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Much Ado About An Economic Team | TheNation


WHEN you take a look at the federal cabinet President Muhammadu Buhari put in place, you will see a fair share of technocrats. But the President had signaled much earlier his preference for people with such technical expertise when he picked Prof. Yemi Osinbajo as his running mate in December 2014.

Then if you review the membership of the President’s Economic Management Team (EMT), what is clear is that these are Nigerians with knowledge, the experience and the integrity. Virtually all of them – high-flyers- came from some solid private sector endeavours in the past, spanning between 20-30 years each.

But this team has not been heralded like previous EMTs of past governments. There were no formal events to announce its composition and certainly no media blitz of any kind about its work.

The inadvertent outcome however is that although the team has been formed since October last year, soon after the composition of the cabinet, its work has gone unreported. There were even some calls for an economic team to be constituted.

In an exclusive chat with The Interview in its July edition, President Buhari said regarding his EMT: “We will listen to everybody but we are averse to economic teams whose private sector members frequently steer government policy to suit their own narrow interests rather than the over-all national interest.”

He said the Vice President is the head of the EMT and listed some of the members after he was asked about the team’s existence.

Certainly, as one of the residential spokesmen, Mr. Laolu Akande reportedly explained, the President and his EMT just simply wanted to go to work and get the job done.

According to Akande, the Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity in the Office of the Vice President, “it is the enormity of the challenge that confronts the nation that concerns members of the EMT, not so much the photo-opportunities.”

Other EMT members are: Minister of Finance Mrs Kemi Adeosun, Minister of Trade & Investment Dr Okechukwu Enelamah Minister of Power, Works & Housing Babatunde Raji Fashola, Minister of Transport Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Agriculture Chief Audu Ogbeh and Minister of Information Tourism & Culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed.

Others are: Minister of State, Petroleum Resources Dr Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, Special Adviser to the President on Economic Matters Dr Adeyemi Dipeolu, Director-General of the Budget Office Dr Ben Akabueze, Director-General of the Debt Management Office (DMO) Dr. Abraham Nwankwo and Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele.

While the President does not want an EMT with full-time private sector membership, the team, according to Akande, has met several times with economic experts and members of the Organised Private Sector (OPS) both as organisations and sector by sector.

On Monday, September 19, at the Presidential Villa, the EMT held an open forum with business leaders, stakeholders and OPS members for over two hours.

Also the EMT works with different economic experts from time to time in formal and informal settings. At last week’s cabinet retreat, some of the experts were in attendance. Akande said the experts must have interacted formally with the EMT for no fewer than five times formally since its formation.

Some of those experts are:

Mr. Bismarck Rewane, a leading economic expert and Chief Executive of Financial Derivatives Company Limited

Prof. Badayi Sani, an economist from Bayero University, Kano and a member of the CBN Monetary Policy Committee (MPC).

Prof. Akpan Ekpo, Director-General of the West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management (WAIFEM).

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