7 things GDP numbers tell us about Buhari’s reelection bid

On Tuesday, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) released the gross domestic product (GDP) numbers, showing a 1.93 percent growth in the Nigerian economy for the year 2018.

Financial analysts, public commentators, local and foreign media, and opposition bigwigs have said repeatedly that President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has done poorly with the revival of the economy.

Former president Olusegun Obasanjo, who is fiercely opposed to Buhari’s reelection went as far as saying Buhari is weak on the economy, after over a year in economic recession.

Obasanjo added that a change of the current administration will birth “a government that will improve the economy, regain the confidence of investors and generally drive growth”.

TheCable reviews seven things the GDP numbers say about President Buhari and his re-election bid.


Buhari and Emefiele

President Buhari promised to revive agriculture, and diversify the Nigerian economy. His government, in partnership with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) launched the Anchor’s Borrowers Programme (ABP) to empower smallholder farmers in the country.

The GDP numbers show that Buhari’s plan in agricuture has been working — beyond the rhetoric, as agriculture now contributes over three times more to the Nigerian economy, than oil does.

“Four activities make up the Agricultural sector: Crop Production, Livestock, Forestry and Fishing. sector grew by 18.58% year-on-year in nominal terms in Q4 2018, showing an increase of 8.45% points from the same quarter of 2017,” the NBS report read.

“Crop Production remains the major driver of the sector, accounting for 89.84% of nominal agriculture GDP. On an annual basis, agriculture GDP grew by 14.27%, higher than 11.29% recorded in 2017, The sector contributed 23.08% to nominal GDP in Q4 2018 , which is higher than its contribution in Q4 2017”.

There are evidence of growth in virtually every part of the agriculture sector, despite the floods recorded in the year under review.


Buhari’s major economic policy document is the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP). The president and his team say they have remained committed to the plan, which they say will make Nigeria grow again.

According to the plan, and 2018 budget projections, the Buhari administration forecast that the economy would grow by 3.5 percent in 2018. But based on the GDP numbers released on Tuesday, the economy grew by a sluggish 1.93 percent.

On the economy, Buhari’s government has been delivering slow, but steady growth, since exiting recession in 2017.


While Nigeria does not want to fixate its economic prosperity on oil and gas, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo had made it clear that Nigeria needs oil money to get out of oil dependence.

As the country shifts to the non-oil sector, there is a need to make as much money as the country can make from oil to develop other sectors of the economy. But Nigeria is not making the most of oil.

“In the fourth quarter of 2018, average daily oil production stood at 1.91 million barrels per day (mbpd). This was lower than the 1.95 mbpd recorded in the same quarter of 2017, and 1.94mbpd in Q3 2018,” NBS estimates.

This is less than budgetary benchmarks of 2.3 million barrels per day projected by the Buhari administration, and less than production levels under previous governments.

Despite an increase in oil prices in 2018, Nigeria “recorded a real GDP growth rate of –1.62% (year-on-year) in Q4 2018, indicating a decline of –12.81% points relative to the growth rate recorded in the corresponding quarter of 2017”.

This highlights a production problem in the oil sector.


Fayemi stepped down as minister in 2018

Following the appointment of Kayode Fayemi as the minister of mines and steel development, the Buhari admin made significant progress in mining across the country.

But the numbers show that there has been a drop in the reality of the sector.

“In real terms, the Mining and Quarrying sector grew by –1.23% in Q4 2018. This was lower than rate recorded in Q4 2017 (10.7%) but higher than the growth rate in Q3 2018 (-2.81%).

“The sector’s contribution to real GDP in Q4 2018 stood at 7.23%, slightly lower than its contribution of 7.49% recorded in Q4 2017 and the 9.53% recorded in the Q3 2018. The sector contributed 8.74% to total real GDP in 2018.”


Buhari’s foreign exchange policy has been to limit what is being imported into Nigeria and increase what is being produced locally. With the support of the Central Bank of Nigeria, the government has been very strict on this.

The numbers show that Buhari’s plan is paying off, as Nigeria’s manufacturing sector seems to be booming.

“In the fourth quarter of 2018, nominal GDP growth for the Manufacturing sector was recorded at 33.57%, which is 24.37% points higher than the rate recorded in the corresponding period of 2017 (9.20%)”.

Buhari is pro-local manufacturing, and the numbers are on his side.


Telecommunications has soared under the leadership of Umar Danbatta

“Telecommunications & Information Services under Information and Communication sector grew by 16.67% in Q4 2018 from 14.97% in Q3 2018 and -3.28% in Q4 2017,” the report read.

Nigeria’s telecoms sector is contributing immensely to the country’s gross domestic product, and has continued on an upward trend from third quarter 2017 to date.


While the information and communications sector of the economy has been doing so well under Buhari, the section of it, which makes up a large part of Nollywood — Motion Pictures, Sound recording and Music production — has not been doing so well.

Its been a rough road with the Buhari administration: In Q2 2017, the sector shrank by 4.53 percent, and recorded growth of 1.02 percent by the end of the year, only to shrink by 2.29 percent by Q2 2018.

At the end of the year under review (2018), the sector grew 0.55 percent.

The same zig-zag growth and decline have been recorded in the broadcasting, arts, entertainment and recreation sectors of the economy.

Obasanjo may have said Buhari is weak with the economy, the incumbent may have said he has done well with the economy. But what do the numbers say to you?