What is President Buhari’s economic legacy?

Sep 21, 2022|Michael Famoroti

Many Nigerians will remember him as the president that killed the naira, a well-earned reputation considering the currency has lost more than half of its value during his tenure.

But President Buhari also holds the dubious honour of being the only Nigerian Head of State to lead the country into two separate recessions (2016 & 2020) since official records began in 1983.

And how can we ignore Nigeria’s unemployment? An administration that promised to create 15 million jobs in its 2017 Economic Recovery & Growth Plan now presides over a country with a 33% unemployment rate, where just one in three young people are in a full-time job.

Key takeaways:

  1. Nigeria’s economy has faced one of its worse outcomes under President Buhari. 

  2. The country has faced two recessions, fiscal ruin, and the naira’s value has halved.

  3. Oil revenue, which used to be Nigeria’s saving grace, has crashed, thanks to record low production, with no alternative or non-oil revenue growth. 

Let me throw another hat into the ring: fiscal indiscipline.

When President Buhari settled into his new role at the end of 2015, Nigeria was at a fiscal crossroads as the global oil price crash forced policymakers to rethink their approach to managing the country’s finances. The government even passed a supplementary budget mid-way through 2015 just to tide things over.

Nigeria’s accounts did not look good. We were committing nearly 40% of annual spending to government salaries and pensions, leaving just 13% of 2015 spending for capital expenditure (capex). Furthermore, the budget deficit had grown to 1.6% of GDP, up from 0.6% just two years prior, and Nigeria was spending more and more to service its debt—38% of government revenues went to debt servicing in 2015, compared to 14% in 2010.

But there were enough reasons to be hopeful. Even at 1.6%, the deficit-GDP ratio

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