The new Economic Advisory Council (EAC) will henceforth brief President Muhammadu Buhari at least once in six weeks, rather than quarterly, the presidency has announced.
Presidential spokesperson, Shehu Garba, announced this on Thursday at the end of a meeting President Buhari had with the eight-member council chaired by Doyin Salami, a professor of Economics.
Mr Buhari pledged to be guided by the advice of the Council on matters related to the economy, considering the strategic importance of the issues.
“The economy is the most delicate and sensitive of all aspects of our national life. A little change in the matrix can lead to major disruptions in the national economy,” he noted.
He cited the examples of changes in crude oil prices at the international market, bad harvests, conflicts in strategic global locations, a major epidemic or pandemic like the current breakout of Coronavirus in China, tariff changes in major world economies, as capable of significantly affecting the plans of the administration.
During the meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Mr Buhari directed the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, to immediately address the lapses in coordination between ministries and all agencies of government raised in the council’s report.
After listening to the presentation of the report on macroeconomic importance and their views and recommendations, President Buhari warned 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,” he assured the council.
Reviewing the work of the council, which replaced the former Economic Management Team (EMT), Mr Buhari praised the quality of the content of the report.
“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,” he said.
On the challenges facing the economy and the tasks before members of the council, the president directed that the council should now be briefing him more frequently, at least once every six weeks, instead of once every quarter.
Earlier, after submitting the council report, Mr Salami also provided answers to questions by the president and his team, supported by contributions by other council members.
He outlined a number of challenges facing the economy, and proffered solutions to most of them.
Apart from the issue of synergy, the president also expressed concern that the growth rate of the economy is slower than the growth rate of the population.
He stressed the need to strengthen national statistical agencies, reform procurement processes, improve education and job planning in training offered by academic institutions.
The council also brought to the government its views on borrowing, macroeconomic stability and the need to create 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 Mr Salami.
At the end of the meeting, the council resolved to focus on the delivery of legacy projects by the administration before 2023.
The Council has Mohammed Sagagi as Vice-Chairman, with the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Chukwuma Soludo; and CEO, Financial Derivatives Company Limited, Bismarck Rewane, as members.
Other members are Ode Ojowu, Shehu Yahaya, Iyabo Masha, Mohammed Adaya Salisu as well as two ministers in the Federal Ministry of Finance co-opted into the Council.