The International Monetary Fund has forecasted that Nigeria’s economy is expected to grow by 2.5% in 2021 and 2.3% by 2022, citing that a continued lack of access to vaccines will see Africa’s projected growth at 3.4% compared to the rest of the world at 6%.
The projected growth of 2.3 and 2.5% predicted for the Buhari administration is still leagues behind the economic growth witnessed under past administrations since the return to democracy in 1999.
In 2020, Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contracted by 1.92% in real terms from N71.39 trillion recorded in 2019 to N70.01 trillion. However, it grew by 0.11% (year-on-year) in real terms in the fourth quarter of 2020, representing the first positive quarterly growth in the previous three quarters of the year.
Performance per administration since 1999
Using data gathered from Nairalytics, the research arm of Nairametrics, Nigeria’s economy grew the most under the 2-year presidency of late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua between 2008 and 2010, and has grown the least under President Muhamadu Buhari from 2016 to 2020.
Olusegun Obasanjo, 1999-2007 ( 6.95%)
According to data from Nairalytics, under Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria’s first democratically elected president since the return to democracy in 1999, the economy grew by just 0.58% in his first year of presidency. Its highest rate of 15.33% was achieved in 2002. In his final year as president (2007), GDP growth was 6.59%. Obasanjo’s presidency averaged a GDP growth rate of 6.95% during his 8 years in office.
Under Obasanjo’s presidency, Nigeria experienced private sector reforms in telecoms, banking, and pension administration. His government also laid the foundation for other market reforms carried out by subsequent Nigerian presidents.
Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, 2008-2010 (7.98%)
The late Yar’Adua’s presidency witnessed a period of the large commodities boom, the 2008 financial market crash which left Nigeria largely unharmed, and a reversal of the sale of NNPC refineries, due to lack of transparency in the process.
Economic growth in 2008 was 6.76%. In 2010, it hit a peak of 9.13%, averaging 7.98% for Yar’Adua’s short time in office.
Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, 2011-2015 (4.80%)
GEJ took over as president after the death of his predecessor in 2010 and was later elected President in 2011. His presidency saw the rollout of reforms including fuel deregulation which was hit by the “#OccupyNigeria” protests, and also the successful implementation of the first phase of Nigeria’s reforms, which saw the deregulation of Distribution and Generation of PHCN assets into the GenCos and DisCos of today (transmission is still in the hands of the Transmission Company of Nigeria, which distributes the power to DisCos nationally).
Jonathan’s 2011 presidential year saw economic growth at 5.31%. The highest growth rate was 6.22% recorded in 2014. Nigeria’s GDP growth averaged 4.80% under his leadership, from 2011 to 2015.
Muhammadu Buhari, 2016-2020 (0.31%)
Buhari’s administration historically signified the transfer of leadership to an opposition party in Nigeria’s democratic history, an election where promises to diversify the economy from crude oil were made, alongside others.
For several reasons, the administration has fallen short of its promises although it has scored fairly good points in social welfare schemes executed under the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP). Notable among these programs are the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP); N-Power program aimed at creating jobs for 1 million beneficiaries; GEEP programme to provide loans to an additional 1 million traders, farmers and market people; and the Social Register, to accommodate an additional 1 million households. Others include the TRADERMONI, MARKETMONI, FARMERMONI, MSME Survival Fund, and N75 billion National Youth Investment Fund (NYIF).
Under the Buhari administration, the economy has experienced rising food inflation and currency inflation which have seen Nigeria’s GDP per capita fall to the level it was 40 years ago.
His 2016 presidential year experienced a decline of -1.58%. The highest growth thus far is 2.27% recorded in 2019. Although his administration ends in 2023, from his arrival in 2016 to 2020, GDP growth under his leadership averaged 0.31%.