Following its first formal meeting with the President after its inauguration in September, the Economic Advisory Council of Nigeria (EAC), which is chaired by Prof. Doyin Salami, submitted an executive brief on its meetings to the President late last week.
The EAC replaced the former Economic Management Team headed by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo which was made up of members of the ministerial cabinet as well as heads of key economic parastals like the CBN and DMO. The new EAC consists of respected economic technocrats within the country.
According to a Presidency statement issued after the meeting by Buhari’s media aide, Garba Shehu, the committee identified a lack of synergy between Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government as a major factor delaying delivery of set economic goals. The council also raised concerns around the rate of the growth of the economy which still lags the country’s population growth rate.
Other issues raised by the committee are the need to strengthen national statistical agencies, reform procurement processes, improve education and training format and provide a friendly climate for foreign investments. The committee also noted an increase in the frequency of its meetings with the President to every six weeks from once in a quarter previously.
Nigeria’s history of brilliant committees with sub-optimal performance continues to dampen our expectations from the EAC. The Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), and the recently dissolved Economic Management Team (EMT) are all examples of committees who have had little or no impact as economic performance remains well below ERGP projections.
We reiterate again that the success of any economic think tank is highly dependent on the implementation of the recommendations made. The EAC reports directly to the President and has no say in the area of execution. Consequently, we expect to see situations where suggested policies by the EAC may not be implemented due to clash with the political and business interests of a few.
While the country is in dire need of purposeful and assertive technocrats with integrity to recommend and implement favourable economic policies, it is uncertain whether the EAC reflects seriousness on the part of the Presidency or just an attempt at playing to the gallery to shut the mouth of critics, especially as it has only an advisory role.
That said, we are a little optimistic that the committee may be able to suggest pro-growth policies that will help in attracting much needed foreign direct investment to accelerate economic growth, improve job creation and reduce unemployment levels.