Even though the government agrees that things are tough at the moment, it still argues that it has performed well, by building the foundation for a prosperous country – they have also made it a point of duty to keep reminding Nigerians how the last administration raped the country. Any harsh assessment coming from any analyst who is deemed to have worked for the PDP, or sympathetic to it, is always downplayed, no matter how insightful.
Thus, when SBM Intelligence, an arm of SB Morgen and an independent think-tank, released its report on Buhari’s first year in office, a lot of informed analysts took their research very seriously. SBM’s affiliation with Stratfor, a global leader in private intelligence gathering and analysis, gives the firm credibility, as well.
In its 51- page assessment of Buhari’s first year in office, SBM Intelligence assessed Buhari’s first year in office using verifiable data, and against his campaign promises. The report compared Buhari’s achievement with similar nations, as it were, experiencing similar problems – the drastic collapse of commodity prices, especially oil.
On the economic front, the report compares the inflation rate in May 2015 to that of May 2016. While inflation was at 9.5% in May 2015, a few days after the country was handed over to Buhari, it spiraled to 13.7% in May 2016. In my view, this number is worse than what was handed over to Buhari.
The think-tank analyzed the resent contraction of Nigeria’s GDP and observed, as some analysts have also observed, that agriculture had stopped growing, as it were. This is worrisome. If the oil sector didn’t grow, it could be accepted because of the fall in the price of oil, but for the agricultural sector not to grow, shows that there are some structural problems. Remember, there were no Tomato Ebola in the first quarter being discussed.
In its forecast, majority of country’s economic problem had been attributed to the nation’s forex policy. SBM Intelligence observed that Venezuela and Argentina suffered the same problems in their aviation industry as Nigeria did.
The firm factored in the recent militancy in the Niger Delta, and predicted that the NNPC would not be able to meet its crude swap deals in the coming months. These plus some other numbers predicted put the economy in a precarious positon.
Inflation was predicted to rise to about 16% by the end of the year and Nigeria was predicted not to be able to fund its budget because of eminent cash crunch and the dysfunction in the economy. The firm believes that Nigeria might even find it extremely difficult to raise loans to fund its deficit budget. It predicted that revenue from Company Income Tax would fall – this is correct, in my view, because United Airlines just announced that it is leaving Nigeria.
Still on divestment, the firm predicts that 1.2m jobs would be lost in the second quarter of this year – a scary figure by any standard. Please if you have a job now take it very seriously, no matter how rude your boss might be.
Interestingly, one of the firm’s prediction has just come true. The minister of finance, Kemi Adeosun, just told Nigerians that the government might not be able to fund all the projects in the 2016 budget.
The firm also had some predictions that would interest some local and foreign investors. The firm predicts that the Naira would be finally devalued in the third quarter, and would be allowed to reflect true market forces and dynamics. Well, it seems the government is about to even devalue, judging from the outcome of the just concluded MPC meeting – the CBN is considering a flexible exchange regime, after months of pegging the currency – this prediction might, thus, come earlier than expected.
The firm predicted that the current tension between herdsmen and some farmers in the south would result in reduced food production. This is scary because if there is no forex to even import food, we might all die of hunger.
One other important prediction from SBM Intelligence is that the PIB would not be passed this year. Some convincing analysis were made in the report. Interested readers might want to visit the firm’s website.
On the political front, the firm predicts that the country might be more divided in the President’s second year in office, if measures are not taken to address some current problems. Internal party bickering, within the APC, might eventually result in Bola Tinubu being charged to court. I actually read this line in the report over 20 times. The firm also had some bad news for Bukola Saraki, the Senate President, in the second year of Buhari’s anniversary.
Expectedly, the firm predicted that the President will continually look the other way when it comes to the prosecution of his party members, in the coming year.
On campaign promises, Buhari was given some pass mark, even though it was obvious that most of the campaign promises hadn’t been kept and were not likely to be kept.
For example, the president had actually improved ties with South Africa and America during his first one year in office, as promised during the campaigns. It is obvious that some promises might not be kept because of the country’s economic positon. However, some might just have been mere campaign rhetoric. For instance, the promise of an improved federal structure with states having some autonomy, might not be kept.
Also, the firm gave Buhari a pass mark on the fight against Boko Haram, but noted that the highly injured Boko Haram will still continue with their suicide bombings.
The report concludes that social unrest would be exacerbated as a result of increasing economic hardship. It believes the points it has raised should help government reinvent itself.
If I may add, we should throw away the APC’s manifesto, and judge them with new standards, since it is obvious that some of their promises can never be kept. The APC even said that they never knew things were this bad before entering office. Maybe they wrote the manifesto without knowing what was on ground.