As President Muhammadu Buhari begins to wind down his first term of office and prepares for his second tenure, Nigerians have begun to set agenda for him, listing the economy as what they say should be his priority.
Many Nigerians THISDAY spoke to said they expect the president to pay greater attention to reset the economy.
This is more important considering that an economy that was growing at an average annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rate of about six per cent, prior to when the president was elected in 2015, has continued to totter, as it managed to achieve 1.93 per cent annual growth rate in 2018, after slipping into recession in 2016.
More worrisome is the fact that Nigeria’s population growth rate of about 2.7 per cent has completely overtaken economic growth, which has dire consequences on standard of living and allocation of resources in the country.
In fact, the president has to be worried that GDP per capita, i.e. the average income per person for a country that is the largest economy in Africa, in 2018 was estimated at about $2,050 whereas that for South Africa is about $7,500.
Another matter that should worry Buhari in his second term, they say, is the rising unemployment rate in the country as well as rising incidence of poverty in Nigeria.
The country’s unemployment rate had worsened in the third quarter of 2018 as it rose from 18.8 per cent in third quarter 2017, to 23.1 per cent in the third quarter of 2018, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) had revealed.
According to the NBS, the total number of people classified as unemployed, which means they did nothing at all or worked for a few hours (under 20 hours a week) rose from 17.6 million in Q4 2017 to 20.9 million in Q3 2018.
Buhari, according to THISDAY respondents, should also be more worried that over 91 million Nigerians, mostly, those who voted for him, now live in extreme poverty, according to a recent report. Today, at least three million Nigerians have slipped into extreme poverty between November 2018 and February 2019, according to the World Poverty Clock, created by Vienna-based World Data Lab.
In addition, they say, the president would be eternally remembered if he can resolve Nigeria’s perennial electricity challenges, which is a major hindrance to businesses flourishing, even as Nigerians look forward to policies that would genuinely drive the country’s quest for economic diversification, with a concrete path to a post-oil Nigeria.
“He must strive to create conducive environment for innovation to thrive,” One of the respondents said firmly.
According to them, all these can be achieved if the president can do away with some current members of his economic management team and ministers who in almost four years have displayed incompetence and were clog in the wheels of progress.