WHAT IT MEANS
here will be 11 candidates on the ballot during Nigeria’s presidential elections next month, but the real contest will be between two of them. The incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan is seeking a second and final term on the platform of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
He is competing against the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate Muhammadu Buhari, a former military dictator who has emerged as the runner-up in the past three presidential elections.
Whoever wins on February 14 will inherit an economy facing its toughest spell since the global economic recession of 2008.
The 50% drop in oil prices since June last year has hit Nigeria badly. It is Africa’s largest producer and it depends on oil exports for 70% of federal revenues.
A recent HSBC report projects that 2015 oil revenues will be Nigeria’s lowest in six years, at US$26bn. This is less than half of 2011 earnings, and one-third lower than last year’s.
Nigeria’s annual budgets are predicated on a perbarrel “benchmark” price of oil; earnings above that price are meant for a special savings fund. The benchmark initially proposed was $78 – higher than the $77,50 for the 2014 budget – before it was revised to $65, in light of the current reality. A year ago things were more upbeat: 2014 opened with oil prices close to $100. The controversial suspension of Central Bank governor Lamido Sanusi by Jonathan in February stunned the markets, but only fleetingly.
In April it emerged that Nigeria had — after a long overdue rebasing which revealed that the economy was almost twice