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RipplesMetrics: Nigeria’s key economic trends, as Buhari’s aides label Obasanjo failure (1)



In recent days, the media had been inundated with commentaries by critics, especially of the All Progressives Congress (APC) hue, slamming former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

This follows the former President’s decision to name the Labour Party candidate, Peter Obi, as his preferred candidate ahead of the 2023 presidential elections.

Obasanjo in his new year message titled, “My appeal to all Nigerians particularly Young Nigerians,” solicited the support for his preferred candidate. This expectedly did not go down well with the ruling party and the presidency.

In a quick response, Garba Shehu Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to President Muhammdu Buhari, described Obasanjo as a ‘morally dirty man for endorsing Peter Obi’.

He noted that Obasanjo didn’t just endorse Peter Obi, but also attacked the records of President Buhari hence the need for a reply.

According to him, the records have to be set right and the facts have to be stated. Shehu further argued that the performance of president Buhari shines more brightly and cannot be compared with that of former president Obasanjo.

While the brickbats between both Obasanjo and the president are to be expected, especially in an election year, many Nigerians who will be voting will prioritize jobs, economic progress, Naira stability, lower inflation, and increased government income to pay debt, among other things, as key issues of concern.

List of Nigeria’s presidents since 1999

In the words of Maya Angelou, an American memoirist, popular poet, and civil rights activist, “If you don’t know where you have come from, you don’t know where you’re going.”

Since the return to democracy in 1999 Nigeria has had four presidents, three of who are from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), while the last and incumbent president is from the All Progressives Congress (APC).

A breakdown of Nigeria’s past presidents from 1999 to date is given below:

• Olusegun Obasanjo – 29th May 1999 to 29th May 2007 (PDP)

• Umaru Musa Yar’Adua – 29th May 2007 to 5th May 2010 (PDP)

• Goodluck Ebele Jonathan – 6th May 2010 to 29th May 2015 (PDP)

• Muhammadu Buhari (2015-2023)

Measuring the performance of the presidents

The economy has always been the acceptable metrics to determine a president’s performance.

In these two-part series, RipplesMetrics will be using seven economic metrics. The metrics are GDP growth rate, inflation, employment, exchange rate, foreign reserves, non-oil export, public debt profile and debt per capita.

The data are sourced from the Central Bank of Nigeria and the National Bureau of Statistics.

A look at the numbers

GDP growth rate

Let’s kickstart our comparative analysis with Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate.

GDP is a measure used to evaluate the health of a country’s economy. It is the total value of the goods and services produced in a country during a specific period of time, usually a year.

READ ALSO:RipplesMetrics: States with the highest transport fares as fuel scarcity hits Nigerians again

A breakdown of the GDP performance across the four president shows culmulatively, Musa Yar’Adua’s leads the table.

However, Nigeria recorded the biggest growth in its GDP under Obasanjo’s administration.

During the administration of President Buhari, Nigeria recorded two recessions(negative growth rate).

The best year was 2002 [15.3%] and the Worst year — 2020 [-1.92%].

The table below provides a full breakdown


The rising inflation rate has been a major bane of the Nigerian economy and has recently been a topical issue, given the fast rise in the prices of goods and services in the country, and across the globe.

Of the four presidents, Nigeria recorded its highest average inflation rate under the current Muhammadu Buhari administration which according to NBS latest figure is at 21.47% in November 2022.

The table below provides a full breakdown

Foreign reserves

Nigeria’s external reserves are an accumulation of foreign exchange that is held on behalf of the government by the Central Bank.

It is critical for the country to be able to pay for its imports, fund forex demands and to a large extent stabilize the exchange rate.

Thus, for Nigerian presidents past and present, being able to leave behind a sizeable external reserve is also considered a mark of success.

Among the four presidents, Nigeria achieved the highest external reserve at the end of September 2009 at $62 billion. This was during the Yar’Adua administration.

As at Thursday, January 5, 2023, Nigeria’s external reserves stood at $37.15 billion.

Here is a breakdown of how much each president left after leaving office:

Exchange rate

Nigeria’s exchange rate has consistently depreciated since 1999, but under the administration of Buhari it went to another level.

In fact, 2022 depreciation has been the worst in a single year.

As at press time, the Naira is trading at over N460/$1 at the Investors and Exporters window, while in the parallel market, it has hit N760/$1.

The chart below shows the movement of Nigeria’s exchange rate from 1999 to date.

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