Nigeria’s Economy: Buhari vs Jonathan

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As Nigeria’s 2019 General Elections draw nigh, President Muhammadu Buhari and his team have insisted that economic growth under his presidency “is better than it has been in many decades,” it has equally stood by the old lines like a Trump that “the Economy is raging at an all-time high, and is set to get even better,” and “It has been many years that we have seen this kind of (economic) numbers.”…If not for the last reckless administration we would have been better off.

Let us consider the graphs below:

Figure 1: Jonathan and Buhari’s Administration Economic Growth Rate

The claims by the President’s henchmen, like Kemi Adesoun, that his stewardship of the economy puts his predecessors to shame can be checked by public information that is readily available to all.

In fact, the chart above on the economic growth of Nigeria both under Buhari and Jonathan administration shows that Buhari’s record so far falls somewhere between unremarkable and substandard. Moreover, other economic data suggest that the current expansion will likely wind down before his term ends, and his boasting will ring hollow once the economy slips from recession to depression.

It is commonly said that a president deserves some credit or blame for the economy’s performance only after he’s been in office about six months. On those terms, let’s measure Buhari’s words against the record for Nigeria per capita income, which measures the standard of living of an average Nigeria and also one of the indicators of economic development of a country, over the last three years (2015-2017), and those of the last three years before taking over the mantle of leadership.

Figure 2: Per Capita Income under Jonathan and Buhari’s Administration

It can be seen clearly from the chart above that, the per capita income for the last three years keep decreasing from $2,763(it is usually measured in US dollars) in 2015 to $1,994 in 2017 compared to the increasing rate experienced before taking over power from the Jonathan administration. This means that the standard of living of an average Nigerian is lower under the Buhari administration compared to that of his predecessor.


Like all of Buahri’s predecessors, the President promised to reform regulation and boost business investment, because such measures can stimulate faster growth. Moreover, if the new investments focus on productivity-boosting equipment, they also can help raise employment and incomes. Let’s take a look at the rate of unemployment under Buhari’s administration compared to that of his predecessor.

Figure 5: Unemployment Rate under Jonathan and Buhari’s Administration

From the chart above, the rate of unemployment under the Jonathan administration was at a decreasing rate from 10.6 in 2012 to 7.8 in 2014, which means unemployment was under check during Jonathan’s administration but the same cannot be said for the Buhari administration which has seen the rate of unemployment increasing from 9 in 2015 to 16.5 in 2017, which means many Nigerians have lost their jobs under the present administration.

The economic data has said it all, the economic situation of the country is far worse than what is been portrayed by the presidency. The highly sung economic achievements do not reflect on the lives of the people of the country. Job loss is on the increase, commodity prices are on the increase, inflation is still in double digit. It’s time to stop the talks and focus on a strategy that will foster economic development rather than focusing on the 2019 election: the people are the economy and the development of the economy means the development of the people.

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