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Analysts differ on economic impact of President Buhari’s 51-day absence

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Former governor of Lagos State Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, President Muhammadu Buhari and former national chairman of APC Chief Bisi Akande at Abuja House, London PHOTO: TWITTER/PRESIDENCY

Economists and public policy analysts have expressed divergent views on the cost implications of President Muhammadu Buhari’s absence for 51 days from the country on medical vacation in the United Kingdom.

While some of them hold the view that the economy suffered great loss in terms of loss of investment deals to the tune of $200 billion, others said that the economy didn’t incur any loss because Acting President Yemi Osinbajo did a fantastic job back home.

A development economist, Mr. Odilim Enwegbara explained that Buhari’s vacation had a negative impact on the economy. Enwegbara said since the global economy is mostly confidence-driven, the fact that the president of Nigeria was not only out of the country for such a fairly lengthy period, but that there was little information about his true state of his health, was a cause of worry for foreign and domestic investors, who would want to wait until clear information is available to them. This is more so for such an overly centralised economy like Nigeria.

“So, whatever way we look at it, the long absence of the president has cost the nation a lot of money. Should we quantify such a cost, it would not be less than $200 billion in monetary losses,” he said.

The economist further argued that had the National Bureau of Statistics conducted an investor opinion survey, it would have been discovered that many important investment decisions were stalled during the period the president was out of the country.

He explained that the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo was hardly able to take some radical economic decisions so as not to be labelled disloyal or wanting the job for himself. Also, the ministers are the president’s appointees and not the acting president’s, so, their natural loyalty was always with the president.

Aligning with Enwegbara is a lawyer and an economist, who is the Executive Director of Institute of Fiscal Studies, Mr. Godwin Ighedosa, who though said it was impossible to attach a cost value to the president’s absence from the country.

He said the economy no doubt suffered a lull in investment inflow into the country. He however, maintained that Osinbajo handled the economy well because activities were going at a sound pace in the management of the economy. But long-term investment deals may have suffered because foreign investors would think of a power vacuum and hold back their investments.

For public sector finance analyst and Lead Director of Centre for Social Justice, Mr. Eze Onyekpere and another economist, Dr. Emmanuel Anoliefo, both said the president was not missed at all as far as the economy is concerned.



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