The Economic Advisory Council of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has identified the lack of “synergy” between Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government as a major factor delaying delivery of set economic goals.
It noted that ministry and agency heads appeared to lack coordination, leading to their working largely at cross purposes.
The EAC, which is chaired by Prof. Doyin Salami, had submitted an executive brief on its meetings to Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Thursday.
It was the first formal meeting with Buhari after he named the eight-member body on September 16, 2019.
The EAC replaced the former Economic Management Team headed by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.
Presenting the report to Buhari at the closed-door meeting, Salami told the President that apart from the lack of synergy, his regime needed to strengthen agencies and all procurement processes to give a boost to the economy.
The EAC particularly noted that the economy had grown at a slower rate, compared to the growth of Nigeria’s population, an indication that there weren’t enough productive activities to take care of the burgeoning population.
“In addition to the issue of synergy which the President addressed at the meeting, the council raised concerns that the rate of the growth of the economy is slower than the rate the country’s population is growing; the need to strengthen national statistical agencies; reform procurement processes; improve education; and the need for job planning in training offered by academic institutions.
“The council also brought to the government their views on borrowing, macroeconomic stability and the need to provide a friendly climate for foreign investment”, a Presidency statement issued after the meeting by Buhari’s media aide, Mr Garba Shehu, said.
Salami also told Buhari that the Nigerian economic environment must evolve strategies to attract quality foreign investments.
“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,” Salami added.
The EAC also requested to meet with Buhari more frequently like every six weeks, as against the current requirement of meeting with him quarterly.
While reacting to the report of the EAC, Buhari asked the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, to “immediately (address) the observed lapses in coordination between ministries and all agencies of government.”
The President had observed that heads of ministries and agencies were not appointed to work for their own personal interests but for the good of the whole nation.
Buhari warned, “The lack of synergy between ministries, departments and agencies will 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.”
The retired major general was said to have applauded the work done so far by the EAC, promising that he would take action on their recommendations.
He said, “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.”
The President admitted before the EAC members that economic policies were delicate and must be executed in such a way to produce the best results, else the country could face deeper challenges.
He stated, “The economy is the most delicate and sensitive of all aspects of national life. A little change in the matrix can lead to major disruptions in the national economy.
“For example, international changes in oil prices, bad harvests, conflicts in strategic global locations, a major epidemic or pandemic like the current coronavirus, tariff changes in major world economies, to mention only a few examples that readily come to mind, can significantly affect our plans.”
Buhari thanked the members for their commitment, yielding to the request to meet with him every six weeks.
“I cannot thank you enough for your patriotism”, Buhari added.
Other members of the EAC are a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof Chukwuma Soludo; Dr Shehu Yahaya; Dr Iyabo Masha; Dr Bismack Rewane; and Dr Mohammed Adaya-Salisu.
The Minister of Finance/Budget/National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, and the Minister of State (Budget), Mr Clement Agba, are co-opted members.