The 3 biggest issues that could cause deadlock between Buhari and his new Economic Advisory Council

Bismark Rewane and President Muhammadu Buhari
  • Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, has constituted an Economic Advisory Council (EAC), headed by Dr. Doyin Salami.
  • The EAC will advise the President on economic policy matters, including fiscal analysis, economic growth and a range of internal and global economic issues.
  • Business Insider SSA looks at 3 issues before the council.

On Monday, September 16th, Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari constituted an economic advisory council, the first since inception of APC-led government in 2015.

The new economic team will replace the former economic management team headed by Nigeria's vice president, Yemi Osinbajo.

Femi Adesina, special adviser to the president on media and publicity, said the economic council will report directly to the president.

Members of the Economic Advisory Council

Doyin Salami, Chairman - a senior lecturer at the Lagos Business School and former member of the monetary policy committee of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

  • Mohammed Sagagi as the vice-chairman
  • Ode Ojowu – member
  • Shehu Yahaya – member
  • Iyabo Masha – member
  • Chukwuma Soludo – member
  • Bismark Rewane – member
  • Mohammed Adaya Salisu – secretary (senior special assistant to the president, development policy)

Unlike the presidential economic team, the new economic council consists of policy and economic experts. The previous team headed by Yemi Osinbajo was made up of ministers, governors and political officials.

Business Insider SSA looks at 3 biggest issues before the new Economic Council: 

1. Policy direction on Nigerian naira in the FX market 

Early this year, Dr. Doyin Salami while speaking at the NASD OTC Securities Exchange 2019 Business Breakfast meeting in Lagos, observed that the Nigerian naira is probably already overvalued for as high as 10%. 

But another member of the team and former Central Bank governor, Charles Soludo was of the view that the current multiple FX regime in the country is not healthy. Soludo, at the 8th annual Pan-Africa Investor Conference organised by Renaissance Capital, an international investment bank, two years ago, described the N306 official rate of the Central Bank as redundant and an instrument for 'rent-seekers and arbitrary allocators'. 

He had advised the government to eliminate the policy. Bismarck Rewane is also a pro-market economist and has, on different fora, resist price-fixing by the government, calling for a true reflection of the exchange rate. 

Analysts and monetary experts including international organisations have called on pro-market approach and asked Nigerian to align its local currency with economic realities. They believed the country needs to stop defending the naira and allow its free flow at the foreign exchange market. An idea that did not go down with President Buhari's direction on the Naira. 

This conflict of ideas on market approach, is one thing the Economic Advisory Council will have to battle with the president and his core cabinet team.

2. To remove not to remove fuel subsidies

Most of the members also believed the fuel subsidies are a huge drain on the government’s revenue. This is one advice that may get their way under Buhari's black book as the president is pro-people with the belief that the removal may cause instant hardship as the price of petrol increase.

Bismarck Rewane had also supported calls for the removal of controversial fuel subsidy in Nigeria, describing it as a criminal enterprise. 

Last year, fuel subsidy payment cost Nigeria more than $2 billion, according to the NNPC financial report.

3. Independence of the Economic Council on economic direction

These are core economic experts. They views and opinion on economic matters are strong and well enough to project the country’s economy. The success or failure of the new economic council will largely depend on various interference from political office holders including the direction of President Buhari-led government. 

This includes how the fiscal and monetary authorities will be able to handle, take advice and suggestions from the team on economic policies and expedite actions.

In a series of Tweets on Monday, Oby Ezekwesili, Nigeria's former minister and Senior Economic Advisor at Africa Economic Development Policy Initiative, urged the Advisors to “tell the President how he mismanaged the Economy in the last 4 years.”

The setting up a Council of Economic Advisors is in itself one of the features of the American Presidential system which we copied. Strong membership and that’s really great.

“I hope the first thing they do is tell the President how he mismanaged the Economy in the last 4 years,” part of the tweets read.

She described the previous economic team headed by Osinbajo as a 'figurehead,' saying the president was the one managing the economic policies.


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