If you have been paying attention to the news recently, you probably have heard the name Muhammadu Buhari. Muhammadu Buhari was elected as the the 5th president of the fourth Nigerian Republic by more than 2.5 million votes last year. President Buhari has a rich history in the country of Nigeria. He is a retired Major General of the Nigerian Army as well as the former Nigerian Head of State from 1983 to 1985. He was famous for taking power at this time through a military coup. The term “Buharism” was even coined to describe the economic principles and political ideology of the former Buhari government.
President Buhari previously tried his hand at being elected to office and losing presidential elections in 2003, 2007, and 2011. It wasn’t until March 2015 that he was finally democratically elected as the candidate for the All Progressives Congress party. In this election he defeated the sitting president, Goodluck Jonathan. This was a historic event because it was the first time in the history of Nigeria that a current president lost an election. Muhammadu Buhari was sworn into office on May 29, 2015. He currently uses the political label of a “converted democrat.”
In May 2016 President Buhari signed into law the budget he had originally proposed almost 5 months earlier; the 2016 budget which is a total of 6.1 trillion naira ($30.6 billion). Currently Nigeria is facing one of the toughest economic times in the nation’s history. President Muhammadu Buhari has claimed that his government is currently, “working day and night to diversify the economy” and alleviate the nation’s economic crises.
The Nigerian budget has been a frequent news item due to the many scandals and revisions that have been associated with it. The hard copies of the budget, that were being stored at the Nigerian Senate, mysteriously disappeared in January 2016. This prevented any debate on the budget from being heard. Following this debacle the media and other watchdog groups uncovered many of what they considered to be “massive” discrepancies within the budget. One example of this was 795 million naira ($4 million) for a single website. After the revelation about the massive spending for a simple website many Nigerian politicians turned their backs on the plan. This lead President Buhari to quickly fire the Director General of the Budget Office claiming he was upset by the embarrassing and disappointing process. He claimed that anyone who had a hand in any deception or incompetence would be punished.
The reason for the Nigerian economic troubles is mainly due to the drop in the price of oil. In fact, Nigeria produces 1.8 million oil barrels per day. This represents 90% of the total Nigerian exports. When the price of oil goes down that money is lost to the country and the economy suffers. For this reason the Nigerian economy is very dependent upon the global price of oil and other petroleum products.
Despite the drop in oil prices and its effect on the Nigerian economy, President Muhammadu Buhari continues to refuse to devalue the naira, Nigeria’s currency. However, the Central Bank of Nigeria has restricted Nigeria’s imports, hoping to force consumers to purchase Nigerian made products and goods.
The Nigerian future is designed to promote what President Buhari refers to as “expansionary fiscal policies.” These policies include 350 billion naira ($1.76 billion) for infrastructure and 200 billion naira ($1 billion) to improve roads. President Buhari also wants to be a man of the people. He says that he reads the newspaper and listens to the television and radio. These are all ways for him to better understand what the people of Nigeria are thinking.
Reactions to the passing of the budget varied, but most people were more worried about the budget being correctly implemented, rather than the content. President Muhammadu Buhari said he will make it his priority to implement the budget effectively, while continuing to institute policies to help Nigeria’s struggling economy, independent of the fluctuating price of oil. Part of this commitment includes the recent announcement of a visa-free pact between eight African countries, including Nigeria. This pact is designed to promote economic partnerships across the continent. Under this pact, visas will no longer be needed by citizens of the countries when they choose to travel to one of the other countries. This is expected to increase the level of cooperation and trade between the countries, improving Africa’s overall economic climate.