Fractious political scene, uncertainty over the health of President Muhammadu Buhari, violent unrest and severe economic difficulties will remain sources of instability in Nigeria in the next five years, the latest five-year outlook by the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) has shown.
According to the business unit arm of the United Kingdom-based Economist Group which provides advisory services through research and analysis, Nigeria faces the biggest challenges to its constitutional democracy since the return to civilian rule in 1999.
It noted that risks in the early part of the 2017-2021 prediction are heightened by a likely transfer of power before the electoral cycle at the presidency.
With the President having spent much of the first half of this year in the UK receiving treatment for an undisclosed ailment, the EIU said: “We view it likely that Mr. Buhari will be forced to leave office before the official end of his term in 2019. He will be replaced by his deputy, Yemi Osinbajo, to serve the remainder of the term as stipulated in the constitution.”
Indeed, the outlook, contrary to some expectations by government, noted that policy reform will be slow as efforts to introduce market-oriented reforms and diversify the economy away from oil come up against vested interests, ideological opposition and bureaucratic inefficiency. It added that real GDP growth would ebb to recover from the recession of 2016, given an ongoing period of historically low oil prices and the weak policy response which will sap confidence in the economy more generally.
Similarly, the EIU projected that the average yearly inflation will rise further to 17 per cent this year owing to currency falls coupled with generally higher commodity prices, adding that greater currency stability will see inflation edge down, although not rapidly in 2018.
Reacting to the report, an economist and investment banker, Bayo Rotimi, said: “I understand the anxiety around the political situation, movement in oil prices. These are things that we are aware of. If there are problems in those areas, then the nation’s economy may be adversely affected.”
Rotimi, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of Quest Advisory Services Limited, continued: “The EIU tends to be pessimistic. I do not agree with their position on the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP). As always, everything is a function of implementation.”
For the Director-General of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Muda Yusuf, he acknowledged the concerns but noted that government efforts in the areas of policy initiation and implementation had reflected genuine commitment to growth and development.
To the Director-General of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Segun Kadiri, a lot has been done by the government in initiating policies that would turn the country around.