•The year will be the most traumatic since the months leading to the 1967-1970 Civil War
•Why the next President will be a Sacrificial Lamb
•Credible elections doubtful; INEC not as ready as they claim
•Things will get worse before they get better
NEW YEAR SPECIAL REPORT BY DR. DELE SOBOWALE
“People who bring good news are never in fault.”
George Eliot, VBQ, VBQ p 172.Eliot was right of course. People are more eager to bring that directly affected good news than bad news. Unfortunately, honest economic, social and political forecasters and prophets don’t have a choice about what they predict about the future – particularly with regard to the fate of their country. They are obligated to announce what they know and what has been revealed to them; and damn the consequences. Some of those repercussions can be unpleasant. Despite the possibility of attack, a false predictor soon becomes a laughing stock.
This is the second year VANGUARD will demonstrate the courage to request a broad prediction of what Nigerians can expect in 2023. This is also the second year that I will be trusted with that extremely important task. I feel honoured and humbled by the responsibility.
It is always risky undertaking to foresee the future. Most of us have a difficult time determining what will happen tomorrow. That is why this particular assignment is preceded by months of research and analysis – after which a model is used to arrive at tentative conclusions. I am not God; so it is impossible to be 100 per cent accurate.
TAKEAWAYS FROM THE 2022 FORECASTS
“You are only as good as your last show.” Hollywood Actors Guild.
Most managers of businesses or organizations are not aware that they are also forecasters. But, every budget presentation involves making predictions about revenues and expenses in the future. Every new budget would usually start with a review of the out-going year. All the stakeholders have every reason to want to know how accurate management was with the last budget. Therefore, permit me to summarise the takeaways from the predictions made about 2022.
“Definers of Nigeria’s fate in 2022: “the list includes the following: insecurity, economy, politics and governance, food security, education, pandemic, cyber crimes, illicit drugs, Election 2023 and leadership.”
Only two issues did not cause us as much anxiety as I thought – pandemics and cyber crime. As for the rest, please be reminded of the following:
• The fact that 322 policemen and 642 soldiers were killed in Nigeria within the last one year reflects several facts which point to heightened insecurity.
• On Economy: ”Expect these: hyper-inflation, purchasing power loss, lower industrial capacity utilization, job losses….by the second half over 55% of revenue will go into debt-servicing….exchange rate will rise above N600/US$1…more Nigerians will dive below the poverty line…very low Foreign Direct Investment, FDI, should be expected…maximum power generation will not exceed 5,300MW and will not be steady.
• On politics, the following predictions were made: “The political parties will add their violence to existing ones…Politics takes precedence over governance, President and Governors abandon Government Houses for campaign trails….AN ALARM HAS BEEN SOUNDED TO CHRISTIANS WITH RESPECT TO 2023 ELECTIONS. BEWARE OF THOSE WITH MUSLIM-MUSLIM AGENDA; WHILE PRETENDING OTHERWISE.
• On food security: Anchor Borrowers Programme, ABP is in deep trouble’
• On education: “More children and their parents will turn their backs on schools…ASUU WILL AGAIN GO ON ANOTHER PROLONGED STRIKE.
• On Illicit Drugs: “more drug seizures by NDLEA…pressure to legalise the ‘medical use’ of marijuana and cannabis…courts inundated with drug-related cases…prisons over-crowded with drug offenders awaiting trial.
• On Leadership: “Six and a half years and seven Christmasses, under Buhari, have rolled by like a parade of mourners – each more sombre than the last. Christmas, as we know it, has been deleted until further notice.
The reader can determine if those forecasts were accurate or not.
THE OUTLOOK FOR 2023
Let me present the conclusion before the evidence. Generally, things are going to get worse before they get better for Nigeria. The year will be the most traumatic for us since the tense months leading to the Civil War, 1967-1970.
The order of predictions will be altered to reflect our most urgent and influential issues. They are: Election 2023, politics and governance, leadership, insecurity, economy, food security, illicit drugs, education, global turbulence.
As in 2022, the statements will be rendered in bullet points, mostly without elaboration, on account of space constraints. I know the risks involved; it will be almost impossible to deny them if most turn out to be wrong. I am a human being who, like the Weather Forecaster, uses models to determine what is likely to happen in the future.
I cannot be 100 per cent accurate.
