The graph below shows that economic growth stalled under President Buhari

Source: IMF

Harare- It is in everyone’s interest to live a legacy that people and the world remember you for, especially for the nations in the global spotlight like Zimbabwe, Nigeria and South Africa. The list is however, endless.

A legacy of a sitting president is measured based on his successes, failures, and art of leadership. Having taken the helm of Nigeria’s highest office with stable inflation, unemployment rates, rife corruption and terrorism from Boko Haram at its par, Nigeria’s outgoing president, Muhammad Buhari promised a wave of changes for the better. Buhari's legacy will be judged based on three key aspects he promised to turn-around, corruption, insecurity and unemployment. 

Being the first Nigerian President to rule through a free and fair election, Buhari was in the international spotlight, with his own sheep while the international community having high hopes for the newly elected democratic leader in 2015.

However, most of the promised were not accomplished as he left the country’s economy and security in tatters. Buhari failed to address all he promised to. His legacy is questioned. However, it is more important to take note that Buhari’s leadership coincided with COVID-19 pandemic and disruptions in global supply chains courtesy of Russia’s imperialistic war on Ukraine.

Muhammadu Buhari is a Nigerian politician, and retired major general who served as Head of State from 1983 to 1985 in the Nigerian Army. He also held the office of governor of one of the states in North East of Nigeria and one-time Federal Minister of Petroleum.

Prior to becoming democratically elected Buhari contested and failed on three different occasions. On the fourth attempt, he won, succeeding President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. In 2019, he was re-elected against strong candidates like Atiku Abubakar, of the People’s Democratic Party candidate (PDP).

As I said, Buhari was the first opposition candidate to assume the helm peacefully in 2015 after the former general — who had taken power by force a good 30 years earlier only to be replaced in another coup two years after that — embraced the democratic system, vowing to change Nigeria for the better.

Buhari came to power at a time when abductions and severe bombings were at their highest point, courtesy of a terrorist Islamist group, Bokko Haram that controlled large parts of northeast Nigeria.

However, Buhari has left Nigeria in a poly-crisis environment worse than before due to corruption, lack of transparency, and reactionary political and economic policies. In his rulership, the corridors of power, economically and politically have been dominated by whom you are not what you have to qualify for certain key positions. Buhari left Nigeria with rife corruption, and economic decadence exacerbated by a decaying currency, cash shortages, record inflationary pressures and increased insecurities.

In 2015, Buhari promised to unshackle Nigeria from the chains of poverty by addressing corruption, economic fundamentals and insecurity.

Even though the outgoing President managed to retake substantial parts of the northeast, especially Adamawa, Yobe and Borno States, that were under the control of Boko Haram insurgents with Boko Haram currently on the run, a new more destructive phenomenon of banditry emerged in the northwest Nigeria which is controlling most of the villages.

This has scaled down the achievements to deal with insecurity.

Economic meltdown, exacerbated by COVID-19 and Russian aggression in Ukraine has remained atop of Buhari’s rulership. In 2020, the unemployment rate in Nigeria soared to over 30%. of the circa 72% employed in 2022, over 50% are general dealers as they are in the informal economy. Creating jobs and boosting the economy was another one of Buhari's promises back in 2015.

The graph below shows unemployment stats in % from 2017-2022

When Buhari took over in 2015, inflation was around 12% to 13% while now, it has shoot to record highs of 21% to 22%. The volatility of exchange rate, power crisis and the national debt has gone up significantly.

Just like the counterpart in Zimbabwe, Buhari’s Finance and Central Bank gaffers passed reactionary measures with conditional cash transfers and loans to farmers among the policies. However, due to corruption and lack of accountability, nothing was got out of it. For instance, one of the retrogressive measures which under weighed Buhari’s economic policies was the call for a cashless society in an economy where 70% of economic transactions are in the informal market.  

There have been reports of high-level corruption involving government officials that were hand-picked and appointed by either President Muhammadu Buhari or people that are believed to be in his kitchen cabinet according to Nigeria’s Kaduna political analyst Tukur Abdulkadir.

The graph below shows corruption ranking of Nigeria according to Transparency International

The 2022 Corruption Index ranked Nigeria 24th slightly above Zimbabwe where corruption is defined as endemic.

Therefore, Buhari’s legacy was of failed aspirations. Unemployment skyrocketed, Naira reached record falls while corruption shoot through the roof. These were the economic fundamentals Buhari used to campaign in 2015 and these are what we use to measure his failures and successes.

Whoever is coming, has a lot of jobs to address.

However, the economy of Nigeria advanced by 3.52% from a year ago in the fourth quarter of 2022, accelerating from the third quarter’s 2.25% rise and beating market estimates of a 2.33% growth. This marks the ninth consecutive quarter of expansion, driven by the non-oil sector (4.44% vs 4.27 in Q3), especially services (+5.69%), of which information and communication (10.35%) and finance and insurance (11.61%).

Agriculture also contributed positively (+2.05%), while the industrial sector shrank (-0.94%), dragged down by mining (-11.39%) and oil refining (-39.23%). In the meantime, the oil sector contracted by 13.38%, after a 22.67% drop in the previous quarter, due to large-scale crude theft and pipeline vandalism.

The average daily crude oil production stood at 1.34 million barrels per day, up from 1.20 Mbps in Q3 but down from 1.50 Mbps a year ago.

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