Nigeria’s elections on March 28, six weeks later than originally planned, will pit president Goodluck Jonathan of the governing People’s Democratic Party against general Muhammadu Buhari and his All Progressives Congress. This marks the second time the two have run against each other for the presidency.
“Confidence in the incumbent is greatly reduced and investors are likely to show concern about business continuity, due to policy change, in the event that there is a change of government,” said Dr Ibilola Amao, principal consultant at Nigerian advisory firm Lonadek.
Funso Ojo, managing director at Templeton Business Consulting, said that the fall in crude oil prices has put pressure on the naira and many believe that further devaluation of the currency is inevitable and is only being delayed because it could harm Mr Jonathan’s chances of winning the election.
Greenfield investment monitor fDi Markets shows that Nigeria’s top sector is coal, oil and natural gas, accounting for 13% of projects recorded between January 2003 and December 2014.
“At $50 a barrel both candidates need to be investor-friendly in their approach to the economy,” added Ms Amao.
“The petroleum industry has suffered significantly in the last six years as the president has not mustered and exercised the political will needed to push through the reforms required to move the sector forward,” said Oluseyi Bickersteth, national senior partner at KPMG Nigeria. But he added that the president is generally pro-business, citing the improved fortunes of the manufacturing sector and agri-business as an example.
Funso Ojo added that Mr Jonathan could be judged by his recent track record in office, while less is known about Mr Buhari when it comes to business friendliness.
Mr Bickersteth predicted that Mr Buhari would be pro-business as well, noting that he has reached out to the business community during his campaigns. Ms Amao added that Mr Buhari has stated that his priority would be to reduce corruption and maximise the use of Nigeria’s resources for the benefit of Nigeria and its people.
Femi Edun, lecturer at the department of economics at Lagos State University, said that both candidates have been strategising how to create jobs and reduce unemployment. “With the promise of job creation, they will make the business environment attractive for more FDI, knowing that there is a large market in Nigeria with good returns and this will attract investors into the country.”