EDUCATED PRESIDENTS AND ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE

Educated Presidents are Better Leaders. This is the conclusion reached by Timothy Besley and his co researchers. But prevailing scenario in Nigeria may negate history.

Data on 1654 political leaders in 197 countries (including Nigeria) between year 1874 and 2004 was analysed by those renowned scholars.

They analysed leaders who exit office randomly (death of the leader) by studying a fixed period of time before they came into power and after they left power. They then measured the economic contribution of every leader and how it relates to their educational attainment.

In Nigeria history, three of our leaders so far exited power as a result of death (Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, General Sani Abacha and Alhaji Umaru Yar’adua). Sir Abubakar, was excluded from the analysis for 2 statistical reasons (His death was not random and the leadership fixed-effect was zero, because his regime was treated as base year for Nigeria).

This implies that, the data before, during and after General Abacha and the data before, during and after Alhaji Umaru would have fallen into the dataset if same analysis is to be conducted next 4 years, which will automatically consider Nigeria economic fortune or misfortune during President Jonathan.

The question here posed is: What will Nigeria economy look like, 4 years after the transition of Alhaji Umaru?

Despite the incumbent being the most educated of our leaders (so far), one thing been done differently from others is, scheming for longer stay in Asso Rock from beginning. (IBB waited till midway before becoming a “military president”.  Abacha stylishly worked till 1998 before all political parties adopted him as concensus candidate. OBJ feigned indifference until 2nd term was coming to an end)

General Abacha, was not consider among the highly educated in the research conducted by Professor Timothy Besley and his colleaques (Graduate = 0. College = 1). But looking at Nigeria’s economic figures, 4 years after General Abacha took over power:

Real GDP grew by 10% (N274B to N302B)

Inflation fell from 57% to 11%

External Reserve quadruple  (N67B to N262B)

External Debt fell by about 6% (N633B to N596B) even

Stock Market Capitalisation jumped from N47B to N282B (500% increase).

PTF constructed roads all over the country (not just Abuja) and supplied drugs to rural hospitals. On security front; the country recorded less religious crisis relatively.

Although some other figures were not positive, (such as budget deficit quadrupling) but “economic history and data” can not call such a regime a failure irrespective of the level of education of the then Head of State.

Prevailing situation and data on ground today are not supporting our a priori expectation that a highly educated president will lead to a greater economic growth and efforts expended on tenure elongation don’t give any signal that things will be different this time 2015.

Let Asso Rock get down to work and forget about tenure elongation (at least for now) and focus on providing stable electricity, generating employment, securing lives, among others, because economic history and data (1875 – 2004) expect better economic performance from an educated president.

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