Nigeria Can Produce A Better, More Robust Economic Team

Nigeria Can Produce A Better, More Robust  Economic Team
March 01 17:27 2016 Print This Article

At last, the President Muhammadu Buhari’s government unveiled its
Economic Management Team (EMT) last week. But this was not without
some drama as many Nigerians expressed shock at the complete exclusion
of the private sector, at a time that governments all over the world
are pushing the management of the economy into the hands of the
private sector.

Mr. Laolu Akande, senior special assistant to the vice president on
media (SSA) listed the team’s key members to include the Minister of
Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma; the Minister of
Finance, Kemi Adeosun; the Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment,
Okechukwu Enelamah; the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN),
Godwin Emefiele; and  Abraham Nwankwo, the Director-General of the
Debt Management Office (DMO). He said the composition of the team was
not static as Agriculture Minister Audu Ogbe and Information Minister
Lai Mohammed as well as relevant permanent secretaries have also been

Prior to unmasking members of the team, Yemi Osinbajo, the country’s VP
was saddled with steering the ship of the economic team of the nation
as the chair of the National Economic Council. Even then it could not
then be seen as the economic management team of this administration,
since NEC consists also of governors many of whom are from the
opposition parties.

It is instructive that the Vice President was in charge of supervising
and directing the preparation of the now discredited controversial and
padded 2016 budget which has been described by many as a huge fraud.

Apart from the discrepancies and the monumental fraud contained in the
national document, it was gathered that a United Kingdon (UK) donor
agency hired some incompetent individuals to help in the budget
preparation when Nigeria is replete with top economists and financial
experts who could have successfully guided the budget preparation

The directive by President Buhari sacking the director general of the
Budget Office Mr. Yahaya Gusau, is an indictment on the incompetence
of the economic team as it is at the moment.

If what the government can put together as an economic team is
incapable of preparing a fiscal document in place for the smooth
running of the economy, then what hope do we have as a nation with the
calibre of people saddled with the responsibility of managing the
economy in the next couple of years?

Truth be told, in Nigeria we have eminently qualified men and women
who have the wherewithal to call the shot in matters of economy and
fiscal management. As things stand now, what we have, as announced by
Mr. Akande as an economic team, is at best a cabal with micro
interests in economic issues who are incapable of serving the economic
needs of our nation, Nigeria.

We have no doubt in our minds that in terms of capacity this team
leaves so much to be desired. It is telling that this is the only
period in Nigeria’s history where no thorough-bred economist is among
the true drivers and managers of the nation’s economy. When the chips
are down the economy would be in the hands of the Vice President and
chairman of National Economic Council and the Minister of budget and
planning who are both lawyers, as well as the Central Bank Governor
and the finance minister none of who has a post-graduate degree in

For all it was worth, the economic management team under the past
administration comprised of both government officials and successful
private sector people. This was in line with the thinking that for
sustainable economic growth, the government can only create the
environment for a private sector-led growth, which usually would
reduce the issue of rent seekers and corruption in public enterprises.
The idea of having private sector operators in the management team is
that it enables the government not only to control the planning mechanisms to ensure that the
economy works for the people but also guarantees that you do not
shortchange the private sector people who are obviously the drivers of
the economy.

Our advice to Mr. President is to do what is right by injecting
competent hands and advisers into the economic team so that his
administration can make the needed impact in the effective economic
management of our country’s resources.

We need a carefully crafted economic agenda, that would provide the
direction out of the present challenge of dwindling oil revenue in a
mono-cultural economy, worsening unemployment and collapsing currency.
  Only a clear-thinking, inward-looking economic team will deliver the

Nobody is challenging the headship of the economic team by Vice
President Yemi Osinbajo but what is worth doing at all is worth doing
well. If the All Progress Congress (APC) led government is to be taken
seriously with its mantra of true change, it must do what is right in
the eyes of the electorates and the international community before we
become a laughing stock.  Competent people including those with
pedigree in the private sector must be brought into the economic
management team if it must be taken seriously. Square pegs in square
holes is what the economy requires at this time!

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