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Rufai Oladimeji
, Nigeria.
The most important choice Nigerians have
to make


Every new year, for the first month at least,
most Nigerians experience a word I made up
called “Janumism.” It is a portmanteau of
“January” and “Optimism.” We are generally
positive about having a fruitful, prosperous
year, we make resolutions that make us feel
hopeful, and we project our minds to
December with a vision of accomplishment.
Reality starts to set in in February and the
mood dissipates but for the first month of the
year at least, people tend to believe they have
a shot at a better year ahead.

Off the back of a turbulent 2018, I’m not sure
how many Nigerians have the Janumism spirit
within them. It was a very challenging year.
Back in june of 2018, it was reported that
Nigeria had surpassed India to become the
nation with the most people living in extreme
poverty. 87 million Nigerians against 71.5
million Indians. What makes this particularly
mind-blowing is that India’s population is
more than six times Nigeria’s: 1.3 billion
people compared to 190 million.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in 2018
was weak. GDP is the market value of all goods
and services produced within Nigerian shores.
From 2.1% in the last three months of 2017, it
slowed to 1.9% in the first three months of
2018. It slowed again to 1.5% in the second
quarter of 2018, before picking up to 1.8% in
the third quarter. The main takeaway from this
is that our dear nation is not growing fast
enough economically to lift its people out of
poverty.
Population growth in Nigeria is at an annual
rate of 2.6% which exceeds our GDP figures.

Think of a family woman making N50k monthly
with two children to care for. Assume she adds
another child every year but her N50k salary
doesn’t rise. The burden of supporting a
growing household with stagnant wages is what
Nigeria is facing with millions of her citizens
bearing the brunt of weak economic growth.
There has to be a better way because none of
the problems we are facing will magically
disappear in 2019. A hopeful solution can be
found in making the right choice in the
upcoming February 2019 elections.

Presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar and his
running mate Peter Obi look very much like
the proverbial light at the end of a pitch black
tunnel.
Mr Abubakar and Mr Obi intend to transform
Nigeria into a modern economy that is people-
centered. How do they intend on doing this?

By, among other things, attracting much
needed investment funds into the nation.
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into Nigeria
has fallen in recent years: since peaking at
$718m in the third quarter of 2015, it fell to a
low of $118m in the third quarter of 2017. In
the 2nd quarter of last year, it reached
$261m. Point is, we need more money. We
need more investment coming into Nigeria to
boost our infrastructure and Atiku Abubakar
and Peter Obi are the best placed candidates to
get Nigeria back on track.

For foreign investors to be comfortable enough
with Nigeria to send more funds our way, they
have to be confident that they will operate in
an environment that is conducive for business.
Atiku is a businessman. Obi is a businessman.

They both believe in a healthy private sector
that is attractive to foreign investment. Much
work needs to be done to improve the
business environment. The World Economic
Forum ranked Nigeria 115th out of 140
countries for Global competitiveness.
Infrastructure was ranked 124th. ICT adoption
ranked 123rd.

The more investment dollars Atiku and Obi can
convince to come into Nigeria, the stronger
the Naira will be. It is a case of demand and
supply. More investment dollars flowing into
Nigeria means the supply of dollars increases.
This reduces the cost of acquiring them which
makes the Naira appreciate. The Naira has not
had it easy under this administration. Thanks
to the recession of 2016, dollar scarcity got so
bad that one dollar was going for N500 back in
February of 2017! Things have moderated but
are still expensive. The Central bank’s official
rate is N305 but the dollar goes for N366 on
the parallel market.

Nigeria had a chance last year to boost its
currency position by increasing trade with our
African sisters and brothers via the African
Continental Free Trade agreement. It was
signed last year by 44 of the 55 member
nations of the African Union in Kigali, Rwanda.
President Buhari pulled out of his trip to Kigali
at the eleventh hour, saying he had to consult
with stakeholders. Why he didn’t consult with
them ahead of time is part of why we are
where we are today and in need of practical,
pragmatic leadership from Abubakar and Obi.

Practical, pragmatic leadership accurately
highlights inefficiencies in a system, as Mr Obi
did when talking about Nigeria’s expensive fuel
subsidy. He called for funds used in subsidizing
fuel for Nigerians to be used in improving our
education sector. The more we hear about the
subsidy, the worse things seems to get. The
Guardian recently reported that the Petroleum
Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA)
which has the responsibility of determining the
pricing template of petroleum products
imported into Nigeria, has been unable to do
this over the past two years! Their website has
been dormant for the last two years with no
updated information on how much it costs to
bring refined fuel into Nigeria.

As at last year, the daily consumption figure
for petrol consumption in Nigeria was pegged
at 50 million liters by the NNPC’s Group
Managing Director, Dr Maikanti Baru. There
has been no one at the PPPRA to verify this
information. The Guardian reported that the
Petroleum Products Marketing Company
(PPMC), a subsidiary of the Nigerian National
Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has taken over
the required calculations from the PPPRA. This
was confirmed to the Guardian by the Group
General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division
(GPAD) of the NNPC. When he was asked to
confirm the 50 million liter per day
consumption figure, all calls entered voicemail.

The Guardian went ahead and used the most
recent data available to calculate what the
subsidy cost and arrived at a staggering figure
of N2.43 billion per day. You can read it here
guardian.ng/news/petrol-subsidy-hits-n2-43b-daily/

So we’re spending an astounding N2.43 billion
per day on subsidy, we don’t know if Nigerians
consume more than 50 million liters or more
of fuel per day, and the Agency tasked with
calculating this information has not done so
for two years. If that doesn’t spell inefficiency
then I don’t know what does. Mr Obi was spot
on.

Nigerians are suffering under an incompetent,
inefficient administration with misplaced
socialist tendencies that are not improving
matters. We need leadership that can identify
our issues, proffer bold solutions, and be
courageous enough to see them through. That
leadership comes in the form of Atuki
Abubakar and Peter Obi and come February
16th at the polls, Nigerians have to make the
all-important choice of sending them to Aso
Rock to turn things around.

Our entire future depends on it

thepunditng.com/2019-a-better-year-for-nigeria-by-nonso-ozoemena/

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