Nigeria asks air passengers for patience as no quick fix for jet fuel shortages – Reuters

By Felix Onuah and Alexis Akwagyiram

ABUJA Dec 21 (Reuters) – Nigeria is trying to import more jet fuel but air travelers tired of delays must be patient as a shortage of foreign currency will continue to hurt the airline industry, the minister of aviation said.

 

“The flight has been delayed due to a scarcity of aviation fuel,” has become a standard announcement at Nigerian airports, where passengers spend much of the day waiting as the recession-hit West African nation struggles to buy jet fuel in from abroad.

Most domestic flights have been delayed for hours or cancelled in the past two weeks, with airlines unable to get jet fuel and, due to the subsequent loss of business, struggling to pay staff. Unions grounded the biggest local carrier, Arik Air, for one day on Tuesday over unpaid salaries.

Hadi Sirika, the minister of state for aviation, said that the central bank was releasing more hard currency but that fuel importers were competing with health, education, transport, social services and security agencies which also need dollars.

“I was in the central bank three times since I became minister, soliciting for foreign exchange, and they have started to give airlines foreign exchange,” he told Reuters late on Tuesday. “The major challenge is that we have a foreign exchange issue.”

Nigeria’s foreign exchange reserves have dwindled as low oil prices have reduced a crucial source of dollars, pushing the country into recession. Oil accounts for 90 percent of Nigeria’s foreign exchange.

“While this recession will last and while this problem of forex availability will last, we’ll have to appeal to Nigerians and other people that pass through our airports to exercise patience and be aware of the situation,” the minister said.

Sirika said that Nigeria’s derelict refineries in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna would soon resume jet fuel production as the state oil firm was overhauling them.

“They have the capacity to refine A1 (fuel) but they have long stopped doing that. The petroleum resources ministry and NNPC have assured us that they will resume production of Jet A1 – that is for the long term,” he said.

The central bank on Monday launched a special foreign exchange auction to provide dollars to airlines and fuel marketers.

State oil firm NNPC said on Monday it would be releasing 26 days of aviation fuel to “forestall shortage”.

But a Lagos-based fuel trader said jet fuel shortages would probably continue until January due to demand for tickets during the festive season. The government’s priority is to give hard currency to gasoline importers to avoid queues at petrol stations, he said. (additional reporting by Ulf Laessing and Libby George Writing by Paul Carsten; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

 

Record Capital Outflows Push Euro Toward Parity With Dollar – WSJ


 

Higher interest rates in the U.S. are drawing money out of the eurozone

 
By MIKE BIRD
 
More money has left eurozone financial markets this year than at any time in the bloc’s history, helping drive the euro toward parity with the dollar for the first time in 14 years.

The eurozone had its largest-ever net outflows in the 12 months to September, data from the European Central Bank showed Tuesday.

Eurozone investors bought €497.5 billion ($516.5 billion) of financial assets, such as stocks and bonds, outside the bloc in that period. Global investors, meanwhile, sold or let mature €31.3 billion of eurozone assets during the year. Together, that adds up to a net outflow of €528.8 billion, the most since the single currency was introduced in 1999.

 

Late Tuesday in New York, the euro was at $1.0388, its lowest level since January 2003, compared with $1.0403 late Monday.

Many analysts now believe that the common currency will hit parity with the dollar next year.

The euro has been sliding against the dollar since Donald Trump’s election victory spurred predictions of higher U.S. interest rates.

Last week the Federal Reserve increased rates for the first time this year and hinted at a speedier path of future increases at a time when the ECB’s benchmark interest rate is still negative. That has sent yields on U.S. debt soaring against those in Europe, making U.S. returns more tempting.

Given the poor returns in Europe, investors have been moving their money out of the region, selling euros as they do and so pressuring the currency lower.

European funds, meanwhile, want to buy stocks, bonds and other securities outside of Europe, driving up demand for other currencies, particularly the dollar.

“The dollar is very much on a tear, and the euro is one of the cleanest reflections of that,” said Ned Rumpeltin, European head of foreign-exchange strategy at TD Securities. “There’s a combination of policy divergence between the Fed and the ECB, and the two economies being on two different courses.”

ENLARGE
 

Mr. Rumpeltin said he expects the euro to fall to—and even below—parity in the early months of next year.

He isn’t alone.

