, and second, give them numbers better than pre-
Buhari’s. What were the numbers? These are the facts.
In 2014, a US dollar was exchanged for N169, but in 2021, it slipped to
N435, with the inflation rate within the same period rising from
digits (8 percent) to double digits (17 percent). The same with the
unemployment rate: from 6.4 percent in 2014 to 35 percent as of 2021.
In the same vein, the external debt more than doubled, while the average
living standard (GDP per capita) shaded by $1,126 Can these numbers
be reversed and improved?
What needs to happen to return Nigeria to prosperity?
First, the country needs a legitimate government in power. A legitimate
The people’s will established the government, and as a result, it will
be run for the people. But a government propelled into power by cash
and corruption will only be loyal to money and sleaze at the expense of
most of the people. A legitimate government will not only win the
affection of the people, but it will also be accountable to them. That said,
How do we enthrone a legitimate government? One word: institutions
The National Electoral Commission, the military, and the judiciary
deemed essential, but they cannot be effective in safeguarding and
deepening democracy if they are not independent of the federal
executive branch of government; unfortunately, this is not the case in
Nigeria is a far cry from expectations. The institutions have always been
under the heavy influence of the presidency and therefore politicians and
politics. One of the pieces of evidence in support of this claim is that
Nigerian presidents from 1999 to date have been regionally biased in
their appointments to fill the four most powerful presidential
Appointments in Nigeria: Minister of Justice/Attorney General of Nigeria
AGF, Minister of Finance, Chief of Army Staff, and Inspector General of
To move the nation forward in this regard, both the leaders and the
The governed must not only rise above the partisan fray but also have some
of the presidential powers transferred to the polling booths, yes, to the
people. In such a setting, the governed have more power than those in
power, such that through the power of the ballot, the citizens can punish
bad leaders during elections, swapping them with a fresh set of leaders.
Also, nobody is above the law. If you break the law, the law will break you.
in return. In other words, you are charged, prosecuted, and punished.
according to the law. Finally, the ballot paper is stronger than any
currency. That means election outcomes reflect the wishes of the people.
and not the wishes of godfathers, the superrich, or a few elites. At this
At this juncture, it is important to note that credible elections are peaceful.
means by which bad leaders are replaced and punished. This is one of
the beauties of democracy.