The delay by President Muhammadu Buhari in constituting his economic team more than six months after assuming office has continued to worry industry watchers who argue that the development is taking a serious toll on government businesses.
Apart from the constitution of his principal officers and cabinet, the president has failed to appoint a substantive chief economic adviser to advice and oversee his economic policies as well as formally constitute his economic team, which is expected to meet periodically to steer the drifting nation’s economy back to prosperity.
It would be recalled that since the President received approval from the Senate to appoint 15 persons as special advisers some months back, he has only been known to have appointed five.
According to analysts, the country can ill-afford further delay by the President in making some of these vital appointments.
Those expected to make up the economic team include the ministers of finance, national planning, trade and industries, chief economic adviser and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, and others.
However, Business Hallmark gathered that since an economic team is not formally in place, the ministers as well as other individuals supposed to be on the team have been working on their own and perhaps at cross-purposes.
“They are supposed to be meeting with the president at least twice a month to harmonise economic policies, but since the team has not been officially constituted, there has not been uniformity of purpose as each one of them work in isolation of the order.
“They can only come together on the invitation of the president to an emergency meeting, which I doubted has happened.
The non-appointment of a substantive chief economic adviser has not helped matters,” declared a director in the ministry of finance who did not want his identity disclosed.
Reacting to the development, the lawmaker representing Bayelsa East Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately constitute his economic team, in view of the state of Nigeria’s economy.
In the latest of his usual series of tweets on governance, the media entrepreneur insisted that Nigeria must find creative ways to drastically reduce recurrent expenditure if the country must grow.
Stressing that no country does well by spending too much on recurrent expenditure, he tweeted: “One thing the 20 largest economies of the world have in common is that they spend at least 50% on capital expenditure and little on recurrent.
A lecturer at the University of Ilorin, Dr. Bisi Oluborode, in his reaction, said that the president should know that the welfare and wellbeing of Nigerians is on the decline largely due to what his government has not done.
“What this government has not done so far is to clearly articulate an economic policy, but what the government has done so far is to make impulsive, ad-hoc pronouncements on the economy that has so far impoverished the people.
“In fact, up until now there is no economic management team in place to articulate and implement the economic agenda of this administration. Not only is there no coherent economic policy but, since May when this administration came to office, there has been no chief economic adviser to the president.
“The 7th Senate under David Mark had already approved 14 advisers for the president but so far only five have been appointed. Even a political adviser to the president has not been appointed at a time when there is need for serious political considerations for any policy pronouncements or key political appointments.
“The verdict out there in the public is that power is currently concentrated in very few hands and those few are not happy with opening the space for other capable hands to have access to the centre of power.
“There is economic paralysis, social inertia and political morass. This is something the president should immediately address. We cannot afford to go into 2016 with these anomalies”, he admonished.
All efforts to get the reaction of the government on the development proved abortive as the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and the Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity to the President, Mallam Garba Shehu, failed to reply their calls.
Also, a group, the Shadow Cabinet of Nigeria has called on the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and President Muhammadu Buhari to settle down to the real business of governance.
In a statement released by the group in Abuja, it stated that the ruling party and its elected officials need to stop acting like a group of people in a rudderless ship with a proclivity for post shifting.
The spokesperson of the group also added, “It is befuddling and the height of insensitivity, how an administration can be so imperceptive to the plight of the people it leads.
“There have been feelers from civil society organizations, technocrats, and critics alike, that the Nigerian economy is at the brink of an impending doom, yet no actionable masses-centric cause, public policy, or palliative have been provided.”
BY AYOOLA OLAOLUWA