Since independence, Nigeria’s GDP growth highest under two military juntas, Obasanjo presidency

Arising from the global economic crisis of the 1980s, Nigeria had its worst economic growth rate since its independence just before Muhammadu Buhari, at the time an army major general, overthrew late President Shehu Shagari in the coup d’état of December 31, 1983.

Mr Buhari, who was himself toppled after only 20 months in power, proceeded to oversee the highest growth rate ever in the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), analysis of data from the World Bank shows.

GDP growth rate was negative at -10.92 per cent when he seized power. But as of the time he was removed, it was 5.91 per cent. That was 16.83 percentage point increase.

Only under the regime of Murtala Muhammed, the army general assassinated in an abortive coup in his seventh month in office on February 13, 1976, has Nigeria ever approached that magnitude of growth.

Mr Muhammed’s predecessor, Yakubu Gowon, the nation’s longest-serving military leader (August 1, 1966 – July 29, 1975), left office after a period of oil glut with economic growth at -5.23 per cent. By the time Mr Muhammed was assassinated, growth was 9.04 per cent, a 14.27 percentage point increase.

Mr Muhammed’s deputy and successor, Olusegun Obasanjo, could not maintain that level of growth as the rate slowed to 6.59 per cent when he left office in 1979. He would later atone for that when he returned as a democratically elected president in 1999, almost 20 years later.

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