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Buhari's "change" a bitter pill for Nigerians to swallow

Buhari’s “change” not what Nigerians expected

Reuters News Agency senior Nigeria correspondent Alexis Akwagyiram was interviewed on the US’s National Public Radio yesterday. He was asked how he would describe President Muhammadu Buhari’s first year in office.

Akwagyiram responded: “They’ve [Nigerians] definitely seen it as change. And that’s the ticket that he won the election on, a change agenda. The crucial thing is that I don’t think that it’s the change that Nigerians expected. They expected that he would bring about changes whereby life would get easier and better.

“And rather, what’s happened is that life has become harder for Nigerians because they felt the impact of low oil prices and, I mean, the Central Bank governor said that a recession now looks imminent. Now, that’s not to say it’s Buhari’s fault. I mean, that’s just the reality of the shock to the system where the country’s so heavily dependent on oil, and look what’s happened to the price of oil in that time”.

Alexis Akwagyiram, Reuters Nigeria correspondent
Alexis Akwagyiram, Reuters Nigeria correspondent

On Buhari’s decision to stop propping up the naira, Akwagyiram said: “More than anything, there’s a lot of shock, frankly, because Buhari has really dug his heels in on this. And for about the last year, since he took office in May, he has been adamant that as far as he was concerned any removal of that peg would be tantamount to killing the naira.

“So there’s, number one, been surprise. And number two, it’s been welcomed all around, simply as being a common sense solution to the problems that have been experienced in this country because Nigeria is going through its deepest economic crisis for decades. Beyond that, there has been a spike in attacks in the Niger Delta where the vast majority of oil in Nigeria is produced. So that’s nearly halved all production in the last few months. So where’s the money going to come from? He – you know, he needed to do something”.

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