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Political and economic outlook in the new year

Joseph Edgar

2019 was mute economically while very exciting on the political side. Inflation hit the double-digit mark, job losses were the order of the day and capacity utilization was off the mark. The economy also enjoyed some spurts of positivity especially with the tremendous growth witnessed in diaspora receipts. The CBN monetary policy held down a stable exchange rate which allowed for some level of stability.

The border closure also came up with some very mixed feelings. The NNPC reported that fuel consumption dropped by about 30%, rice farmers heaved a huge sigh of relieve but second-hand car importers and all other such merchants cried blood.

In general, the economy recorded a tepid performance in all indicators and the All Share index did not give any reason to be excited.

The government reacted at the tail end, with the removal of Tunde Fowler, the Tax Czar with the sole reason of attempting to shore tax revenues. Nigerians where also hit by different kinds of charges and tax. I hear an increase in VAT could be in the offing. A push towards the revamping of infrastructure with rail in the fore front was also canvassed. This would reduce pressure on other forms of transport and considerably reducing pressure on cost of goods in transit thereby positively affecting consumer price index.

The CBN, working with the Bankers committee announced that it would be spending N25b in buiding an Entertainment Park at the National Theatre in Iganmu Lagos. This is a further affirmation to the impact and vast potentials of the industry in diversifying government revenue stream. The Entertainment Industry has shown its vast potentials of impacting on other such growth sectors like tourism, hospitality, transportation and infrastructural development, amongst others.

In the new year, the announcement that the President will not be seeking a new term would go a long way in calming nerves and allowing for some stability needed for long term planning by players.

However, his penchant for spurious appointments which are usually lopsided should be gradually handled so as to deepen the confidence of investors. Appointments to strategic positions should be above board and should be devoid of the current seeming shallow tendencies.

The continuing disco chairs of appointments will not help a resurging economy.
Government would continue in its stringent taxation and customs policy in its bid to shore up its revenues. This would put pressure on SMEs who are expected to drive the economic renaissance. The huge population would continue to support retail based busineses especially in Telecoms, Agric, Entertainement and Food and Beverages.

The political space is where we will expect more drama. The Sowore issue and its handling exposed the lack of maturity on the government side. But thankfully that has been resolved and I hope with lessons learnt.

The continued strengthening of the ruling APC will continue with opposing PDP not showing any signs of getting their acts together. The once firebrand Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, who was the arrowhead of the opposition PDP seems to have lost his tongue and this has had some very debilitating effect on the party.

The party is also still reeling from its defeat in the last Presidential elections and with its loss at the Supreme Court, it looks like it has been beheaded. The ongoing travails of Bukola Saraki in his homestead and his complete routing at the elctions culminating in the loss of his main man Dino Melaye from the Senate seems to have effectively killed that dynasty.

So, APC has only itself to face and there lies the danger. The issue of Edo state being a propoer example. It is looking like Oshiomole and Obaseki are on a thoroughfare to mutual destruction. We continue to wait to see.

The President has said he is not coming out for third term, but we are not seeing any heir apparent, except may be El Rufai whose ambitions can be quickly checked by the zoning formula both intra party and nationally.

Is this the time of the Asiwaju? That is the question. This is already panning out to be a powerfully exciting year, lets ride it.

By Joseph Edgar…

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Ripples Nigeria

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