Nigeria: Political Risk Brewing – Zedcrest


Wednesday, April 25, 2018  2:00PM / Zedcrest Capital 

The Fixed Income market has been on a rally of late, hinged on renewed interests from both local and offshore clients, due to investors’ expectation of further moderation in inflation rates and a tilt to a more accommodative monetary stance by the CBN, with the recent reduction in its spate of OMO issuances.

Foreign investors have also been attracted by the broader stability in the country’s macro-economic environment, largely hinged on positive developments in oil prices and relative stability in its FX Market.

We however note that there exist some downside risk factors in the broader political and economic space which could spook the wheels of the recent momentum in the markets. The key risk being a possibility of capital reversals by FPI’s in reaction to political risk factors ahead of the 2019 General elections.

Major Risk Factors

1. Delay in Budget Passage
The delay in the passage of the 2018 budget is being felt negatively as the budget is required by public and private sector stakeholders to plan and manage their economic activities. The 2018 budget which was put at N8.612 trillion and presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari on Nov. 7, 2017, was tagged “Budget of Consolidation’’, but the absence of a budget calendar and  lack of coordination amongst the executive and legislature have been the major causes of the delay. While we expect the issues around the budget delay to be resolved soon, a continued delay would however send signals of instability and uncertainty to prospective local and offshore investors. 

2. Regional Conflicts
The Nigerian socio-political climate has been beset by several conflicts in recent times. Notable amongst these include the recent Shiite protests in which large number of supporters of the Shite Leader El-Zakzaky stormed the state capital to protest the continued detention of their Leader. We have also witnessed recent attacks by the Boko-haram sect in the north-eastern region which has caused some angst amongst members of the International community. Most Notable amongst these conflicts however remains the continued killings by rampaging herdsmen across most of the North central and some southern states of the country. We fear that if these conflicts are not properly handled by the Government, they may result in heightened levels of insecurity and an escalation of tensions ahead of the upcoming General elections. 

a.) Shiite Protests
There has been escalating tensions in recent times from Members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) in protest of the continued detention of their leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, whom the Nigerian government has kept in custody for over two years, without trial and despite court orders for his release. The protests, which started peacefully on Monday and Tuesday last week turned violent after police forcefully dispersed the protesters. We fear that if this situation is not carefully handled, it might degenerate into a more serious security concern. 

b.) Boko-haram Insurgency
Despite claims by the Federal Government of a complete subjugation of the Boko-haram Militant Sect, we have witnessed recent spate of attacks from the terrorist group, which has once again renewed fears of a debilitating security situation in the North-eastern part of the country.  

c.) Herdsmen Killings
The Seemingly intractable killings by Fulani herdsmen across most of the Middle belt and southern states, has been one of the most controversial issues facing the current administration, which has drawn a lot of criticisms from both local and foreign governments, politicians and human rights activists. Of utmost concern however is the Federal Government’s seeming inability to find a lasting solution to the menace. We fear that a lack of decisive action by the FGN may result in increased tensions as members of the affected communities may be forced to defend themselves from any future attacks. 

3. Inflationary Threats
Most experts have said that the inflation target of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) would not be feasible, due to the downside risks occasioned by electioneering spending and implementation of minimum wage. Inflationary pressures are likely to resume in the third quarter of the year on the back of waning base effect, increased electioneering spending and the implementation of minimum wage by government.

We believe the aforementioned risk factors should be critically monitored by investors, as they may portend for significant reversals in offshore capital flows and an uptrend in fixed income yields if they worsen or do crystallize. We consequently advise investors to exercise caution in their investments ahead of the 2019 General elections, whilst advising a tilt to the shorter end of the Naira yield curve for risk averse investors. 

Proshare Nigeria Pvt. Ltd.

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