Atiku Was Never Head of Economic Management Team—Ezekwesili
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
A former Nigerian Minister, Mrs Oby Ezekwesili, has asked former Vice President Atiku Abubakar to stop parading himself as the head of the Economic Management Team of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Mr Obasanjo governed the country as a civilian between 1999 and 2007 with Mr Atiku, who intends to become the next Nigerian president this year.
He is contesting the position with the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the candidate of the Labour Party, Mr Peter Obi, and others.
On Monday, the former VP, through his official Twitter page, said, “As the head of the economic management team, while I was Vice President, I was instrumental in designing a private sector revival strategy and advocated the opening of the economy for private sector investments in several sectors, and we made tremendous progress.”
But the co-convener of the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) movement, in response to the tweet, described Mr Atiku’s claim as a lie, saying he never headed the Economic Management Team but the National Economic Council (NEC), which the constitution makes provision for the VP to lead.
“Dear former Vice President Atiku, please ask the handlers of your @Twitter account to stop misleading the public. You were never the Head of the Economic Management Team.
“This absurd lie does you no good at all. Please ask your Team to stop it,” she responded.
She further wrote, “There is a difference between the Economic Management Team set up for the 1st time ever in 2003 by President Obasanjo and the National Economic Council established by the 1999 Constitution as amended; Section 153(1) and Paragraphs 18 & 19 of Part I of the Third Schedule.
“The Presidential Economic Management Team (we called it “The Economic Team” for brevity) was a Technical Team of 12 persons from a range of expertise whom President Obasanjo constituted to drive Nigeria’s Economic Reforms Agenda during his 2nd Term in office 2003-2007.
“In constituting the Economic Team, we designed it @ two levels of Leadership: 1. Political Leadership [headed by] President Olusegun Obasanjo, and the Technical Leadership [headed by] The Minister of Finance, Dr Okonjo-Iweala.
“Our Team also had Thematic Issues Lead, e.g. I was for Good Governance.
“At the Political Leadership level of the Economic Team, the then President, Olusegun Obasanjo, instituted a Weekly Meeting before the Federal Executive Council where he would meet with us his Economic Team to discuss the Economic Reform Agenda. The President was Chair.
“As Chair of the Political Leadership Level of the Economic Team, the then President decided (usually with the counsel of his Economic Team) which sectoral Ministers, or Heads of Agencies, Parastatals and Departments joined this Weekly Wednesday meeting held before FEC meeting.
“As Chair of the Technical Level Leadership, the then Minister of Finance was the Head of our Technocratic Team of 12 persons, which met in her office at the Ministry statutorily weekly and as often as necessary daily as we designed and began implementing the Economic Reforms.
“There is no sincere basis for confusing the work of the Presidential Economic Management Team that I described in the previous tweets with the National Economic Council, provided for in the Constitution and chaired by a Vice President. The functions are not the same at all. None.
“National Economic Council consists of: (a) Vice-President as the Chairman; (b) the Governor of each State of the Federation; and (c) the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria established under the Central Bank of Nigeria Decree 1991 or any enactment replacing that Decree.
“Constitutionally, National Economic Council advises the President concerning the economic affairs of the Federation, and in particular on measures necessary for the coordination of the economic planning efforts or economic programmes of the various Governments of the Federation.
“The National Economic Council, which former Vice President Atiku constitutionally chaired and now by Professor Osinbajo, is really an advisory organ that provides an opportunity for the Federal Government and States of the Federation to discuss our Economy for coordination purposes.
“The 1999 Constitution also has the Vice President as the Chairperson of the National Council on Privatization. In that capacity, it is the duty of the Vice President to supervise the work of the Bureau for Public Enterprise BPE on behalf of the President.”