We asked nine top economist which presidential candidate will be market friendly

As Nigerian voters prepare to head to the polls on February 25, many are hoping for a more market-friendly president to replace the current government, which has been perceived as having unfriendly policies towards markets and trade.

According to a survey conducted by Nairametrics, economists and market stakeholders have identified Peter Obi, Atiku Abubakar, Bola Tinubu, and Rabiu Kwankwaso as the top contenders in the upcoming presidential election, and have expressed their opinions on which candidate would be most market-friendly.

Our survey also indicates all the top contenders have good economic policies that favor markets but one person rises above others.

According to Moses Igbrude, President of the Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria, Peter Obi the former chairman of the board of directors of Fidelity Bank and a stakeholder in International Breweries, has pledged to improve forex capacity by ending import restrictions and enabling exporters to sell their dollars at the market rate if elected.

  • “Peter Obi has cognate knowledge of the workings of the exchange, and would be in the best position to formulate market-friendly policies for the exchange,” said Moses Igbrude

Atiku Abubakar, who has investments in many companies in Nigeria but none listed on the stock market, has said that he would break the government monopoly in all sectors of the economy and allow the market greater leverage in determining prices.

However, Igbrude is not convinced that Abubakar’s policies would also be market-friendly.

  • “Atiku Abubakar is a capitalist, which is good for the economy, but he may use his capitalist inclination to his own advantage, instead of the country’s,” he said.

Rabiu Kwankwaso has promised to initiate good economic policies and tackle insecurity, but Igbrude believes that he does not have sufficient knowledge of the workings of the exchange to formulate market-friendly policies.

Bola Tinubu has promised to optimize foreign exchange (FX) to strengthen the naira, which some economists believe would be market-friendly.

  • “I think Bola Tinubu would formulate more market-friendly policies. He is a creative economist, and capital markets usually do well under creative economists,” said Zakari Mohammed, a lecturer at the Department of Banking and Finance at Auchi Polytechnic.

However, Mohammed expressed concern that Tinubu’s age might not work in his favor.

Another economist who preferred that we do not disclose his identity also expressed doubt that any of the four contenders would be completely market-friendly.

  • “Peter Obi, Bola Tinubu, and Rabiu Kwankwaso have good manifestos but still have some leanings toward reviving government assets, which is not a market-friendly approach,” the economist said.
  • “A private sector-led economy would be good for the market,” the economist added, suggesting that Atiku Abubakar might be the most likely to formulate and enforce market-friendly policies.

Dr. Emeka Okengwu, Chief Executive of Anthill Concepts Limited, believes that Peter Obi would be the most market-friendly if elected, given his emphasis on moving away from consumption to production.

  • “Consumption is not limited to physical goods, but also includes services. Services include financial services; therefore, I believe the emphasis being laid by Peter Obi on production means it will have a positive impact on the markets,” he said.

Okengwu believes that Atiku Abubakar could also have market-friendly policies, but may have shortcomings in terms of regulations.

Dr. Paul Enonogie, an economist, believes that Peter Obi has an edge over the other contenders, given his academic background and association with the markets in the past.

  • “He [Peter Obi] therefore knows what the market needs to grow,” Enonogie noted that the other three contenders have no records of activities in the markets and therefore may not consciously formulate market-friendly policies.

Anietie Dugu, a stock market analyst, expressed her confidence in Peter Obi, stating,

  • “By the mere fact that Obi served as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission gives him an edge over the other contenders.”

However, when asked about the other contenders, Dugu admitted she was not familiar with their economic policies while they were in government.

Dr. Nelson Nkwo, a lecturer in the Insurance Department at Ebonyi State University, told Nairametrics,

  • “Apart from Obi, none of the other contenders has shown any interest in the stock market. The other contenders have investments, but not in the stock market, which might be an indication that they don’t quite appreciate the importance of the market to the economy. Obi does, judging from his antecedents.”

Livinus Azosiwe, another economist and social affairs analyst, stated,

  • “I believe Obi’s policies will be market-friendly. He [Peter Obi] has to create jobs, which the young people desperately need. To create jobs for young people, there will be a need for mass investments; that is where the stock market comes in. If Obi is elected, he will need to create the right environment to woo investors. The market is crucial; so he will have to formulate market-friendly policies.”

Azosiwe also noted that he perceives Bola Tinubu and Rabiu Kwankwaso to have socialist leanings, which is not market-friendly.

Kayode Gbadebo, a player in the capital market, believes all four candidates know what to do to ensure market-friendly policies, but selfish interests have impeded the growth of the market. He said he hopes for a paradigm shift from what has been obtained over the past eight years.

According to the mini-survey conducted by Nairametrics, 67% of respondents believe Peter Obi will be market-friendly, with Atiku Abubakar and Bola Tinubu clinching 11% apiece of stakeholders’ confidence to be market-friendly, while 11% remained neutral.

Regardless of the opinions, it remains to be seen which of the top contenders for Nigeria’s presidency will emerge victorious and deliver on their promise to implement policies that are more market-friendly than the current government’s policies.

As the country’s general elections draw closer, it is crucial for voters and stakeholders to consider the implications of each candidate’s economic policies and how they may impact the Nigerian market.



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