The Economic Advisory Council (EAC) on Thursday raised concern about the slow rate at which the nation’s economy is growing.
The team called President Muhammadu Buhari’s attention to the situation during a meeting held at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
Led by Professor Doyin Salami, the eight-member council noted that the economy was improving at a slower pace compared to that of the nation’s population.
Presenting their report, Professor Salami, supported by interventions by Council members, responded to questions by the President and his team.
They outlined some of the challenges facing the economy and proffered solutions to most of them.
The Way Forward
The Council asked the Federal Government to strengthen national statistical agencies, reform procurement processes, improve education.
It also stressed the need for job planning in training offered by academic institutions.
EAC also brought to the government its 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 Professor Salami.
The council also resolved to focus on legacy projects by the administration before 2023.
In his response, President Buhari gave a firm commitment that his administration would be bound by the council’s advice on economy-related matters.
He, therefore, gave the first directive from EAC’s recommendations that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, should urgently address the lapses observed in coordination between ministries and all agencies of the government.
“The lack of synergy between Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) would no longer be accepted,” the President warned in a statement by his media aide, Garba Shehu.
He added, “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.”
The Most Delicate Aspect
Reviewing the work of the Council since its inauguration, 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 President also spoke about the challenges facing the economy and the tasks that rest on the shoulders of the members.
According to him, the economy is the most delicate and sensitive of all aspects of national life and a little change in the matrix can lead to major disruptions in the nation’s 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 noted.
He also asked the EAC should now brief him more frequently, at least once every six weeks rather than once every quarter.
The President thanked the members for their patriotism and commitment in accepting the challenging responsibilities conferred on them.
In addition to Professor Salami, the Council has Dr Mohammed Sagagi as vice-chairman six economic experts as members.
They are Professor Ode Ojowu, Dr Shehu Yahaya, Dr Iyabo Masha, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, Dr Bismack Rewane, and Dr Mohammed Salisu.
The two ministers in the Ministry of Finance also serve as co-opted members.