2016 proved to be a difficult year for Nigeria which saw the highs and lows of important metrics. Sadly, there were highs where there should have been lows, and lows where there should have been highs. We had highs in inflation, in unemployment and in deaths from famine while the lows were in oil and tax earnings, FDI, in percentage of CAPEX budget spent, and the list goes on. A summary shows that we were spot on in 79% of our projections for the year.
2016 was the year when the Buhari administration would run its first full year budget, starting the year with a cabinet in place and all the urgency to tackle the issues that had begun to accelerate was expected. Sadly, this was not to be. From the fiasco around passing the budget, to bungled attempts at FX policy, a deterioration in the security situation, and policy flip flops, historians will view 2016 as a lost opportunity to reset Nigeria and set it on the path to turnaround its fortunes.
The key question that begs answers is if the quality of life of Nigerians has improved in 2016 as against the previous year, and the ultimate purpose of our year ahead must be to paint the picture of what the life of the Nigerian as an individual and Nigeria as a nation will be in 2017 amidst the myriad of domestic and international pressures the year will bring. We reiterate that government’s role is not to simply explain, but to plan for, direct and react appropriately to these pressures in order to deliver a better quality of life to Nigerians.
2017 is a year that will start off tough for the Nigerian state and we have not seen signs that the current government understands this, or has taken cognisance of this in their planning. It appears to us that the government has pinned all of its hopes on oil prices rising. While we predict that this will happen in a short window and provide some respite, this will be short-lived especially considering the fundamental crisis of confidence the government’s actions and policies have created in 2016. This, coupled with the instability that the security issues will create, makes the outlook for the Nigerian state a gloomy one.
2017 is a year in which the average Nigerian will be forced to cut down. The key mantra will be to conserve cash, and cut down on excess spending as things get tighter. Where payments can be structured so that they can be made in instalments over time, most will vigorously pursue this option in order to manage cash flow. Opportunities will present themselves to pick up assets for below market prices as people try to raise money, and it is those who have conserved their cash that will be in a position to take advantage of such opportunities.
It will be important to attempt to create, and grow, additional streams of income as we predict that there will be more job losses. Key investments in enhancing job skills and alternate skills will be important as employees seek to improve their productivity and raise the chances of retaining their jobs.
Safety and a security consciousness will become the watchword as we crime such as kidnapping and armed robbery will rise as people become more desperate to make ends meet.
The urbanization trend will continue, driven by security concerns as well as economic pressures, and delivering goods or services to the growing urban population who typically move to the fringes of the urban centres initially will provide such opportunities.
The average Nigerian will also find healthcare more challenging and will need to be wary of fake drugs. Maintaining a healthy and fit lifestyle to avoid illness will be an advantage.