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Let me make an easy prediction which you can lock in the safe. Nigeria’s next presidential election will not be won on how the All Progressives Congress government has managed to attract high-level political defections, restructuring, domestic terrorism, banditry, kidnappings, ethnic divide, corruption , police brutality or whatever. . It will be won on the economy. It will be the kitchen table, (the money in the pocket) election type.

In other words, the deciding factor will be none of the sensational headlines now and heading into 2023. It will be bread and butter issues that will preoccupy the voter. This is really a truism applicable in electoral cycles in poor countries as well as in rich countries.

We must not forget the late Republican President of the United States George HW Bush (1989-1993) threatened with re-election and high in the polls for his performance on foreign affairs: a crushing defeat against the Iraqi army in its invasion of the Kuwait, sailing on the end of the cold war, reunification of Germany, etc. He was thought to be such a sure bet for a second term that there was no significant opposition figure up to the challenge of standing up against him. No one wanted to have to live with the stigma of a humiliating defeat at the hands of a popular president. That was until a little-known, brash and telegenic Rock n Roll candidate, Bill Clinton, won the Democratic nomination and his campaign strategist, James Carville, clicked. the stupid economy ”! He propelled Clinton to the White House for two terms.

The president, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retired), will not be on the ballot in 2023. This makes him even more open than he would otherwise be. There are a lot of things (good and bad) going on with the Nigerian economy that don’t really resonate with the public. For example, the country is on the verge of joining New York, Singapore and London as an international financial hub. The Central Bank of Nigeria has set October for the launch of the N5tn infrastructure fund. Meanwhile, non-oil exports suffer from a shortfall of 5.8 billion naira with consequences on the GDP. There is an ongoing debate (or battle) over “fiscal federalism,” as the price of crude exceeds $ 74 a barrel.

On top of all this, Nigeria’s GDP per capita in 1980 was $ 2,229, and it is expected to return to the same figure by 2023. A case of one step forward, three steps back. Why is this so, you will ask me? High rates of inflation and devaluation are responsible for this, among a plethora of other factors. These are some of the big economic problems that are drowned out by unnecessary CPA gossip and internal PDP political wrangling.

Commenting on the impending N5tn infrastructure fund, the finance minister told a press conference in Abuja last week that “the federal government is borrowing reasonably to finance infrastructure”. And, “would regret” it if it did not invest in infrastructure. With public debt reaching 33.1 billion naira in March 2021, the minister’s flippant remark about borrowing “significantly” and “regret” if the country does not, has left many scratching their heads. the head. The public deserves and expects more in-depth analysis from the country’s top economic spokesperson. Other than occasional press conferences and written ministry statements attributed to the minister, she is not used to one-on-one media interviews. She is known to be shy and unpretentious. That being understood, but why did she campaign so hard to obtain the all-powerful designation of “Minister of the Economy”?

The Nigerian Cabinet’s financial record has always been somewhat imprecise, a function of cloak and dagger. It was originally the “Ministry of Finance” with the broadest remit, and perhaps the most important department of the presidency. Then the budget and national planning are relieved of their responsibilities according to the person appointed for the post. Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala brought a whole new dimension to this position when she was reappointed by former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2011. She not only had to combine the two parts of the department, her remit was broadened to cover all other aspects of the economy not specifically mentioned in the title. She becomes “coordinating minister of the economy”. This was deemed necessary because Governors of the Central Bank of Nigeria sometimes also think that they are also de facto finance ministers judging by how they take the liberty of defending broader economic policy issues in the world. beyond their monetary policy mandate. Kemi Adeosun had no illusions that his mandate did not extend to budget and national planning. Not like Okonjo-Iweala. When Adeosun resigned from the cabinet and Ahmed was up for promotion, she fought tooth and nail to be placed in a role similar to that of Okonjo-Iweala. She succeeded without realizing how her own skills are very different from those of Okonjo-Iweala who has often led economic news, rather than reacting lukewarm to events as Ahmed is doing now.

Real “big guns” sat in the Ministry of Finance. Some are fondly remembered for their mere presence in this exalted seat; Festus Okotie-Eboh, Obafemi Awolowo, Shehu Shagari, Kalu Idika Kalu, Olu Falae, Anthony Ani, etc. she does.

Despite the terrible headlines on Buhari and the APC government, however, there are a few reasons to applaud their push for an inclusive economy: paddy production has since doubled; the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative launched in 2017 resulted in subsidy savings of N50 billion annually; Bank of Industry has disbursed over 400 billion naira to large, medium and small enterprises since 2016; The Development Bank of Nigeria has disbursed 100 billion naira, affecting thousands of people, many of whom (52%) are young people and women according to figures from the National Bureau of Statistics.

There is the Presidential Council for the Business Environment, inaugurated in 2016, alongside the Secretariat for the Enabling Environment, which has helped Nigeria move up 39 places to 131 in the world rankings. There is the national collateral registry also launched in 2016 to facilitate lending to small businesses, the Renminbi-Naira exchange agreement between China and Nigeria which is expected to improve trade between the two countries, the increase in l NYSC allocation to N33,000, Ajaokuta-Kaduna -Kano pipeline among several others. Much has been done, but much remains to be done.

What this means is that economically laudable government initiatives are stifled because they lack a central theme. They are disparate and disjointed. The position of the minister of Africa’s largest economy is not for the timid media, nor for the silent backroom operator. Ahmed has failed and cannot find the narrative that connects the dots.

It is the Minister’s sole job to drive APC’s economic agenda and link it to the public. She should be the economic face of the government’s economic vision, but Ahmed is clearly not the type who likes to be there to engage in public discourse.

It is not enough to select someone for this vital role in the regime because they have accounting qualifications and are politically connected. The right person for the job needs to be right now; a leader and a murderer who not only can get by, but who would give as well as he gets. A minister who has a compelling economic history to sell to the skeptical public. The APC has no chance of winning in 2023 with a light-weight minister who has neither the will nor the means to “coordinate” the economy.

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