President Muhammadu Buhari, Monday, replaced his first term Economic Management Team (EMT) with a more independent minded 8-member Economic Advisory Council (EAC) that will report directly to him. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who headed the old team is not even a member of this new one. It is headed by Prof. Doyin Salami.
A statement by Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media, Femi Adesina, named Dr. Mohammed Sagagi as vice-chairman. The secretary is Dr. Mohammed Adams Salisu. He is the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Development Policy. A former governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, is a member. The others are Professor Ode Ojowu, Dr. Shehu Yahaya, Dr. Iyabo Masha and Mr. Bismark Rewane.
The presidential statement said the EAC “will advise the President on economic policy matters, including fiscal analysis, economic growth and a range of internal and global economic issues working with the relevant cabinet members and heads of monetary and fiscal agencies. The EAC will have monthly technical sessions as well as scheduled quarterly meetings with the President. The Chairman may, however, request for unscheduled meetings if the need arises”.
The new team is made up of technocrats, experts in various fields that are related to the economy. Soludu, for instance, is an Economics professor and one-time governor of CBN. He is a member of the British Department for International Development’s International Advisory Group. He is only 59 years old. Bismark Rewane is the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Financial Derivatives Company Limited in Lagos. He has more than 30 years experience as an economist, banker and financial analyst. He is a chartered member of the Institute of Bankers of England and Wales and a Fellow of The Nigerian Institute of Bankers.
The preponderance of experts, particularly economists and financial analysts is what distinguishes this new team from the old one. It was made made up of politicians and bureaucrats. Many Nigerians wrote it off as no economic team at all. That Buhari has dispensed with it shows he has listening ears. It also means that his government will this time pay more attention to the economy. Yes, the war against corruption will still be on the front burner but the priority will be how to return the economy to the path of growth.