April 3, 2015
The next president of Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy has emerged. Described as the country’s most crucial elections ever, the race for the presidential seat was stiff but the candidate of the opposition, 72-year old Gen. Muhammadu Buhari claimed victory in the end. However, he faces a big task of reawakening the economy which has been hard hit by falling oil prices and a weakened naira.
While Nigerians and the world wait for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to formally declare Buhari as winner, we spoke to a cross-section of Nigerians on the areas of the economy which would require immediate attention.
Oil currently accounts for over 80 percent of government earnings, hence the country has suffered immensely as global oil prices slumped. Nigeria needs to be healed from the Dutch disease it currently suffers from and Nigerians will be looking unto Buhari to provide the magic touch.
The rapid growth of the services sector has shown that there is another route to wealth. Today, the country has one of the fastest growing telecommunications markets in the world. Similar impressive growth of the financial services sector is also evidence that Nigeria has not been exploiting the myriad of opportunities available to diversify.
A communications expert, who spoke to Ventures Africa, lamented the overreliance of the country on proceeds from oil. He wondered why Nigeria abandoned agriculture when it found oil. “We have cocoa, kolanut and several other cash crops. We cannot continue to rely on crude oil.”
Although it is blessed with a wide array of natural resources, they remain underexploited. If mining can be the mainstay of some economies, it becoming just one of Nigeria’s many money spinners enhances the chance for more government revenue, jobs, influx of more foreign investment, among others.
Already, Agriculture accounts for more than 50 percent of total employment. It will only be wise for the next president to build on the successes achieved in the sector and make it strong enough to feed the country and its neighbours. Remember, Nigeria has 38.4 percent of arable land.
The president will also be expected to build on gains made so far in the manufacturing sector, particularly in the automobile sub-sector.
Misuse of public resources has become rampant since the creation of modern public administration in the country. Allegations of corruption have increased in recent time, but with few prosecutions, it has been alleged that the present administration condones graft. “Our government is too corrupt!” Dorcas Okojie, a middle-aged woman who trades in textile, told Ventures Africa in Lagos.
According to Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) for 2014, Nigeria is ranked 136 out of 175 most corrupt countries. The Nigeria Survey and Corruption Survey Study by the Institute for Development Research, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria (IDR, ABU Zaria) also highlighted some corrupt institutions in the country. The Nigerian Police tops the list, followed by political parties, National and State Assemblies, Local and Municipal Governments, Federal and State Executive Councils, among others. General Buhari will be expected to address corruption in these institutions and others like them.
He has already centered his campaign under this umbrella, vowing to fight corruption if he becomes Nigeria’s leader. In fact, he has also planned how to spend stolen funds his government would recover once he assumes power.
Although Nigeria has a population of more than 170 million, consistent power generation output stands at about 4,000 megawatts. For the country to cater for the power needs of its citizens, it would need to generate over 200,000 megawatts.
Privatization of the country’s power assets has not brought the required change with stable power supply still far-fetched. New power plants in recent times have been inaugurated though, but challenges like gas shortages and vandalisation have made the journey to uninterrupted power supply longer than envisaged.
As unanimously pointed out by locals who spoke to Ventures Africa, stable power supply is the most important commodity for national development. Therefore, if Buhari can fix power, he would have saved several other sectors. “Stable power supply reduces the cost of doing business. Imagine home much MTN spends on powering their masts,” said Anthony Diko, a Lagos banker who left work early today for fear of post-election violence. “Constant power will help SME growth and reduce production cost for manufacturers.”
Source: Ventures Africa