The best word I’ll use to describe Nigeria in the late 1990s is “tense”. I was too young to understand the experience. But, from reading history books and interacting with my parents and their friends, Nigeria was not the best place to live, do business, or even exist.

The exchange rate had worsened from ₦1 to $2 in the 1970s to ₦1 to $0.05 in 1998. At the same time, Nigeria’s fortune declined from being the 33rd highest per capita income in the world in the 1970s to being the 13th poorest in the world in 1998. Inflation and unemployment were high, and Nigerians queuing up overnight to get fuel for their vehicles gives us a picture of how bad things were. 

A little bit like how things are now.

When Olusegun Obasanjo became the president in 1999, no one would have blamed him for failing because the country had