On 12 February, suspected Islamist militants attacked the convoy of the Borno state governor, Kashim Shettima, on his way to a rally ahead of tomorrow’s election, killing at least three people. The Islamic State West Africa Province took responsibility for the attack in a statement on its Amaq news agency, and claimed that 42 people were killed. The gunmen opened fire at the motorcade transporting Shettima from state capital Maiduguri to the market town of Gamboru for a rally. Three people are confirmed to have died, although a separate security source told Reuters that as many as 10 people were killed during the attack.

Violence broke out on 11 February at the Moshood Abiola Stadium in Abeokuta, the capital of Ogun state. The incident happened at the APC’s presidential rally, and some thugs were arrested following a bloody clash. The clash broke out as thousands of APC supporters and those of the Allied Peoples Movement arrived at the venue of the rally. Both sides involved in the clash—APM supporters who left APC after being denied tickets but supported by the current governor, Ibikunle Amosun (himself an APC senatorial candidate) and the APC in Ogun State both support President Muhammadu Buhari’s reelection bid. The fracas broke out before Buhari’s arrival as he was in Ilorin, Kwara State campaigning in another rally with leaders of the APC.

Nigeria’s GDP grew by 2.38% in the last quarter of 2018 from 1.81% in Q3, a report from the NBS showed on Tuesday. Compared with Q4 2017, growth represents an increase of 0.27%. The country ended the year 2018 with an annual growth rate of 1.93% from 0.82% in 2017 and -1.58% in 2016. The report showed that the oil sector had a real GDP growth rate of -1.62% in Q4 of 2018 as the average daily oil production that period dropped to 1.91 million barrels per day (mbpd) from 1.94 mbpd in Q3 2018 and 1.95 mbpd in Q4 2017. The oil sector contributed 7.06% to real GDP in Q4 2018 while the non-oil sector, the real driver of the growth, contributed 92.94% to real GDP in the same period. The contribution of the non-oil sector was an increase compared to the 92.65% seen in Q4 2017, while it grew by 2.70% in real terms during the Q4 of 2018 witnessing an annual growth rate of 2.00%, a boost from 0.47% seen in 2017, according to NBS. The 1.93% growth rate figure aligns with the projection of the World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund, which had projected that the economy will grow by 1.9% in 2018.

The FG has signed investment agreements with Afreximbank, Bank of Industry and the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority for the creation of special economic zones in the country. The signing, according to President Buhari, will make the Nigeria SEZ Investment Company (NSEZCO) become fully operational. The FG set up NSEZCO as a vehicle for participating in public-private partnerships involving Federal and State governments and local and foreign private investors to develop new special economic zones all over the country, offering world-class infrastructure and facilities at competitive costs. The projects in the pilot phase include Enyimba Economic City, Funtua Cotton Cluster and the Lekki Model Industrial Park.

Commentary

  • This attack on the Borno state governor, and the weaponry which our sources say was deployed by the attackers, buttresses previous points made about how the state is unable to exert control over territory in the northern parts of Borno, allowing ISWAP/Boko Haram to run amok. The governor’s convoy consisted of 85 vehicles, and while only 16 arrived safely at the military’s forward operating base in Gajibo according to intelligence chatter, ISWAP on their part has claimed the capture of ten vehicles. The weapons used by the attackers include Russian made PKMs and rocket-propelled grenades. While the terrorists might not be in full control over the territory, they are able to launch attacks on villages and travellers with frightening ease. This has huge implications for the elections considering the fact that INEC will need to transport election materials and staff to locations within the territory. Considering the Islamists’ avowed stance against democratic activities, it is likely that they will target these officials and attempt to disrupt the elections. We think that Abadam, Gubio, Guzamala, Kaga, Kukawa, Magumeri, Marte, Mobbar, Monguno, and Ngazai are all likely to have very inconclusive elections.
  • The race to win big in the general elections is going down to the wire and as in many states, the political situation in Ogun is highlighting the dysfunction within the ruling APC as the President’s reelection bid hits the home straight. There, Governor Amosun’s anointed successor who was not endorsed by the APC top brass decamped to the APM and the governor has thrown his weight behind this action. That Amosun is still running on an APC senatorial ticket and supports the President’s reelection leaves one unmistakable fact – this double-act is simply an effort in ensuring his continued control of the state’s political levers even after he leaves office in a manner akin to Bola Tinubu’s grip on Lagos politics. With only a day to go till polls open, it is safe to add Ogun to the ‘high risk of open violence’ list.
  • It is positive that GDP growth has continued to improve for three straight quarters. While growth is slow, the improvement is welcome. Since the country exited a recession in Q2 2017, GDP growth figures have flickered on the back of oil price levels (and to a lesser extent, of oil production). The country’s economic growth dropped from 1.95% y/y in Q1 to 1.50% y/y in Q2, but rose to 1.81% y/y in Q3 and further to 2.38% y/y in Q4. This was the highest growth rate since the third quarter of 2015, as the non-oil sector expanded further and the oil sector contracted less. The oil sector GDP growth suffered from a high base effect having grown by 11.2% in Q4, 2017 compared to non-oil sector GDP growth of only 1.5% in that same quarter. Despite the delineation of oil and non-oil sectors, Nigeria’s economic growth is deeply reliant on its oil revenues which presently makes up over 80% of government revenues. These, of course, fall short of the projections in the ERGP which the government has asked that it be measured by, hence reiterating questions on the fundamentals of this plan that most Nigerians have repeatedly asked.
  • The setting up of Special Economic Zones is an approach that has opened up many countries to development. It is therefore laudable that the Buhari administration has signed agreements to this effect. However, as with everything, this is only a first step and the more important steps will be how the government will implement this in practice. Our only criticism of the zones is that with populations each in excess of 500,000, Aba, Funtua and Lekki may be too congested to for this strategy to be effective from the beginning. There is also the fine detail of an election coming up tomorrow and the uncertainty of a continued commitment to these SEZs if there is a change in government.