Analysts at Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. believe parity will happen by the end of 2017. Deutsche Bank AG predicts the euro will fall to at least $0.95 next year, driven by what it calls the “euroglut” of large capital outflows from the region.

Earlier this month, before the Fed’s meeting, analysts had predicted the euro would reach $1.057 by the end of 2017, near its current level, according to Consensus Economics, which aggregates the forecasts of hundreds of researchers.

But the dollar has jumped 2.5% against the euro since the Fed signaled it expects to raise rates three times next year, as opposed to the two times it predicted in October.

Higher rates tend to boost a currency as foreign money moves in to benefit from the higher returns. In the eurozone, a bond-buying program is also damping returns by pushing down yields in debt markets.

 
The dollar has strengthened 2.5% against the euro since last week’s Fed meeting.

The difference between bond yields in the U.S. and Germany is at its largest in more than a quarter of a century. U.S. 10-year government debt yields 2.566%, against a 0.27% yield for comparable German bonds. The gap is so large that the dollar will likely continue rallying even if the rate differential stops widening, said George Saravelos, a strategist at Deutsche Bank, in a research note Friday.

The large gap between European and U.S. returns will continue to drive the euro down, according to some analysts.

“The last time this happened for more than a few months was in 1979 and 1997; the dollar rallied by 30% and 20%, respectively,” said Mr. Saravelos.

A strengthening dollar rally can have significant effects around the world, raising inflation for other countries and crimping U.S. exports. Emerging markets, where corporations and governments often borrow in dollars, are generally hit hardest.

For the eurozone, a weaker currency will likely be welcomed as it makes exports more competitive and comes at a time when inflation is not a worry.

Still, analysts have incorrectly predicted euro-dollar parity before. The forecast was particularly popular in early 2015, but the single currency didn’t go below $1.045.

And not all analysts are betting on parity this time around. The ECB extended its bond-buying program this month but also cut its monthly purchases. Any signs that it will curtail the program could strengthen the euro.

Antje Praefcke, a foreign-exchange analyst at Commerzbank AG, believes that the ECB will start running out of bonds to buy toward the end of next year, raising questions of whether it will begin reining in the program.

“That will offer some support to the euro against the dollar,” she said.

Write to Mike Bird at Mike.Bird@wsj.com

 

‘CBN Seeking End to Spread Between Interbank, Parallel FX Rates’ – Thisday

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) will try to eliminate the spread between the official and black market exchange rate against the dollar, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun said on Tuesday.

The naira is trading on the parallel market some 40 per cent lower than the official rate as low global crude prices have dried up vital oil revenues and pushed Africa’s largest economy into recession.

The central bank scrapped a 16-month-old peg of N197 to the dollar in June, but it continues to trade in the official market, so that the naira remains far stronger against the dollar there than on the parallel market. The government has blamed that black market for damaging the already shaky economy.

“The CBN is working on the elimination of arbitrage,” Adeosun told Reuters by text message, without saying how this would be done.

She earlier told a conference that the central bank was working on removing the price difference. Adeosun said this had been in response to a question about manufacturers not getting incentives to produce given an arbitrage opportunity.

A CBN spokesman, Isaac Okorafor, said the central bank was working towards “ensuring that the forex market operates as effectively as we would envisage.”

He said the aim was to “ensure there is no black market” but did not give details of how this would be achieved.

The naira has traded around N305.5 naira to the dollar on the official interbank market since August, while it was quoted at N490 to the dollar on the parallel market on Tuesday.

More dollars for farmers as Nigerian grains gain global traction – Businessday

The fall in the value of naira against the US dollar is making local prices of grains attractive to foreign traders and has increased  demand for major grain crops in recent months.

The increased on Nigeria major grain crops such as millet, rice, and sorghum is making farmers smile home with the elusive foreign exchange, stakeholders say.

“Our grains are gaining a lot of traction now as a lot of foreigners are coming from neighbouring countries to buy from us. Local manufacturing firms are also sourcing locally,”said Abiodun Olorundenro, chief executive officer, Green Vine Farms.

“Farmers are making a lot of money as most of us now sell our produce directly on our farms without having to transport them,” Olorundenro said.

The foreign exchange crunch is forcing manufacturing companies to buy more of local grains to ramp up production.

Recently, Audu Ogbeh, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, had said in a YouTube message monitored by BusinessDay that Nigeria has huge harvest of rice and massive harvest of millet but is under pressure from neighbouring states.

