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HomeTop NewsEx-Minister, Ezekwesili describes Atiku claims he chaired Obasanjo's Economic Management Team as...

Ex-Minister, Ezekwesili describes Atiku claims he chaired Obasanjo’s Economic Management Team as false

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By Oludare Mayowa

Former minister of Education and World Bank Vice President, Oby Ezekwesili has tackled the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar over his claim that he superintended over the Presidential Management Team under the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo.

In a series of tweets on her Verified Twitter handle on Tuesday, Ezekwesili noted that there is a difference between the Economic Management Team set up by ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo and the  National Economic Council established by the 1999 Constitution.

According to the ex-minister, while the economic team was a technical team consisting of 12 persons was co-chaired by the president and the minister of finance, while NEC was a creation of the constitution and a mere advisory body and was chaired by the vice president.

“There is no sincere basis for confusing the work of the Presidential Economic Management Team … with the National Economic Council, provided for in the Constitution and chaired by a Vice President. The functions are not the same at all,” Ezekwesili wrote in the tweets.

While speaking with the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) in Lagos on Monday and also in a tweet on Tuesday, Atiku had claimed that “As head of the economic management team while I was Vice President, I was instrumental in designing a private sector revival strategy and advocated for the opening of the economy for private sector investments in several sectors. And we made tremendous progress.

“I’m sure you still remember the good old days of rapid economic growth with stable interest and exchange rates, low inflation, low unemployment rates, and low poverty headcount. We paid off nearly all of our foreign debt which was crippling the country.”

But debunking the claim by Atiku, the ex-Vice President of the World Bank and Member of the Obasanjo-led Economic Management team said the PDP candidate’s claim was false and counsel him to delete the tweet where he repeated the claim.

“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 Reform Agenda during his 2nd Term in office 2003-2007.

“In constituting the Economic Team, we designed it @ two levels of Leadership: 1. Political Leadership: The President Olusegun Obasanjo 2. Technical Leadership: The Minister of Finance, Okonjo-Iweala. Our Team also had Thematic Issues Lead, e.g. I was for Good Governance.

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“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 (Yemi) Osinbajo is really an advisory organ that provides 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.

“Let me end on the note that former Vice President Atiku and his supporters should appreciate this elucidation and sincere clarification of the distinction between the Presidential Economic Management Team on the one hand, and the National Economic Council on the other.

Former Vice President Atiku can delete the tweet I reacted to and duly lay claim to having chaired the National Economic Council at which he and state Governors met monthly. Do not confuse this anymore with the Economic Management Team. I hope others also learned something.

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