Analysis: I Do Not Envy Nigeria’s Next President

Analysis: I Do Not Envy Nigeria’s Next President

Sunday, August 7, 2022 2:00 pm

Presidential candidates: Kwankwaso, Obi, Atiku and Tinubu.

By Oladeinde Olawoyin

When you crunch the numbers, you’d probably come to this near-depressing realisation that anyone who succeeds Buhari WILL not do well—–at least in the short to medium terms. And I mean ‘Doing Well’ in relation to the Nigerian ‘expectation’. By implication, considering how divisive this electioneering season has been, the mutual hate/curses/anger/bigotry we see now will be child’s play when that time comes, especially online. So brace up, folks.

I looked through our Foreign Reserve numbers earlier today in the light of Emirate Airline’s recent kerfuffle and shook my head. If you juxtapose the numbers against the ECA balance, in relation to our balance of trade (Trade Deficit, actually), and the scary socio-economic dynamics around the globe, from Sri Lanka through Ukraine, you’d probably realise we are on a long, long thing. Except we get to work and fix our mess.

Last month, I wrote a story in Premium Times that showed that the Nigerian government deficit spending shot up to N3.09 trillion in Q1 2022 alone. When I researched a little further, we found that the pressure from the shortfall was eased with extra borrowing. More worrisome is the fact that, by default, the 2022 budget already had over N6 trillion deficit projection!

I do not envy the next president at all.

Strangely, much of the pre-election conversations have centred on everything but these all-important issues that (should) matter: Weak fiscal safeguards; Ideal Exchange Rate/CRR; CBN’s recklessly immoral financing of budgets (deficit); Fiscal rascality, especially at the sub-national level of governance; Hydra-headed inflationary pressure. When you add all of this to perennial challenges of insecurity, education, health and infrastructure, and the awkwardness of Nigeria’s ‘federalist’ structure which deposits so much power/attention/pressure on the man at the centre, you’d realise the enormity of Wahala on the shoulders of Nigeria’s next president. It’s not just by ‘ordinary eye’ that even a do-nothing Buhari is so tired and appears very eager to return to Daura already.

(My own fears over these challenges, in relation to a search for solutions within the context of the strength/weaknesses of the leading candidates, beyond the emotive din and curses of electioneering, inspired my phantasmagoric analysis of Nigeria’s “ideal leadership” a few days ago, which appeared like call for a GNU. Although I do think that the candidate with the least moral/ethical baggage among the leading candidates would do relatively better, even if the realities of winning an election are quite complex, I am afraid the rot may consume even the most altruistic/competent of administrators).

Going forward, I’d argue that folks who can condition their minds to rise above the din/hate/emotions and divisive messages of electioneering should steer conversations in the direction of these very important issues that matter. It does appear as though there is a deliberate/strategic attempt to divert attention from these key issues, hence, the endless furore over things that have marginal or near-zero impact on the lives of Nigerians thus far. This is probably why I hate electioneering: it adds very little to actual governance that impact the lives of everyone yet takes away so much from people’s humanity.

This is also why it’s important for us to realise that no matter how carried away we have become, amid the emotive din of electioneering, it’s still sheer nonsense if the process can’t deliver good governance to our deeply impoverished people.

I’m considering slowing down my engagement on here chiefly because I can’t catch up with the toxicity. But some of us still don’t have any other space to call ours, hence, the apprehension about post-Buhari Nigeria.

So I’d plead that amid the maddening chaos of curses/threats/hate speeches and all that, we must strive to return to and engage the real ISSUES!

* Oladeinde Olawoyin is a public affairs analyst

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