…Describing Members as First Class Professionals, Academics …Says it’s an Effective, Knowledge Driven Body The Emir of Kano, Malam Muhammadu Sanusi II, has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for constituting an Economic Advisory Council (EAC) comprising first-rate professionals and academics even as speculations are rife that it is a move designed to undermine the Vice
…Describing Members as First Class Professionals, Academics
…Says it’s an Effective, Knowledge Driven Body
The Emir of Kano, Malam Muhammadu Sanusi II, has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for constituting an Economic Advisory Council (EAC) comprising first-rate professionals and academics even as speculations are rife that it is a move designed to undermine the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo.
Sanusi gave the commendation on Wednesday in Kano while briefing newsmen at his Palace.
Eulogising the members in glowing terms, the emir, while briefing newsmen in Kano, described the new council as “first class,” noting that the move was “timely and reflective of Buhari’s determination to re-energise the management of the economy”.
He said Nigerians were highly desirous of such an effective and knowledge-driven team to provide the lead on the economic front.
According to him, the beauty of the team, apart from the pedigree of its members, is their private sector experience and their independence.
“If you look at the system we operate, if you also look at the United States, every US President always has a council of economic advisers.
“One of the reasons you have this council is you want independent academics who are able to give you frank and honest advice on how to run the economy and address its problems.
“What the President has done is to follow that pattern to appoint a team of highly respected professionals to advise him, especially this time when we have economic problems, fiscal issues.
“When global economy is facing uncertainty due to trade wars, it is important that the President has a high quality advice,” he said.
Sanusi said that advisers and economists praise things done positively and recommend areas of improvement.
According to him, the team put together is fantastic, as he has worked with most of them at different times.
“I have not been critical of government economic policies, what I have always done is to say the things that they have done right and offer advice to things that need to be done,” he said.
The royal father said that the team was balanced with the combination of Prof Charles Soludo, Dr Mohammed Sagagi, Prof Doyin Salami and Dr Shehu Yahaya, who are highly respected professionals.
“We have experts in different fields; monetary policy, fiscal policy, development and financial market. It’s a good step in the right direction,” he said.
In a surprised move to reassert his hold on the economy, the President on Monday replaced the erstwhile Economic Management Team chaired by the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo with the Economic Advisory Council
The new EAC which has Prof. Doyin Salami as its chairman, will report directly to President Buhari.
Other members of the new council, according to a statement by Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to the President, Mr Femi Adesina, include Dr. Mohammed Sagagi – Vice-Chairman, Prof. Ode Ojowu – Member, Dr. Shehu Yahaya – Member, Dr. Iyabo Masha – Member, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo – Member, Mr. Bismark Rewane – Member and Dr. Mohammed Adaya Salisu – Secretary. Salisu is also the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Development Policy
“This advisory council will replace the current Economic Management Team (EMT) and will be reporting directly to the President.
“The Economic Advisory Council (EAC) will advise the President on economic policy matters, including fiscal analysis, economic growth and a range of internal and global economic issues working with the relevant cabinet members and heads of monetary and fiscal agencies.
“The EAC will have monthly technical sessions as well as scheduled quarterly meetings with the President. The Chairman may, however, request for unscheduled meetings if the need arises,” the statement said.
In spite of speculation that the dissolution of the EMT was some dress rehearsal to undermine the Vice President, Prof Osinbajo on Thursday presided over the monthly National Economic Council (NEC) at the State House, Abuja.
Osinbajo’s spokesperson, Mr Laolu Akande disclosed this on his twitter handle.
He noted that state Governors, the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor and some members of the Federal Executive Council were in attendance.
“Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is now presiding over the monthly National Economic Council, NEC meeting with state Governors, CBN Governor and some members of the FEC.
“NEC is the constitutional body that advises the President on the coordination of economic affairs of the Nigerian federation,” he tweeted.
This meeting is the second since the inauguration of President Buhari’s cabinet for the second term.
But sources say there’s a definite plan to strip the Vice President bare of his powers as part of the political calculation for 2023 election. Could it be mere coincidence that the EMT was being dissolved about the same time that the Special Presidential Investigations Panel on Recovery of Public Assets (SPIP), headed by Mr Okoi Obono-Obla set up by Osinbajo, was equally dissolved, they reasoned.
Some of the agencies like National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) that are ordinarily within the purview of the Vice Preident would rather deal directly with the President than Osinbajo. There are also reports that some of Osinbajo’s aides had been moved out of the Presidential Villa, Abuja and seconded to some Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
It was reported that The Presidency was planning to remove the Social Investment Programme which comprises the Trader Moni initiative, N-Power, school feeding programme and other welfare programmes which are under the Vice President to the newly created Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development headed by Mrs Sadiya Umar.
There are also memos flying in the Presidency said to have indicted the Vice President for acting without following due process. Akande however dismissed all these as part of a deliberate plot to sow seeds of discord in the Presidency
“This is obviously misleading and aims only to plant seeds of discord in the Presidency, while attempting to create unnecessary national hysteria”, he said.
“The agencies in question are established by law and the Vice-President has always insisted on due compliance with the enabling statutes and other established regulations.
“Depending on the particular scope of activity in question, agencies may require management approval only, at the level of the Director-General or Chief Executive Officer. In this category falls the great majority of their day-to-day activities.
“However, other activities, or procurements, with value exceeding a certain threshold, require board approval. These may get to the agency board chaired by the Vice-President. In a few cases where Presidential approval is required, the Director-General must seek such approval from the President, through the Vice-President.
“These rules have always guided the activities of statutory agencies and the ones under the Vice-President’s supervision have always been so guided,” Akande said.
Buhari’s Spokesman, Mr Adesina, an interview on Channels Television’s ‘Politics Today’ programme on Wednesday, said the economic management team led by the Vice-President was dissolved for better management of the economy.
Parrying the question whether dissolution of Osinbajo’s EMT signalled friction between the President and his deputy, Adesina said, “Nothing out of the ordinary is going on. Governance
continues and the Presidency remains one. And this Presidency just wants to do what’s best for Nigeria.
“But unfortunately our country is one in which even if a 100-year-old man dies, people will still want to find out what killed him.
“In Nigeria there are too many inferences from things that are just normal and natural; things that are designed to accelerate governance and make sure there is probity and accountability. They will find all sorts of inferences. All that President Buhari has done particularly this week is just to tweak governance and get the best for Nigerians.”
The President’s spokesman said he was not aware of alleged plans by the Presidency to remove the Social Investment Programme from Osinbajo’s control.
He said the new economic advisory council which would report directly to the President, could sometimes report to the Vice-President when the need arose.
Adesina added, “You seem to forget that the Vice-President is the number two man in the country. If the President is away, the Vice-President acts because it is a joint ticket. Therefore, the new economic advisory body can also relate with the Vice-President when necessary.
“It is just some Nigerians who want to drive a wedge between the President and the Vice-President that read meaning to everything. They insinuate about everything. It is still one Presidency and decisions taken are best for the country,” he said.