Photo Credit; Daily Post
Cheers trailed the successful primaries held at the PDP National Convention at Port Harcourt over the weekend. Just as you know, Atiku led the polls with a landslide victory garnering 49% of total valid votes. The unrelenting septuagenarian clinched the PDP presidential ticket barely 10 months after defecting from the ruling party.
He has had his fair share of national leadership, having assumed the office of the Vice President for two consecutive tenures. Drawing from a bank of experience and wealth of business-driven personality, he was able to head the National Economic Council during the period of relative economic stability and deserves credit for conceiving the concept of the listing of the NNPC on the stock exchange.
His candidacy poses a major threat to the incumbency given the divided allegiance of the Northern and Southern part of the country upon his emergence as the top contender for the office of the CEO of Nigeria Inc (as Wale Olusi refers to the company - Nigeria).
With the North West divided between Muhammadu Buhari and Rabiu Kwankwaso’s Atiku, the South West seem lopsided towards the APC due to the predominance of the Progressives. The South East and South-South seem to be Atiku’s best bet in that section of the country due to the rising unpopularity of the ruling administration due to biased handling of the IPOB and herdsmen situations.
The major focus currently is the selection of a running mate by the big two parties. While the choice of the ruling party is clearly Prof Osibanjo, an intelligent legal expert whose antecedents cannot be forgotten as regards the introduction of VAIDS, dismissal of erring DSS chief and the overhaul of the erstwhile parasitic SARS alongside other noteworthy achievements; the PDP flagbearer is currently on the look out for a running mate.
The search has been speculated to be streamlined towards economists from the South Western or South Eastern Region. The speculated nominees include the current Senate Vice President - Ike Ekweremadu, former governor of Anambra State – Peter Obi, former minister of finance and one-time deputy president of the World bank – Okonjo Iweala, as well as a two-time minister and vice president of World Bank Africa – Oby Ezekwesili. The spotlight also fell on Akinwunmi Adesina, current President of African Development Bank.
The endeared search for an economist to take up the role is expedient as the economy of Nigeria is a major concern for both the electorate and investors. The rising unemployment figures, worsening human development positions, rising debt profile, falling external reserves and rising inflation figures are all current situations bedeviling the Nigerian economy.
The recent slowdown in growth from 1.95% to 1.45% in the second quarter of 2018 raises a red flag on a likely downslide into another recession. In economic parlance, when an economy experiences two consecutive quarters of negative growth in the GDP, that economy is said to be in a recession. However, if the economy experiences a positive growth result and relapses after a short period into negative territory, such an economy is said to be in a double-dip recession.
Nigeria, the country enmeshed in a constant wealth of petrodollars overtook India as the country with the largest number of citizens living in abject poverty. It is estimated that about 87 million citizens are living less than the poverty line of $1.90 (N689.70 at N363 to a dollar) a day.
This is unsurprising as the current minimum wage per day current stands at N580.65, forming the bedrock of the clamour for an increment in the minimum wage. Much traction or direction is needed on the plans of the political contenders to cut the cost of governance.
Earlier this year, the Emir of Kano and ex – boss of the CBN, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi gave the following analysis on cutting the cost of governance to stem rising unemployment levels;
*A senator receives N36 million monthly. If this is divided into two, it comes to N18 million. The second half of N18 million can be used to create jobs for 200 Nigerians, each earning N90, 000 monthly.
“When you multiply 200 people by 109 senators, this will give 21,800 Nigerians gainful employment. In short, 200 Nigerians will be able to live a comfortable life on half a senator’s monthly salary.
“Half of that amount is N12.5 million, which is enough to employ 135 Nigerians with a monthly salary of N92, 500 each. Nigeria has 360 members in the House of Representatives. Half of their salaries can employ 48,600 Nigerians who can live comfortably.
“So, the Buhari Administration can employ 70,400 Nigerians with monthly salaries ranging from N90, 000 to N92, 500. This is just by dividing the salaries of senators and representatives.
“Half their present salaries is more than enough for them in a country where majority of Nigerians live on less than a dollar per day”.*
The Federal Government has although hinted on a possible upward review as their decision could yield grave consequences for the ruling party if a strike is embarked upon less than 140 days to the election.
On the flip side, the sustainability of the wage review becomes pertinent since a government is a going concern and is to run based on earlier agreements irrespective of the party in power. The latter could be taken care of if the cost of governance is cut down to considerably fair levels reflective of the state of the economy so that funds would trickle down to the masses in form of improved human development indices.
Furthermore, the need to select an economist is paramount to balancing the political and economic will of the ruling class. Hindsight showed us about an earlier occurrence of a clash between the duo - the Jonathan Subsidy Removal Saga. The decision to remove subsidy in January 2012 was sound economically but fatal politically. Although, the Jonathan administration was under fire due to the inconsistency in government policy – his predecessor had increased subsidy (or reduced the pump price paid by consumers), yet the policy was welcome at a time when the oil boom was about to bust. Two years later, crude oil prices crashed vehemently to the detriment of oil producing nations. The Venezuelan economy is yet to recover from that crises despite allegedly possessing the largest oil reserve in the world.
Hence, this critical search based on federal character and knowledge of economics is critical to the outcome of the elections as a sound legal professor with solid grasp of economics flagged by the incumbency remains the man to beat. As the election season unfolds, all we can do is to keep tabs on Buharinomics and likely implications of an Atikulate administration,