Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari recently published an opinion article titled “The Three Changes Nigeria Needs” in the Wall Street Journal, seeking perhaps to address certain misgivings in international circles about the absence of an economic agenda in his administration. The structural changes the president identifies in his short essay all manage to revolve around running a transparent economy open to all willing participants. Below are the five key takeaways:
There is a new order: President Buhari refuses to mince words about his perception of the profligacy that characterised the last administration. He also identifies that the “epidemic of corruption and inefficiency” that rattled the country under previous governments was enabled by “foreign businesses and financial institutions” who sometimes helped to hide money abroad. Buhari however believes an end has come to all that.
Buhari admits fighting corruption is not enough: Fighting corruption has been one of the most celebrated points of the one-year-old administration and forms the core of the first change – Restore Trust – Buhari identifies in his piece. The president however also admits that fighting corruption will prove inadequate without putting structures in place to eliminate opportunities for waste and fraud. Measures already taken in that regard include the implementation of the Treasury Single Account and zero-based budgeting.
There is a plan for the economy: The Buhari administration plans to ‘rebalance the economy’ by increasing manufacturing for exports to increase the amount of foreign exchange that comes into the country. It intends to achieve this by doing four major things: lower taxes on small businesses; eliminate bureaucracy affecting the informal economy; provide development funding for priority sectors like agriculture; and the introduction of a flexible exchange rate by the central bank.
Domestic infrastructure needs investment: The third change Buhari identifies is the need to ‘regenerate growth’ which further confirms there is a present slump in the economy. The plan is to attract investment in basic infrastructure especially power while also reforming the oil and gas sector. More investment in areas like solid minerals, metals and petrochemicals will drive this growth and create jobs as well as reduce poverty.
Three years left to fix the economy for the future: Buhari’s first year in office was spent addressing security challenges, especially Boko Haram terrorism, the remaining 3 years will be used for building an economic bridge to Nigeria’s future to guarantee peace and prosperity.