“We find now that people are coming from as Algeria, Chad to load food from our markets. An average of 500 trucks is loaded per day. It is taking away the stock which we need to survive for next year. We have to start buying up grains to store because if the rains finishes in January, February to March before the next planting season you may find Nigeria very hungry,” Ogbeh said.

Farmers and experts faulted this line of thought, saying that what is needed is to put measures in place that will ramp up production.

“We should be talking about doing all-year-round farming and not depending on rain-fed farming. We have the arable land and population to make this happen. It takes three months to grow and harvest grains, so all-year-round farming is possible,” Muda Yusuf, director general, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), said.

“The more opportunities we have for export the better for us as a country because of the dollar proceeds,” Yusuf said, adding that output can only increase when farmers have incentives and use mechanisation and modern farming techniques.

Nigerian major grains are rice, wheat, maize and sorghum with a production of 15.56 million metric tons and demand of 25.5 million metric tons per annum, according to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture. This shows a demand-supply gap of 9.9 million metric tons per annum.

A ton of maize sells for N130,000 on November 15 as against N57,000 sold in December 2015.  In January 2016, a ton of wheat was sold for N100,000, but this rose to  N140,000 in August 2016. The price is about N160,000 at the moment.

According to the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), local input in the food and beverage sector has edged up to 73.36 percent since December 2015 as against 69.75 percent in December 2014.

Some farmers confirmed to BusinessDay that they repatriate their foreign exchange proceeds through the country’s land borders to circumvent the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) rule that exporters can only withdraw their foreign exchange at the official rate of about N305 to the US$. This way, they exchange their proceeds at the blackmarket rate which is currently hovering around N470 to the US$.

Josephine Okojie

We won’t privatise refineries, says Kachikwu – Punch

By Okechukwu Nnodim, Abuja

The country’s three refineries in Warri, Port Harcourt and Kaduna are not up for concession or privatisation, as there is no plan to do so, the Federal Government has said.

Rather, the government says that it favours private sector investment and subsequent joint ownership and management of the plants for greater efficiency, adding that it would not spend its money on the refineries anymore.

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, said this when he received members of the House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum (Upstream), who were on an oversight visit to the ministry on Tuesday.

The minister said this while responding to a question by one of the members as to what exactly was the thinking of the Federal Government on the refineries.

Kachikwu said the government was working hard to bring in private investment capital to strengthen the plants in order to boost the nation’s local refining capacity.

According to a statement issued by the Director of Press, Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Mr. Idang Alibi, the minister also explained that for the purpose of efficient management of the refineries, the Federal Government would hands-off the plants financially.

“Government’s money will not be committed to the refineries anymore,” Kachikwu said.

According to him, prospective private investors will bring in their money, take part in managing the refineries and from there, they will recoup their investments.

The Chairman of the committee, Victor Nwokolo, said the members were at the ministry to get first hand briefing on its activities, achievements, opportunities and challenges so as to enable the lawmakers know what support they could give.

He suggested that oil companies that failed to pay their signature bonuses to the Federal Government should have their oil block allocations revoked, while those who obtained their licences through the back door should face a similar fate.

Nigerians living abroad remit $35bn in 11 months – Punch

By Ifeanyi Onuba, Abuja

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora Matters, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, on Tuesday said between January and now, over $35bn had been remitted to the country by Nigerians living abroad.

Dabiri-Erewa disclosed this when she visited the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Mr. Babatunde Fowler, and the management team of the FIRS in Abuja.

She said the amount so far remitted to the country by Nigerians living abroad this year exceeded the $21bn sent home by them last year.

The $35bn remittance, according to her, is the highest so far recorded in Africa this year and the third highest in the world.

“In 2016, they (Nigerians living abroad) remitted $35bn, which is higher than what was remitted in 2015. This is the highest in Africa and the third largest in the world,” she stated.

Dabiri-Erewa drew the attention of the FIRS management to tax concerns raised by Nigerians living abroad, adding that this might frustrate the objective of the government in encouraging them to invest back home.

She said, “There is a lot of talk about your organisation from Nigerians in the Diaspora concerning taxes; whether there will be tax incentives for Nigerians coming back home to engage in agriculture and other businesses.

“Recently, they expressed concern over reports that we need to pay tax on our passports. There should be collaboration between both offices to disseminate information in case they have questions or want answers.”

