Why Buhari Supporters Should Blame Him For The 2016 Recession by Feyi Fawehinmi

First thing to clarify — this post is addressed to Buhari Supporters and not Buharideens. The distinction is important as they are different types of people. The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines a Buharideen as someone who loves Buhari more than he loves Nigeria. That is, such a person cannot be convinced of anything and is to be avoided or simply managed in a way that avoids them contaminating the wider society.

Beau Harry signing the small life he has away…smh

But a Buhari Supporter is a normal person like anyone else. He just happens to support the president after considering all alternatives and being fully aware of the president’s many weaknesses. Such a person can be reasoned with even if you can’t change their mind (you’ll even learn something from them).

Recently I did a thread saying that Buhari was 100% responsible for the economic recession Nigeria went through in 2016 and is yet to recover from.

This narrative is important because of what is currently happening in the economy. Let’s start with my good man Andrew:

And then this:

To put it in simple terms — the banks and/or their customers do not believe in the immediate economic future of Nigeria and are reacting to it. When the future looks bright, people access credit to allow them take part in the goodies that the future will bring. The banks are also happy to lend based on this bright looking future so they too can eat out of it. In a situation where credit is reducing, it means they have no confidence that the future is bringing any goodies so they’d rather not invest — better to just save the money to protect them against whatever bad thing they think the future is bringing (it’s unclear what the main driver of the drop in credit is — banks losing confidence or customers losing confidence by not even demanding for loans. Usually, the answer is a combination of both).

What is clear is that both of these people are closer to the ground and have a quicker feel for the economy before it makes its way up into the statistics which is by definition a lagging indicator. And this is not the only warning sign. Consider domestic air travel:

Passenger traffic on domestic routes in the country dropped by over 30 per cent in the first half of 2018, compared with same period last year, findings by THISDAY has shown.

The airlines attributed the development to slowdown in economic activities, as well as low purchasing power.

Records on passenger movement made available to THISDAY by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) also confirmed the low passenger traffic in 2018 compared with the previous year.

For example, in the first six months of 2017, the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), the busiest airport in the country, recorded 2,644,034 passengers on domestic flights.

But in the same period in 2018, the airport recorded 1,803,317 passengers.

Also, at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, FAAN recorded 1,907,682 in the first six months of 2017, higher that the 1,702,020 the agency report in same period in 2018.

Numbers like these are not telling you anything good. Oil prices have been up this year, the government has borrowed a ton of money ostensibly to titillate the economy. CBN has intervened here, it has intervened there. All to nought.

Finally, we have the Q2 GDP figures released by NBS today and it also tells the same story — the economy is slowing down from growth that was already very very weak. To be clear — the economy is still growing but the rate at which it is growing is slowing down.

The chart below from Bloomberg also shows the story. While non-oil grew, oil GDP fell quite badly dragging back the whole economy. When you dig further into the numbers, you see the sectors that contracted (e.g real estate) and those that grew (e.g entertainment aka Turnup).

<img class=”progressiveMedia-noscript js-progressiveMedia-inner” src=”https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/2000/0*Y5ziC0IbaVL7bhIu.png”&gt;

Hattrick loading for Mai Recession

It is normal for an economy to go through crisis and challenges. No one can blame Buhari for oil prices falling or every negative thing that happens to the economy. But what he is responsible for is the way he, as president of the country with strong opinions about the economy, chooses to react to the crises. What we saw in 2016 was strong headedness and needless foolishness that only worsened the problem. This was the same pattern of behaviour he exhibited in 1984 — initially refusing to do something and then giving in after unnecessary pain had laid bare the damage.

He has scored two recessions already in his two tenures as leader. As of today, only a fool will bet real money against him winning re-election. The coalition that brought him to power in 2015 is still mostly in place even after the defecations we saw. There is not a lot of time left for the opposition to get their act together and they’re not even behaving like they know if they are coming or going (the best campaign so far is being run by Kingsley Moghalu, a complete outsider).

It is not guaranteed that the economy will continue on a downward trajectory. Things might pick up in Q3 and Q4. Oil production may climb back up to 2mbpd. The government might discover all the reforms it should have done in 2015 and start making the right noises in a way that gives the public and investors confidence and people start believing in the future again.

But what if things get worse? How will Buhari react this time? Will the economy be put in a holding pattern for another 1 year while he makes up his mind about some trivial issue? Will everything freeze up again while the country tries to ‘convince him’ like he asked people to do during the forex crisis in 2016? All of these things are possible.

If it happens this way, you can rest assured that the Buharideens will justify every single thing he says even if he says one thing today and says the opposite tomorrow. They are to be ignored.

And this is why Buhari Supporters should blame him for the recession. They can do this while maintaining their support for him 100%. The point of blaming him is to ensure he does not do it again. It is to defend against him scoring the hattrick recession goal. There is absolutely nothing to lose for any Buhari Supporter in doing this. He’s going to win re-election, all things being equal but you can place your country above him by letting him know that the way the economic reaction to the fall in oil prices in 2014/2015 was handled was completely unacceptable. The Nigerian economy has been in a mess since then and is now the poverty capital of the world where population growth is racing ahead of GDP growth.

Hang the 2016 recession on Buhari’s neck like a gold chain. Make him own it. The purpose of memory is to prevent us doing the same stupid thing over and over again.

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