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On President Tinubu’s economic teams

As March drew to a close, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu announced the creation of two more committees on the management of the economy, and a…

As March drew to a close, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu announced the creation of two more committees on the management of the economy, and a modification of the activities of an existing one. The new committees he created are: the Presidential Economic Coordination Council (PECC) and the Economic Management Team Emergency Task force. Meanwhile, the Economic Management Team, which the president constituted late last year, will now function as the working group under the PECC, playing a crucial role in the economic governance structure established by the president.

Among them, the three committees have membership comprising several prominent Nigerians, including President Tinubu and Vice President Kashim Shettima, who are chairman and vice chairman, respectively of the PECC. The creation of these committees is part of the steps by the administration to solve the problems facing the nation. Nigerians are currently grappling with an unprecedented economic challenge marked by high inflation, hunger, low-level existence across the board, and rising poverty levels.

The truth, however, is that there are now too many committees and we believe that everything these committees will come up with could equally be achieved with the current structures, including the National Economic Council and the Federal Executive Council, if people do their jobs well. While committees may be useful in solving problems, their creation must not be presented as the solution to the economic challenges. A high percentage of members of the teams are people who have stakes in the present administration, either as ministers or heads of key departments of the government, including the central bank, the tax agency, etc.  

We believe politicians and parties should have their policies/plans. The raft of activities heralding the formation of these committees does not sync with the much-celebrated manifesto of the APC and the plans of the president. What has happened to the Renewed Hope manifesto?

Already, the announcement of the composition of these teams has been welcomed in some quarters with distrust or cynicism by people who believe that some members of the committees are related to the current economic crisis, so why bring them in now?

By next month, this administration will clock one year in office, yet the material condition of the average Nigerian has not improved. It has worsened. In the face of the poor performance in some key areas of the economy, why is the president hesitant in removing non-performing members of this team?

The president has a Special Assistant on Policy Coordination, so with the myriad of committees and crisscrossing memberships, what becomes of her role? There is also a potent danger of administrative complexity injecting unintended consequences into the committees’ effectiveness. For instance, the EET is to meet twice weekly and “submit a comprehensive plan of economic interventions for 2024 to the PECC”. The plan, which will cover the next six months, will be approved by the PECC, and be ready for immediate implementation two weeks from the date of the committee’s inauguration.

While we support the sense of urgency being shown here, we are worried, however, that there is a danger of losing the substance to form and process. We also remind all those involved in the whole process that planning for a nation is different from planning for a corporate entity.

 We, at Daily Trust, believe that now that the teams have been formed, their mandate should be first to revive the nation’s ailing industries, from agriculture to manufacturing, so that they can create jobs and produce goods and services. As long as we do not have a functional industrial sector, we cannot have jobs for our youths. The committees should aim to make Nigeria a producing nation once more.

To achieve this, we need stability in the macroeconomic environment. We need stability in the foreign exchange market and a stable general price level. We cannot achieve these with the current level of uncertainty in the exchange and inflation rates.

The foreign exchange market must be stabilised in the long run for a sustained inflow of critically needed investments. To achieve this, we must encourage local production to stabilise the naira, which will help Nigerians to put food on the table even with their meager incomes.  The current state of the Nigerian economy demands deep thinking that has been lacking in the management of our resources and challenges. The committees must agree on the key sectors on which they should focus their attention for quick wins. In our view, power, infrastructure, agriculture, and security must feature prominently on the list that they eventually come up with. 


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