ON Saturday, August 21, 2021, the Deputy President of the Nigerian Senate Ovie Omo-Agege repeated the APC cliché about ‘Buhari change’ which Nigerians’ reality and credible data have contradicted.
At a lecture held in Lagos during the weekend, the deputy Senate president declared that Nigerians were worse off six years ago before President Muhammadu Buhari came to power.
“Buhari promised change, and he brought change, introducing new policies that encouraged domestic production of what we consume and cutting down imports of goods that we can produce locally.
“Under his watch, we now consume made-in-Nigeria rice and other locally produced commodities, and today Nigeria is on course to self-sufficiency in food production. In the process, millions of jobs have been created in the agricultural sector. He also changed our politics, and once more, the people’s priorities have become the government’s priorities,” he said.
Omo-Agege, represented by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity Yomi Odunuga at the eighth annual lecture organised by the Afrikanwatch Network Communications at Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, said that the Buhari administration had prepared Nigeria for a more sustainable and inclusive economy as well as a prosperous nation.
But this claim is contradicted by hard facts and data.
For instance, according to the World Bank Data, Nigeria’s productivity level under President Buhari has dropped by 11.2 per cent between 2015 and 2020.
Six years ago, Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product was $486 billion, and by 2020, the GDP has come down to $432 billion, despite Buhari’s promised change.
Similarly, Foreign Direct Investment to Nigeria was $1.5 billion in 2015.
Six years into the Buhari government, fewer investors want to come to Nigeria, and some have relocated their investments to other countries, including Ghana.
The Nigeria Bureau of Statistics data shows that FDI declined to$1 billion in 2020, representing a 29 per cent fall.
Recall that Google and Twitter, two big tech giants, recently located their operations in Ghana, where the subscribers are fewer than in Nigeria.
Germany moved the West Africa Centre of Global Health to Ghana and not Nigeria at about the same time.
In 2016, a year after the inauguration of President Buhari, United Airlines suspended its daily flight from Lagos to Houston-Texas, and Spanish carrier, Iberia.
The same year, it ended its flights to Nigeria from Madrid due to a shifty foreign exchange policy.
Contrary to the claim by the deputy Senate president, other indicators have shown that the Buhari administration has not managed the economy better than the previous governments.
The NBS report has shown that the value of Naira has eroded under President Buhari compared to his predecessors.
In 2015, the inflation rate was 9.55 per cent, but as of last month, July, the inflation rate was 17.38 per cent.
Therefore, the real income of Nigerians has been negatively affected by inflation by more than 90 per cent between December 2015 and July 2021.
As that is not enough burden for a people, the economic condition of the Nigerian citizens is worsened by the foreign exchange rate, which is currently estimated at N522 to a dollar as against $305 in 2015.
Using the World Bank’s income poverty threshold of $3.20 per day, Nigeria’s poverty rate is 71 per cent.
The World Bank estimated that the number of poor people in Nigeria would increase to 90 million, or 45 per cent of the population, in 2022.
Yet Senator Omo-Agege was silent on these critical indices.
He also failed to share the unemployment data with his audience, which currently stands at 33.3 per cent.
At the inauguration of President Buhari in 2015, the unemployment rate was just 10.4 per cent.
Manufacturers also say that patronage of made-in-Nigeria products is on the decline.
In the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria’s CEOs Confidence Index for the third quarter of 2019, which was also done in the fourth quarter of 2019 and the first and second quarters of 2020, 63 per cent of chief executives of manufacturing companies disagreed that patronage of locally-made products was increasing, despite Omo-Agege’s claim of ‘private sector growth’.
In fact, contrary to the senator’s claim, more Nigerians have sunk into the poverty hole during the Buhari administration than his predecessor.
While criticising the budget management under Buhari, Professor Pat Utomi in 2017 had said Nigeria was in the hand of ‘bad managers.’
He said the Buhari government should have foreseen the recession if it had been forward-looking in budget planning and management of resources.
In his article published in The Conversation, , Professor and Chair of the Economics Department, Allegheny College, described Nigeria’s poverty profile as “grim and embarrassing for a country endowed with humongous human and natural resources.”
Onyeiwu relied on NBS data and other public records to arrive at this conclusion.
Despite this concrete data, the senator representing Central Senatorial District Delta State said he did not doubt that Nigeria was on the road to progress.