Four months after their inauguration, President Muhammadu Buhari will today, meet members of his Economic Team, amidst a myriad of economic challenges in the country.
Among other issues, the recent economic decisions by the government, particularly the border closure policy and implementation of the Finance Act 2020, as it relates to the hike of the Value Added Tax, VAT, to 7.5 percent, continue to take a huge toll on the citizenry.
Sources said that this would be the first time the President will be meeting the members since their inauguration, heightening speculations that the members have not achieved much thus far.
The members replaced the Economic Management Team, headed by Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo.
Recall, that the President had on October 9, 2019, inaugurated the Presidential Economic Advisory Council, PEAC, led by Prof. Doyin Salami.
Dr. Mohammed Sagagi is the Vice Chairman of the Economic Council, while the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Development Policy, Dr. Mohammed Salisu, is the Secretary.
Other members of the 8-man Council include a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo; Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Financial Derivatives Company Limited, Mr. Bismark Rewane; Prof. Ode Ojowu; Dr. Shehu Yahaya; and Dr. Iyabo Masha.
The key issue Nigerians believe should pre-occupy the President’s mind today, is how the Team could frontally tackle the lingering challenges in the economy.
Former Chief Executive Officer of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON, Mustafa Chike-Obi, had tweeted on January 11, that: “It is now 4 months since the acclaimed Economic Advisory Council was announced by PMB. We are yet to hear of any concrete policy directives, or feel any impact from the EAC. I sincerely hope we hear from them before the 6-month timeline, so it is not seen as just another stunt.”
Analysts said that 4 months after the inauguration with a lot of expectations, the prospect and impact of the Council has not been felt directly in the economy.
It was authoritatively gathered that the Council has remained largely inactive over the past 4 months, as there are no elaborate formal meetings to fast track the economy. The members reportedly met in January, even as the agenda and issues discussed at the meeting are yet to be made public.
A source in the Presidency, who pleaded not to be identified, confirmed that: “The Council has only met once since its inauguration, but I know the members are interacting and sharing ideas and exchanging notes informally, on how they can go about the assignment given to them.”
President Buhari had last weekend, during an interview with an online medium, The Interview, said that the activities of the Professor Salami-led Team are not intended for public disclosure, assuring however, that the Council’s work would be appreciated by the citizenry.
Responding to one of the questions during the interview, Buhari maintained that: “They do not have to play to the gallery in doing their work. They do not have to do it on the pages of newspapers, but rest assured that they are working quietly and efficiently. Results are what matter, and you will see their influence on our economic policies in due course.”