Responding, Fowler said the agency had not imposed any fresh tax on the collection of passports, adding that what was required from any adult applying for passport was evidence of tax compliance.

He said, “What we are saying is if you want any immigration services, either you want to renew your passport or get a new one, so long as you’re an adult and you’re making an income, you just have to show evidence of tax payment.

“There is no direct tax on passports, it’s just to show evidence of paying tax; and of course, you’re entitled to all the services of government.”

The FIRS boss explained that there were a lot of tax incentives for Nigerians abroad to take advantage of when investing in the country.

Passengers stranded at airports as workers ground Arik – Punch

BY Okechukwu Nnodim and Maureen Ihua-Maduenyi

Scores of passengers of Nigeria’s largest commercial carrier, Arik Air, were stopped from flying on Tuesday as a result of protests by aviation unions against the management of the airline.

At the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, hundreds of travellers could not embark on their trips as the carrier’s operations were disrupted by the unionists, who were protesting the non-payment of seven months’ outstanding salaries to employees of Arik, among other issues.

Senior officials at the Abuja airport told one of our correspondents that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority had to summon the airline to a meeting in a bid to resolve the issues.

The officials also revealed that the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria had to increase security at airports across the country, particularly as Nigerians had begun travelling in large numbers to celebrate the Christmas and New Year in different parts of the nation.

The National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers, National Union of Air Transport Employees and Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria had on Monday directed workers of Arik Air to commence an indefinite strike action from Tuesday over the non-payment of seven months’ salaries in addition to other issues.

It was observed that activities at the airline’s ticketing and reservation counters at the NAIA were disrupted and passengers could not carry out transactions at the carrier’s stands.

As a result of the strike action, most of the other domestic airlines capitalised on the development on Tuesday by increasing their fares.

Our correspondents found that First Nation’s ticket from Lagos to Abuja, which sold for N34,800 on Monday, had been increased to N40,000 barely 24 hours after. It was the same for the airline’s Lagos to Port Harcourt fare; while Air Peace, which shares the same terminal with Arik Air, raised fares on all its routes from N19,117 and N21,803 to N34,548, except for late evening flights.

Some passengers, who patronised agents around the Lagos airport, paid as much as N45,000 for First Nation’s flights to Lagos-Abuja and Lagos-Port Harcourt.

A ticketing officer, who spoke with one of our correspondents, said all the domestic airlines had also suspended promo fares for both the economy and business classes.

“It has become a standard practice; once an airline is down, others automatically remove lesser fares from their systems,” he said.

A stranded passenger said that despite the rise in the other airlines’ fares, he was unable to get a ticket.

Another passenger who was on his way to Port Harcourt; said he did not hear about the strike until he got to the airport.

“I’m already discouraged by the queue at the ticket and check-in counters of other airlines; I will just go home and think of what next to do,” he said.

The spokesperson for Arik Air, Mr. Adebanji Ola, urged the government and its agencies in the sector to intervene, stressing that it was illegal for the unions to shut down the carrier’s operations nationwide.

In a statement on the development, the airline said, “Arik Air is appealing to all the security agencies, the Minister of Aviation, the NCAA, FAAN, Nigeria Airspace Management Agency and all the other stakeholders in the industry to prevail on these aviation unions to allow for operations to commence immediately since this unjustifiable disruption by the unions has already inconvenienced the travel plans of thousands of passengers today (Tuesday).”

At its Lagos office, the carrier said officials of the unions ambushed and disrupted its operations from the early hours of Tuesday by occupying its head office premises and preventing members of staff from gaining access to their workplace.

It said the representatives of the protesting unions also prevented employees of the airline from gaining access to the General Aviation Terminal and the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, disabling the checking-in of passengers for both domestic and international flights.

It added that the union leadership had earlier written a letter to the management of Arik Air on their grievances and a meeting had been scheduled for Wednesday, December 21, 2016 (today).

The statement added, “The unions, however, did not wait for the scheduled meeting or the outcome of the meeting before embarking on such disruptive and strong-arm tactics against the airline.

“The unions have demonstrated total disregard for the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by interfering in the operations of the airline and preventing airline staff from carrying on with their duties of handling the passengers booked for today’s flights.”

The Acting General Manager, Corporate Affairs, FAAN, Mrs. Henrietta Yakubu, confirmed that the situation was being handled appropriately as the airline had a meeting with the NCAA on Tuesday on the matter.

