One of the many imponderables from the results of the voting held in the country throughout April, is why Nigerians returned to office a party with a great history behind it. The PDP was at its most impressive some eight years ago. That was when we had this slew of reforms: against corruption in public places; to make the public procurement process more effective; the oil price-based fiscal rule, and its moderating effect on the public expenditure management framework; etc. Indeed, in the face of fierce push-back from folks like yours truly, government went ahead and paid down on the nation’s external debt.
But even these halcyon days concealed more than they revealed. Such was the nature of official cynicism then that eventually, even this impressive legislative agenda was gutted. We ended up building gas fired power plants in places where gas pipelines are not scheduled to reach in aeons. Inevitably, the PDP has superintended over 12 years of stasis. The oft-cited growth in output (over 7% in the last decade) disagregates poorly. Agric is almost half of this. Sadly, productivity in this sector has not been the result of improvements in techniques/new investments. Largely rainfed, the agriculture sector has grown as the area under cultivation has grown. Of course, the possibilities here are finite. Add the energy sector’s contribution of about 20% and it is not readily clear what government has done to improve our peoples’ lot.
Voting in the same government is counter-intuitive. Accordingly, the new argument is that voters lifted the veil on the party, and saw the persons. Now, there are persuasive limits to how much commentary one could make on an incumbent government before one is the beneficiary of armed visitors. But one statistic is compelling: under this government, we have made more from oil export revenue than we have been blessed with previously.