Nigeria’s Economy Will Worsen If Buhari Is Re-Elected, Challenger Says

(Bloomberg) -- Nigeria needs to be led by a technocrat and its economy will worsen if President Muhammadu Buhari wins a second term in February’s elections, according to presidential candidate Kingsley Moghalu.

“It will worsen because there’s a fundamental level of incompetence in the Muhammadu Buhari presidential administration,” Moghalu, who was a deputy central bank governor until 2014, said in an interview with Bloomberg TV in London. “Politics trumps everything for them. Rational economic thinking is scarce. Nigeria’s problems are largely self-inflicted, politically induced.”

Since taking over Africa’s biggest oil producer in 2015, Buhari has faced a series of challenges, including an economy struggling to recover from the 2014 crash in crude prices, deadly communal clashes spreading across parts of the country and an insurgency by Islamist militants in the northeast.

The main electoral threat will come from the People’s Democratic Party, which governed Nigeria from the end of military rule in 1999 until Buhari’s victory. Several prominent politicians are running for the PDP’s ticket, including former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and Bukola Saraki, the head of the senate.

The 55-year-old Moghalu, who’s from southeastern Nigeria and taught at Tufts University in Boston between 2015 and 2017, will run for the Young Progressive Party.

“Nigerians have come to realize that the old, established and recycled politicians have done them no real favors,” he said. “We’ve been a democracy since 1999, and the country’s just gotten poorer. The trajectory needs to be broken, not by the usual politicians, but by a technocrat, which is what I think I am.”

The central bank should scrap its system of multiple exchange rates because it’s deterring foreign investment, he said.

“We’ll have to move to a floating regime, but I suspect the central bank won’t do that at this time for political reasons,” he said. “You’re subsidizing foreign exchange essentially because the central bank keeps pumping dollars into the market.”

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