In another development, Yakubu stated that the management of FAAN had alerted security agencies at airports to be on red alert as thousands of passengers would use the airports this season.

She said, “Apart from the statutory security and safety measures already in place at the airports, management has also charged all airport managers to employ measures to ensure that only those that meet requirements have access to all restricted areas at the landside, terminals and airside.

“Furthermore, the Bomb Detection Unit of the Nigerian Police Force has also been charged to be more alert at the airports to complement the effort of Aviation Security personnel at the security screening points.”

What banks don’t want you to know about debt – Punch

We all need to borrow money sometimes. Banks can be more than happy to lend you the money, but when it comes to repaying them here are few things they may not have told you, according to https://www.harmoney.co.nz:

The credit card hangover: Credit cards are fun when you are spending, not so great when you are stuck with their interest rates. If you cannot pay off your credit card all in one go, there are ways around the bank’s high interest rates.

Not all interest is created equal: If you have bought what you have always wanted, the interest you are paying on that loan might be way more than at other places. So, there is no harm in shopping around and taking advantage of companies that will tailor a rate to suit your needs.

You don’t owe them anything: You may owe them money, but you don’t owe them your loyalty. If their interest rate is too high, or they get a bit judgemental, you can take your loan elsewhere.

Banks are not the only option: In the past, you either had the big banks or worse, the loan sharks. Thanks to the wonder of the Internet, things have changed for the better. Now, you can borrow from each other, without needing the banks. It is called a peer-to-peer money marketplace.

Consolidate all your debts: If you have got credit card bills and loan repayments sending you up the wall, why not put them all together. Consolidate your debts now.

Managing your debt burden

If you are in debt, you are not alone because living in denial will only increase your money woes as well as your anxiety. As soon as you face up to the situation, paying off your debts may be simpler than you realise, www.independent.co.uk.

Face the facts: Your first step is to discover the extent of your financial problems. Begin by collating your latest bank statements, tracking down any misplaced pieces of paperwork and opening those bills you have been ignoring. Next, make a list of how much you owe and the rates of interest. Once you have this information, you can prioritise your debts.

Draw up a budget: Next, work out how much you can afford to spend on debt repayment each month. You can then put this amount towards your debt repayment every month.

Once you know exactly how much you can afford to allocate to paying off your debts, you will be able to devise a repayment plan to suit you.

This is also a good opportunity to assess your spending habits and see if you can cut back on luxuries you can really do without. Simple steps such as taking a packed lunch to work and giving up your morning latte can make a significant difference to your bank balance.

If you owe money on expensive credit cards, find out if you can transfer your debt onto a zero per cent balance transfer credit card. These clever cards eliminate interest charges for an introductory period, ensuring that every penny you repay goes towards beating down your balance. However, to make the most of this type of deal, you must ensure you repay your debt within the offer period.

Alternatively, if you need longer to repay your debt, you may be better off opting for a long term, low rate credit card. Although you will still pay some interest each month, it will probably be at a much lower rate.

Explore overdraft options: Paying too much interest on your overdraft can easily exacerbate your debt problems.

Naira trades stable as FG seeks end to exchange rate spread – Businessday

BY HOPE MOSES
Federal Government can succeed in eliminating the black market or the exchange rate spread if it improves on foreign exchange supply or allows price mechanism to play its role, according to Johnson Chukwu, managing director/CEO, Asset Management Limited.
 
“If they are able to meet demand and allow price to adjust to demand and supply equilibrium, they can eliminate black market,” he told BusinessDay on phone.
 
Naira on Tuesday traded stable at all segment of the foreign exchange market as the Federal Government looked for ways to end the spread between the interbank and parallel market rates. 
 
After trading yesterday, the local currency closed at N490 against the dollar, the same as Monday. It also remained stable, closing at N305.25k at the interbank spot market yesterday.
 
The naira is trading on the parallel market some 40 percent lower than the official rate, as low global crude prices have dried up vital oil revenues and pushed Africa’s largest economy into recession.
 
A call made at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) yesterday could not go through. The CBN scrapped a 16-month-old peg of N197 to the dollar in June, but it continues to trade in the official market, so that the naira remains far stronger against the dollar than on the parallel market. The government has blamed that black market for damaging the already shaky economy.
 
The CBN is working on the elimination of arbitrage,” Kemi Adeosun, finance minister, told Reuters by text message, without saying how this would be done.
 
