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Technocrats Key to Buhari’s Economic Antidotes

Despite the doomsday predictions about Nigeria prior to the recently concluded general elections, the country once more showed its resilience as it came out of the elections
unscathed. Indeed, Nigeria’s democratic credentials
were further consolidated with the peaceful outcome of the presidential election that saw the emergence of Muhammadu Buhari, an opposition candidate, as the president-elect. He defeated the incumbent, President Goodluck Jonathan, whose famous 5.15pm phone call midway into the announcement of the results completely changed the perception about Nigeria in the international market.
In fact, the economy was seriously bruised as a result of the tensed politicking and other electioneering activities ahead of the poll as foreign portfolio investors exited the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), just as the naira depreciated against the United States dollars and other international currencies.
Specifically, the NSE market capitalisation, which is used to measure performance of equities listed on the exchange, depreciated by N919 billion, from the N11,237 trillion it stood as at January 5, 2015, to close at N10,318 trillion on March 27, a day to the presidential election. In the same, the NSE-All Share index dipped to 33,943.29 points on
March 27, from 30,562.93 points. Similarly, the naira, despite its devaluation twice in about three months, fell to about N227 to a dollar at the parallel market.
Nevertheless , buoyed by the peaceful outcome of the elections, the Nigerian financial markets have been on the rebound as most foreign portfolio investors that exited the market then are now back to take advantage of its attractive opportunities.
The President of Association of Assets Custodians of Nigeria (AACN), a group of bankers responsible for tracking the volume of investment inflows into the country, Mrs.
Kemi Adewole, confirmed the increased foreign portfolio investments into Nigeria since the conclusion of the presidential election.
“As we speak, we have already seen greater inflows from the foreign portfolio investors. They have different strategies when they come into the country, some come in to trade and leave while some invest on a long term. Before the elections, because they were
not sure of the outcome of the election, a few of them stopped trading actively, a few withdrew from the market but immediately we had the elections and the outcome was peaceful we have seen them come back into the market. So the response has been a very positive one,” according to Adewole.
Therefore, as Nigerians and other investors in the international community awaits Buhari to take over the helms of affairs in the country, he has been advised to ensure that key reforms in various sectors
of the economy initiated by the present administration are sustained, with more transparency, so as to continue to open doors for the influx of foreign direct investments in critical sectors of the economy.
Also, analysts at Afrinvest West Africa Limited noted the victory and emergence of Buhari points to the dawn of a new era in Africa’s largest economy.
“When the President-elect assumes office on the May 29, 2015, the Nigerian masses look up to him for ‘change’ in the country that has seen 16 years of unbroken reign of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party.
Hence, the question in the mind of many is, how soon will this ‘change’ come?” they queried.
Afrinvest has also called for the formulation of a private sector- led industrial base for the economy, entrepreneurship promotion, economic diversification and heavy investment in research and development to boost industrial development, even as they called for a speedy passage of the much-delayed Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and ensure that local content issues are fully addressed to grow the oil and gas sector.
But, the Registrar of the Institute of Credit Administration (ICA), Dr. Chris Onalo advised the president-elect to ensure that his government drastically cut the cost of doing business in Nigeria when he assumes office.
He insisted that “it is really possible to fix electricity by all means within six months,” even as he urged Buhari to prioritise nationwide road construction.
From the foregoing therefore, as Nigerians have trusted Buhari to help them ‘change’ their $510 billion economy, it is expected that the incoming government makes the right choices at all time. There is need to focus on the building of lasting institutions in the country, encourage entrepreneurship and innovation, especially among young Nigerians and genuinely fight corruption.
He is also expected to ensure that the economy remains on the path of growth, reduce poverty, expand infrastructure and provide more social services for Nigerians. To drive this sort of economic growth in Africa’s largest economy, Muhammadu Buhari as president must appoint technocrats to head strategic positions in his government.

by Donatus Eleko


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