Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice President has once again thrown his hat into the ring to contest for president in the 2023 general elections. Atiku is not a stranger to the Nigerian political scene. The 75-year-old since his retirement as a customs officer has contested for the governorship position before he was elected as Vice President in 1999, where he served two terms under Olusegun Obasanjo. Since his stint as Vice President, he has contested to be Nigeria’s president twice and he’s been unsuccessful. The 2023 general election will be the third time he will be contesting to be Nigeria’s numero uno.
The Nigerian economy is a toast to presidential hopefuls ahead of the 2023 elections, as many have unveiled plans on how they will improve the economy. Atiku has wasted no time in revealing his economic Agenda for Nigeria in a document tagged “My Covenant with Nigerians”.
The document contains is 5-point agenda for Nigeria, which also includes his plans to improve the Nigerian economy. Atiku has revealed that his economic plans are driven by three basic principles; Reaffirm private sector participation in development, break the government monopoly on all infrastructure sectors, and allow the market greater leverage in determining prices. This topic dissects his economic plans for Nigeria.
This article focuses on three of Atiku’s economic agendas for Nigeria which Nigeria truly needs to be efficient.
25,000MW of power
Despite being Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria has over the years struggled to provide stable electricity, and meet the electricity demand of its citizens. According to reports, despite having the capacity to produce 13,000 MW, Nigeria generates a ‘meagre’ 5,000MW for its 215 million citizens. The electricity demand has led to the collapse of the National Grid more than 5 times in 2022.
The reliance on electricity has grown like never before, as the alternative in petroleum products is on the high for the average Nigerian. South Africa is currently Africa’s second-largest economy and it generates 55,000MW for its 58 million citizens. This means South Africa generates over 1000% of MW for its citizens, despite having a population about 400% less than Nigeria.
Atiku noted that he hopes to achieve 25,000MW through a “mix of non-renewable energy (hydro, solar, nuclear) and other thermal fuels (coal, biofuel) in addition to natural gas. He also hopes to achieve 10,000-15,000MW in the short run, before hitting the target. Nigeria currently generates electricity through Therma and Hydro. Generating electricity from other sources is important, South Africa generates a big part of its electricity through Coal which Nigeria has in abundance.
Refining capacity of 2 million barrels of crude oil
Despite having four refineries with a combined capacity of refining 445,00 bpd, Nigeria has never refined a litre of fuel. The moribund nature of the refineries harms the economy, as the country has to pay more to import petroleum products. Despite Crude Oil being Nigeria’s largest export, petroleum products are Nigeria’s biggest import. According to reports, Nigeria has lost its place as Africa’s largest producer of oil to Angola with the production capacity dropping to 1.02 million bpd.
In his plans, Atiku noted that the country should refine 2 million bpd by 2027. In context, Nigeria doesn’t currently produce up to 2 million barrels per day, which means the country has consistently failed to meet the OPECs quota. If Nigeria doesn’t produce up to 2 million barrels, refining 2 million barrels is unrealistic, taking into account factors bedevilling the oil and gas sector such as oil theft, and illegal refineries amongst others. Also, Nigeria’s refineries capacity is not up to 500,000 bpd, the coming of a refinery like Dangote with a capacity of 650,000 bpd, will only augment production to about 1m bpd.
3 million new jobs and 10 million people lifted out of poverty annually
Successive governments in Nigeria since the start of the 4th republic have made promises of lifting Nigerians out of poverty. Despite promises made, Nigerians have continued to sink deeper into the poverty line. According to reports, the number of poor Nigerians is expected to hit 95.1 million, representing about 40% of the population. The number has steadily increased in the last three years.
With Nigeria’s unemployment rate, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has revealed that Nigeria will need to create 5 million jobs annually for the next 10 years to close the gap. Atiku has made no plans on how to lift 10 million people out of poverty and creation of 3 million new jobs annually. Looking at the records of previous promises by presidential hopefuls, this may be another promise to sway the citizens.
As the flag bearer of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku’s economic plans are feasible to boost the Nigerian economy. The question is can he execute it?