President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday assured members of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC) that his administration will be bound by their advice on economy related matters.
The Prof. Doyin Salami-led 8-man council has Dr Mohammed Sagagi as vice chairman and the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Development Policy, Dr Mohammed Salisu, as secretary.
Other members are former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Prof. Chukwuma Soludo; Managing Director/CEO of Financial Derivatives Company Limited, Mr Bismark Rewane; Prof. Ode Ojowu, Dr Shehu Yahaya, and Dr Iyabo Masha.
The two ministers in the Ministry of Finance have been co-opted as members, even as the president accepted that the EAC should now brief him more frequently, at least once every six weeks, instead of once every quarter.
A statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity), Garba Shehu, said the president, in line with the views and recommendations by the council, noted that “the lack of synergy between ministries, departments and agencies would no longer be accepted. We are working for the country, not for personal interests. We have the same objective of service to the people and we will resolve this.”
Reviewing the work of the Council since its inauguration to replace the Economic Management Team (EMT), President Buhari said: “I am highly pleased based on what I have read in your Executive Summary with the painstaking thoroughness of your preliminary report. I have noted the salient points of your report and these will be incorporated in government economic policies.
“The economy is the most delicate and sensitive of all aspects of national life. A little change in the matrix can lead to major disruptions in the national economy. For example, international changes in oil prices, bad harvests, conflicts in strategic global locations, a major epidemic or pandemic like the current Coronavirus, tariff changes in major world economies, to mention only a few examples that readily come to mind, can significantly affect our plans.”
President Buhari thanked the members for their patriotism and commitment in accepting the challenging responsibilities conferred on them.
Earlier in the submission of their report, Prof Salami, supported by interventions by Council members, responded to questions by the President and his team in which they outlined a number of challenging opportunities facing the economy, and preferred solutions to most of them.
In addition to the issue of synergy which the President addressed at the meeting, the Council raised concerns that the rate of the growth of the economy is slower than the rate the country’s population is growing; the need to strengthen national statistical agencies; reform procurement processes; improve education; and the need for job planning in training offered by academic institutions.
The Council also brought to the government their views on borrowing, macroeconomic stability and the need to provide a friendly climate for foreign investment.
“We need an environment that will attract investment. People will come only when they feel confident and when they come, their exit will not be challenging,” said Prof. Salami.
The council resolved to focus on legacy projects by the administration before 2023.