Nigerian President Continues to Fight Corruption and Downtrodden Economy

March 1, 2016Nigeriaby EW News Desk Team

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After a year in office, President Muhammadu Buhari has failed to kick-start the economy, but he presses forward. Corruption, depleted foreign reserves, and lower oil prices remain an impediment to progress, but the new president has time to make additional reforms. Nigeria also suffers from a skyrocketing unemployment rate that has forced many people to turn to crime and religious extremism.

Buhari is only a year into his term, but he got off to a rocky start by governing without a ministry cabinet nearly halfway into his term, among other problems. Moreover, the president has been taking the fight to terrorist group Boko Haram, an organization that has taken thousands of lives while claiming portions of Nigerian land. Buhari has plenty to tackle, but his previous experience as ruling general during the 1980s has prepared him for the job. With that, Nigeria faces a much different political and economic climate when compared to previous decades, and time will tell whether Buhari rises to the occasion.

The good news is that Nigeria is diversifying its economy, developing the agriculture sector as a viable alternative, but such a strategy will take time, and it will not be enough to address the West African nation’s mounting crisis in the short-term. Buhari, however, has reached an agreement with Senate President Bukola Saraki to ensure that the economy is fully diversified while maximizing non-oil sectors, according to The Premium Times.

World oil prices hover around $30 barrel, but Nigeria needs pricing to reach at least $120 a barrel to fuel the domestic economy, an outcome unlikely to happen in the near future. Saraki has criticized Nigeria’s overreliance on oil and has pledged to issue long-term stabilization policies, but he will inevitably face obstacles, most notably corruption.

Not only has the state’s oil money been raided and misused by crooked politicians, but also Nigeria has a shady history of paying its leaders obscene salaries, and corruption is a primary factor hampering economic and financial success. Nigeria's finances are dire to the point where policymakers are considering asking the African Development Bank and the World Bank for financial assistance in closing the budget gap, notes CNN Money. On a positive note, the government is cleaning house, as evident in the cut of 23,000 ghost jobs in the public sector that drained precious state resources.

These are accounts that remain non-existent, or exist under a false alias. The anti-corruption audit will save the treasury over $11 million in monthly wages, a testament to Buhari’s campaign pledge to rid the system of fraud and abuse. He also hopes the corruption crusade will reduce the nation’s budget deficit, and although it will not be enough to save Nigeria economically, fostering a transparent government is a step in the right direction.

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