New Telegraph

Agony Over Buhari’s Bad Economic Legacy

In this analysis, ABDULWAHAB ISA, reflects on the recent reminiscence of the Tinubu administration on the kind of economy inherited from the Muhammadu Buhari administration and its impact on governance

The immediate past government headed by former president Muhammadu Buhari left behind a ruinous economy. Every indices for gauging a healthy and prosperous nation collapsed outright under his watch, leaving a one-time three-star Army General and a former Head of State watched helplessly as the economy of the largest Africa continent plunged deeper.

It should be established that, Buhari was also a victim of what he bequeathed to his successor President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on 29th May, 2023. His immediate predecessor, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, similarly passed off to him a weakened economy 29th May, 2015. Jonathan departed the ‘presidential throne’ leaving the economy in a parlous state. Nigerians invested hope of economy re-birth in the capacity of former Military president, Muhammadu Buhari. In their naivety, Nigerians saw Buhari as the savior of a sagging economy.

Economy outlook under Buhari

Under former president Muhammadu Buhari watch, Nigeria’s total debt stock accelerated in a space of eight years. From $63.81 billion in 2015, Nigeria’s debt rose to N46.25 trillion as of December 31,2022. The figure excluded over N22 trillion Ways and Means advances by the Cen- tral Bank of Nigeria. Buhari utilized most of the procured loans to upgrade the ailing road and rail infrastructure, building a new port in Lagos, completing a crucial bridge in the South-East amongst others.

About 80 percent of Nigeria’s earnings were devoted to debt service. On many occasions Nigerians, Analysts were dismayed and had expressed concern about the government pen- chant for unrestrained borrowing. The immediate president left a legacy of debt which almost doubled from 18 to 35 per cent of GDP. He leaves inflation at 22.4percent, with 133 million Nigerians in poverty and insecurity at its worsening level.

Falling off gloves

Pretenses over. The election had been won and lost with arising disputes being handled at tribunal. The gloves are coming off. Faced with the stark reality of economic mess, front line leaders in President Bola Ahmed Tinubu government are reminiscing on bad economy passed off to the current administration by the immediate president, Muhammad Buhari of the same All Progressives Congress (APC). In the build up to the 2023 presidential campaign, Tinubu a candidate flying APC presidential flag; one whose endorsement scaled through layers of turbulent hurdles mounted by his inner circle party members cleverly avoid speaking to the ruins of economy by his party under the watch of sitting president he aspired to succeed.

Cleverly, former Lagos state governor side stepped Buhari misdeeds as campaign talking points during presidential campaign session. Seated as Nigeria’s president, with the reality of a frail economy in ruinous state confronting him, Tinubu and his men have come to the naked reality of the state of economy. His inner circle men are speaking out, starting off, initially in husky tone now being raised enough to attract attention. The senator representing the Edo North Senatorial District and former Edo state governor, Adams Oshiomhole was first to speak out on the state of economy inherited by Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Speaking during an interview with journalists shortly after his meeting with the Vice President, Senator Kashim Shettima, behind closed doors at the Presidential Villa in mid-August, Adams during the heat generated by fuel subsidy removal, said President Bola Tinubu inherited a terrible economic situation from the past administration. The former All Progressives Congress Chairman also noted that some of the decisions taken by President Tinubu’s administration were the first steps toward revamping the economy.

“The government inherited a terrible economic situation, everybody knows it. The government inherited an economy in which the total national revenue was barely enough to service our debt burden. Spending 96 percent; which is to say every N170 Nigeria earns, ninety-six kobo is to pay debt” While the former Edo state governor expressed confidence that issues arising from the removal of fuel subsidy will be quickly resolved, he said Tinubu recognises the impact the withdrawal of fuel subsidy is having on Nigerians and is determined to take immediate action to cushion it.

Oshiomhole’s was amplified recently by Vice President Kashim Shettima. Former governor of Borno state who spoke when he received in audience members of the Presidential Committee on Fiscal Policy and Tax Reforms led by the chairman, Mr. Taiwo Oyedele, at State House, Abuja declared that Nigeria’s economy was in a big mess chained by poor governance. Shettima, who spoke on Monday, when he received in audience members of the Presidential Committee on Fiscal Policy and Tax Reforms led by the chairman, Mr. Taiwo Oyedele, at State House, Abuja, expressed optimism that his principal, Bola Tinubu would tackle.

Asking the committee to come up with a roadmap that would transform the economy and take the country out of the woods, former governor of Borno State, said fiscal policy and tax reforms were a potent tool for resource mobilisation. He charged the committee to make recommendations that would be quick deliverables in view of the current economic realities. “The task before you is enormous; I believe you have the best brains to come up with a robust roadmap that will reposition our economy, addressing some of the fundamental issues underlying our fiscal and tax policies.

Fiscal and tax policies are key to the realisation of any nation’s economic development. Wale Edun is a high-ranking cabinet, Minister who heads the Finance and coordinating minister of the economy. He voiced out a similar verdict recently. Speaking recently with house Correspondents at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, Edun said the Federal government had no intention to borrow from any local or foreign organization. Edun said the benefits of petrol subsidy removal would be plowed back into various sectors in order to boost government revenue and improve the business environment.

“Clearly, the Federal Government is not in a position to borrow at this time. Rather, the emphasis has to be on creating a stable, macroeconomic environment. Stable inflation, stable exchange rate, an environment within which people can come and invest and thereby increase production and further grow the economy. Improve and create jobs and reduce poverty,” he said. Edun said the President Bola Tinubu-led administration inherited a “bad” economy with an unacceptable high rate of unemployment and inflation.

“Per capita has fallen steadily, inflation is at 24 percent, unemployment is high, you know they are rebasing the way in which it’s calculated. Either way, it is high and youth unemployment is even unacceptably high. These are the key metrics that we have met,” he said. “We met a bad economy and the promise of Mr. President is to make it better”, he said.

Expert’s take:

Gabriel Idakolo is a finance and wealth creation Expert and a regular commentator on Nigeria’s economic issues. He attested to the fact that the former president left behind a damaged economy. He spoke with Sunday Telegraph in Abuja. “At the twilight of the Buhari administration, Nigeria was using over 90 percent of its revenue for debt servicing. It was also recently discovered that the CBN has used a sizable portion of our foreign reserves to secure a loan facility from J P Morgan, with all these revelations and more it is enough for the top brass of the Tinubu administration to lament.

The economy the past administration left behind was in a sorry state. The appreciation of our present circumstances will serve as a good starting point for this government. The new government must quickly start implementing policies that can help the economy to bounce back”, he said.

 

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