So, here we go. But, before we move on, the reader should take particular notice of the prediction about MUSLIM-MUSLIM, MU-MU, ticket in 2023 Elections.
That part of the article was written on December 17, 2021. Today, we now have a MU-MU ticket for 2023. Furthermore, in August 2022, before the party primaries got underway, the point was made that Atiku and Tinubu would emerge as flag bearers. There was no doubt in my mind about who will present the MU-MU ticket and set the stage for a lot of what would follow.
“There are no desperate situations; only desperate men.”
Joseph Goebbels, 1897-1945. Hitler’s propaganda chief.
IF THERE IS A CREDIBLE ELECTION, I KNOW WHO WILL WIN.
Unfortunately there will not be one. The Independent National Election Commission, INEC, will try its best; but, that best will not ensure a free and fair election for the following reasons:
• Pre- and post Election violence will make voting impossible in some states.
• More INEC offices will be attacked and materials destroyed very close to Election days.
• INEC will find it difficult, if not impossible to find staff willing to risk working in parts of some states.
• Parties will also find it difficult to recruit agents for many areas.
• Independent observers will also avoid certain areas.
• INEC, party agents and observers risk kidnap or assassination.
• The results will be widely rejected.
• Irrespective of what the security agents will do, violence cannot be ruled out.
• INEC is not as prepared as they claim to be. Proof: “INEC needs 100,000 vehicles, 4200 boats – Yakubu. Report.
December 21, 2022. With less than eight weeks to Election Day, only a miracle can produce the required vehicles and boats; as well as reliable operators of the vehicles.
The Elections will only complicate the problems of the country in many ways – because most everything else depends on the outcome of it.
POLITICS AND GOVERNANCE
“Politicians are their own grave diggers.” Will Rogers, 1879-1935.
It would have been bad enough if Nigerian politicians dig only their own graves; they also send many fellow citizens to the cemetery. Nigeria, unfortunately, has a set of politicians, who have no other means of livelihood than political appointments and contracts. As the country heads into economic distress, (more on that later) they will not accept any result that is not favourable to them.
Already, despite a great deal of uncertainty about the year, we are certain to experience the following:
• At least two Presidents will rule us; may be more.
• The Buhari administration will abandon governance for five months.
• Its successor(s) will inherit a monumental mess; which will need the rest of the year to sort out.
• With the exception of a few states, governance at state levels will also be in disarray; most successors will inherit debt that will shock them..
• Because several state Governors are behind the current wave of violence in their states, security forces will be over-stretched and even some of them might become complicit in the unrest that will follow.
• The Treasuries of most States, already broke, will be looted by departing officials.
• The 2023 Budgets approved for out-going Governors will be mostly exhausted by May 29.
“3434 Drug offenders convicted in 22 months – NDLEA.”
Report. December 21, 2022.
For every conviction, there are at least two suspects awaiting trial in various detention centres nationwide. And for every person apprehended, there are at least two others eager to try their luck – for the right price.
• 2022 was a record year for drug seizures; 2023 appears set to break that record.
• Global drug addiction, now reaching primary school children globally, as well as in Nigeria, will continue to surge.
• NDLEA, the Police, Customs and the Courts will continue to be overwhelmed.
• Every drug baron arrested is frequently quickly replaced in an area; some continue to operate their network from prison.
• One of Nigeria’s three largest banks (name withheld) might be indicted for aiding drug trafficking and associated money-laundering. It receives the lion’s share of deposits from convicted drug offenders. The principle of Know Your Customer has been completely abandoned by the bank.
“Buhari seeks fresh N819bn loans; domestic debts hit N22.5m.”
Reports, December 22, 2022.
Bad politics seldom produces good economy – unless there is divine intervention. The 2023 Elections are destined to result in the worst sort of politics we have experienced in decades.
In addition, all the repercussions of atrocious management of the Nigerian economy under Buhari will manifest themselves. These include, but are not limited to:
• Unsustainable debt stock; the revenue budget, as well as approved loans will be exhausted by May.
• The next government will start by requesting for Supplementary Budget and more loans.
• Refusal to deal honestly with fuel price.
• Maintenance of an over-bloated Federal Civil Service, FCS
• Self-induced high inflation.
A government, which, in the last month of a financial year, is seeking almost N1 trillion in fresh loans, to be sourced from the domestic market, has already instigated higher inflation rates for the first quarter, Q1, of 2023. Fortunately, crude oil production will come to the rescue.