She earlier told a conference that the CBN was working on removing the price difference. Adeosun said this had been in response to a question about manufacturers not getting incentives to produce given an arbitrage opportunity.
 
Reuters reported that CBN spokesman, Isaac Okorafor, said the central bank was working towards “ensuring that the forex market operates as effectively as we would envisage.”

    Buhari Faces Spreading Opposition as Nigeria’s Economy Slumps – Bloomberg

    • Coalition that brought Buhari to power threatens to unravel
    • Buhari may face street protests if no improvement: Teneo

    Yusuf Rabiu went door-to-door urging people in the northern Nigerian city of Kano to vote for President Muhammadu Buhari in last year’s elections. Now he’s regretting his decision.

    “We expected him to solve our economic problems,” Rabiu, a 36-year-old hat seller, said at the city’s Kurmi market as a group of friends nodded in agreement. “I didn’t know voting for him would mean more hunger, more suffering.”

    After ending the 16-year reign of the People’s Democratic Party last year in what won praise as a peaceful transition of power in Africa, Buhari is facing a firestorm of criticism. Even some of his ruling party members have met with their erstwhile opponents about forming a new party to challenge him if he seeks re-election in 2019, according to two people familiar with the meetings.

    For Buhari, who ruled as a military dictator in the 1980s, 2016 has been a tough year. He pledged the naira currency would become as strong as the dollar — it hit record lows after the central bank removed its peg in May and currently trades at 315 to the greenback. Gasoline prices that were to be slashed by two-thirds have risen about 67 percent since he took office. Now Africa’s second-biggest economy is heading toward its first full-year contraction in a quarter-century, while inflation is at an 11-year high.

    Broken Promises

    “He made a lot of promises that people bought into, and some of these he has denied or failed to keep,” Clement Nwankwo, executive director of the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre in the capital, Abuja, said in an interview. “The fundamentals were bad when he took over but not as bad as they’re today.”

    Even Buhari’s wife, Aisha, has lost patience. She told the British Broadcasting Corp. on Oct. 14 that she wasn’t sure if she would campaign for his re-election, saying a small clique of people controlled his government and appointed most of his cabinet.

    Upon taking office, Buhari was dealt a very poor hand: a collapse in prices for crude, the West African nation’s main export, and production cuts caused by militant attacks in the oil-rich Niger River delta. In the far northeast, the Islamist militant group Boko Haram terrorized the population with kidnappings and suicide bombings.

    His six-month delay in naming a cabinet created uncertainty about his administration’s fiscal and monetary policies. Then, as the naira tumbled on the parallel market, Buhari slapped an import ban on 41 items, damaging manufacturing and trade.

    “They met a bad situation and they made it eminently worse,” Junaid Mohammed, a former lawmaker from Kano who’d been critical of Buhari’s predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, said in an interview.

    Keep Faith

    Sensing the dwindling support, Buhari urged Nigerians on Dec. 12 “not to lose faith in the ability of this administration to make a difference in the lives of our people.” Two days later, while presenting 2017 budget proposals to lawmakers, Buhari pledged to act to “pull the economy out of recession as quickly as possible.”

    On Sunday, Buhari ordered the attorney-general to investigate allegations of corruption by some of his top aides, presidential spokesman Garba Shehu said, without naming them.

    Buhari’s decision to choose loyalists from his mainly Muslim northern region for important security and cabinet positions has stoked resentment in the mainly Christian southeast, fueling secessionist demands, and complaints in the southwest ethnic Yoruba heartland that was key to his presidential victory. Out of 17 top positions in the army, navy, air force and other security agencies, three are from the south.

    Mounting Disquiet

    Mounting disquiet in the coalition that propelled him to office erupted in October when Bola Tinubu, who helped mobilize support for the president’s campaign in the southwest, published a statement attacking the APC’s chairman John Oyegun, a Buhari ally. Tinubu was supported by ex-Vice President Abubakar Atiku, who also backed Buhari in the election.

    Time is becoming Buhari’s biggest enemy, according to Manji Cheto, senior vice president for West Africa at New York-based Teneo Intelligence.

    “Effectively, he’s only got next year to turn things around before the election cycle starts,” she said by phone. “Next year will be a breaking point for a lot of Nigerians, particularly if we get a spike in gasoline prices and food inflation keeps rising. In that case, I don’t see how they’d be able to keep people off the streets.”