(Special Report): Why pundits are reluctant to set agenda for Buhari’s 2nd term
Across the world, whenever a new administration or tenure turns up, several industry experts are approached to come up with strategic ideas that will help the government pilot the affairs of the people and economy.
However, since President Muhammadu Buhari was declared winner of the 2019 presidential election last week after polling a total of 15,191,847 votes to beat PDP’s Atiku Abubakar who polled 11,262,978 votes, Nigerian experts approached by our correspondents were reluctant to proffer agenda.
Many of them declined to give roadmap, citing lack of clear administrative policy actions of the government since 2015 even though it introduced Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP). To many experts, it will be out of place to give ideas or agenda for a government that did not really had a plan of action for economic or industrial development roadmap in its first tenure.
On why they had little or no trust in the ERGP, many of them said the plan is full of ‘ends’ with no clear roadmap for ‘the means’ to achieve the ends.
Many of the sector market makers queried what can be said to have been achieved from where the administration met the people and economy level to its campaign tag of ‘Next level’ and.
To many sector analysts, the first tenure of President Buhari lacked clear focus on every sector and that boiled down to the inability of observers to say this is where more or different action is needed in sectors of the economy.
A review of banking sector in the last four years showed poor performance laced with frustrating nonperforming loans (NPLs) now over N17tn.
Also activities in the Housing sector saw the worst attention as none of the budgetary allocations for mass housing or housing support is traceable.
In transport sector, though there were signals of investments in railway development, it happened only in the Western half of the nation where new rail development took off from Lagos with the target of reaching Ibadan but apparently terminated at Abeokuta.
Whereas on investment was seen on the Eastern half, that is from Port Harcourt to Aba, Enugu up to Maiduguri, the highly contentious Lagos-Calabar rail which was captured in 2017/18 budget never saw the light of the day.
Several road schemes within the last four years are still uncompleted including the East-West Road in the Niger Delta.
The education industry remains in comatose even though the teachers and none academic staff only suspended their industrial actions at the eve of election.
Counterpart funding also hampered several mega power schemes including the Mambila project and the suppressive policy of electricity Distribution Companies (Discos) seen in their determination not to provide prepaid meters and needed investments to strengthen their offerings to Nigerians. This is observed from the unprecedented cost of alternative energy by industrial concerns.
In the petroleum sector, observers say the inability to sign into law the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) during the first tenure may further frustrate multibillion dollars private sector investments due to loss of confidence and fear of policy inconsistency.
Besides, there may not be any revival of the nation’s moribund refineries which was even one of the key electoral promises for the ending first term.
Founder and Principal Partner, Nextier, Patrick Okigbo, said unless the administration urgently put in place legal, regulatory, and fiscal framework to guide investments in the petroleum sector, Buhari’s second tenure will not achieve the expected results.
“For 18 years, various governments have made unsuccessful attempts to pass a petroleum industry bill. At the start of President Buhari’s first term, the bill was disaggregated into four bills for easy of passage. The first of the bills, Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, made it all the way through the National Assembly to the President for his assent. President Buhari did not grant the assent for a number of reasons. This means that there is still great uncertainty in Nigeria’s petroleum industry, and as such, it will be difficult for any serious local or foreign investment to make a big bet on Nigeria,” Okigbo insisted.
Analysis by global think-tank, Wood Mackenzie, and other stakeholders in Nigeria, expect little or no changes in the direction of the nation’s economy and the oil and gas sector.
Indeed, the stakeholders insisted that expected reforms that would drive investment, economic growth, and job creation might remain a mirage for the next four years.
Director, sub-Saharan Africa Research at Wood Mackenzie, Gail Anderson, said: “A second term means stability within key state bodies, such as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources. Of course, the President could take the opportunity to re-shuffle personnel, although we expect little change in direction.”
With $200 billion stranded investment because of failure by successive governments to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill, stakeholders expressed doubt over anticipated reform in the sector, as the President, who doubles as the Minister of Petroleum Resources, earlier turned down the document, which would have tackled critical challenges in the sector.
Business Hilights recalls that an earlier report by Bloomberg Economics had noted that, “If President Muhammadu Buhari wins another four-year term; it will probably mean more political interference in Nigeria’s economy and slower growth.”
However, only one expert agreed to speak on the agenda for President Buhari’s second term. He is notable economist and consultant, Dr Ayo Teriba.
Giving an insight as to what the administration will do now to move the nation forward, he first of all analysed what the government passed through in the last four years, saying “Within the last four year, the administration of PMB concentrated much on giving Nigerians the picture of ends and how beautiful the end will look like without having the required means to achieve the bogus ends”.
“That is why there are confusion in terms of what did people actually saw to vote them in again considering the available statistics in levels of national poverty, job losses, collapse of industries, multiple taxation cries by struggling entities, new wave of insecurity known as bandits and herders killings.
Continuing, he averred that for the administration to get its acts right and drive the economy better, “The administration must stop wishful thinking in telling Nigerians what it intends to achieve, but come up with policies that will raise funds, which is the means to the ends”.
“You will keep deceiving the nation when you do not have credible means to deliver your ends. So the first job of the government is to look for means to achieve the ends it has been promising the nation.
“What we are saying is that Nigerians are tired of hearing about the advantages of a project that is yet to be delivered or that is in the pipelines and that was what characterized last four years of this government.
“Now, we want to see those beautiful projects delivered and delivered evenly across the federation not necessarily within states where he got more votes because politicking is over. We are now in the era of governance,” Teriba averred.