Consequently, Nigerians can expect the following:
• With the embargo on Russian crude by the US and NATO going into effect in December 2022, the global crude oil outlook will be unpredictable and turbulent.
• Higher crude oil production; averaging above 1.6 million barrels per day, mbpd.
• Higher average crude price for the year.
• Lower crude oil theft; more crude oil revenue.
• The US and EU are determined to bring down domestic inflation. US Federal Reserve Bank has again increased interest rates; and will increase again.
• For Nigeria, it means cost of external debts will rise; domestic interest rates will also go up.
• A global recession is likely.
• Diaspora remittances will decline as Nigerians abroad face bad times.
• Most Foreign Direct Investment, FDI for Nigeria will be shelved until the political situation is sorted out.
• After a slight rise, exchange rate will stabilize for a while; at about N800/US$1.
• Inflation will rise to about 25 per cent; then stabilize; then start dropping.
• FUEL SUBSIDY WILL CERTAINLY BE REMOVED.
• Fuel supply will be erratic at first; then stabilize at a higher price later in the year.
• Although his tenure extends till 2024, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, will probably depart in 2023 – irrespective of who becomes President.
“Fake farmers benefiting from ABP – AFAN.” Report, December 8, 2022
The All Farmers Association of Nigeria made this announcement to explain why the programme failed. AFAN also alleged that many of the recipients of loans in the North are not Nigerians. Even if only partly true, the point remains clear. You cannot grant loans to fake farmers and expect abundant food supply or expect your money back.
• Anchor Borrowers Programme, ABP, was inevitably terminated by the Central Bank of Nigeria for three reasons: It has failed miserably, it was politicised and it was misconceived. One trillion naira was allocated to it; the bank will recover far less. The cotton sector serves as proxy for all its defects. The lion’s share of the loans went to one individual from Katsina State, now deceased. That is mostly the end of the story for that loan. CBN was forced to fund a fiscal policy programme; for which it was not established; and had no experience.
• Food scarcity will persist with the termination of the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, ABP, and the after-shocks of the 2022 flood.
• Millions of farmers have since 2015 been dependent on ABP loans to operate; they end 2022 heavily indebted as a result of flood, herdsmen and banditry. They have nothing with which to work in 2023.
• At least three million have abandoned farming altogether. They are not anxious to return; and they are not being replaced.
• Expect another flood in 2023; perhaps worse than the last one.
• Impact of climate change will be more severe in 2023 overall.
“The foremost art of kings is the power to endure hatred.” Seneca the Younger
“A leader of whom it is said ‘he is a nice man’ is lost.” Napoleon
“I hope to stand firm enough not to go backward; and yet not go forward fast enough to wreck the country’s cause.” US President Abraham Lincoln.
If Nigeria somehow navigates the perils of the 2023 Elections, our greatest need to avert catastrophe will be exceptional leadership. The mountain of disasters that the next President will inherit from Buhari – unsustainable debt, 133 million living in poverty, 20 million out of school children, herdsmen and bandits, infrastructural deficit, high unemployment, historically high inflation and low revenue generation — already cast him as a sacrificial lamb.
More than ever, we need a real statesman; not a politician. Politicians think of the next election; statesmen work for the next generation and beyond. If we fortunately elect one, he will unfortunately have only seven months in 2023 to act. Buhari would have messed up the first five months. That is why our next President needs a lot of advice from others who were there long before him – like Seneca and Lincoln. Few Presidents have faced such a daunting task.
We head into 2023 with several unavoidable leadership problems. Obviously, there will be no continuity in style. That is bad enough. That is why the leading candidates and their parties should give us serious concern. APC and PDP are both deeply divided. Labour and NNDP candidates are leading members who are almost strangers to one another. Any way you look at it, the winner of the election will spend virtually all the rest of the year building a united governing team; without which nothing will work.
Our next President must be prepared to take tough decisions on:
• Debt financing.
• Fuel subsidy.
• Insecurity – particularly herdsmen menace.
• Crude oil
To achieve success, he must be ready to be hated by a lot of people; he must have a development strategy anchored on deliberate speed.
Unfortunately, none of the leading candidates has presented a Manifesto indicating that they fully understand the problems they will inherit. Consequently, 2023 will be more challenging for Nigerians – unless there is Divine intervention.
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