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TRUST DIALOGUE: Buhari’s team left Nigerian economy worse – Kabir Yusuf 

The Chairman of Media Trust Group, Mallam Kabir Yusuf, on Thursday, took a swipe at the managers of the Nigerian economy in the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari.

Speaking at the 21st Daily Trust dialogue in Abuja, Yusuf said Buhari’s economic team “left things worse than they met them.”

He said the team, at the beginning, gave an impression of taking Nigerians to the “promised land” but the economy became more vulnerable than resilient.

Buhari governed Nigeria between 2015 and 2023. During the period, Nigerian economy slipped into recession on two occasions — 2016 and 2020.

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In the eight years of Buhari’s presidency, the inflation rate rose to 22.41 percent from 9.01 percent in 2015, according to official data.

Official foreign exchange rate was N197/USD and the parallel market rate was N220/USD in May 2015.

In May 2023, the official foreign exchange rate was N465/USD while at the parallel market, it was N740/USD.

In 2023, total public debt had ballooned to N77 trillion while the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), in a 2022 report, said 133 million Nigerians were multi-dimensionally poor.

Yusuf said, “Seems like yesterday, but in January 2017, early in the days of the Buhari government, the topic of our dialogue was ‘Beyond Recession: Towards a resilient economy.’

“Kemi Adeosun, the then minister of finance was there, so was Godwin Emefiele, then governor of the Central Bank.

“Some of us left that meeting feeling, here at last are the people that will take us to the promised land.

“Mrs Adeosun spoke in crisp, Queen’s English, though one wondered if such a youngish, former finance commissioner of a state could handle Nigeria’s complex, fiscal federalism.

“Godwin Emefiele, who continued as Central Bank Governor under Buhari, seemed to master the numbers, though at that time, he was not accused of cooking them.

“Sadly, the economy has become more vulnerable than resilient. The Buhari team, by most economic measures, left things worse than they met them.

“They have their excuses, and are actively trying to whitewash this record. But as the Nigerian economy goes into a tailspin, its managers, in the last decade, cannot account for their mandate in one or two book launches.”

Yusuf said over the years, politicians, who promised to address the country’s socio economic challenges, were getting more creative while things have, in reality, remained the same.

Describing Nigeria as a country that continues to live on hope, he said Nigerian leaders were not doing much to actualise the hope they promised the citizens.

“When old hope dies, a new one is created to replace it. Welcome to the era of Renewed Hope Agenda,” he said, referring to the slogan of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s government.

Yusuf also raised question on the “desire and discipline” of Tinubu’s presidency to deliver on the difficult economic reforms he had embarked on.

“The President has a possible eight years in office. This is the time to interrogate and influence his agenda,” he said.

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