• Saturday, May 18, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Still on the importance of the Office of the Chief Economic Adviser to the President

Still on the importance of the Office of the Chief Economic Adviser to the President

This piece revisits the initial write-up in January 2022, which argues that the Office of the Chief Economic Adviser to the President (OCEAP) is important and strategic. This is because the success or otherwise of the government’s economic policies depends mainly on the efficiency of the Chief Economic Adviser.

Economic success by way of growing the gross domestic product and improving the welfare of the citizens is a cardinal goal of any administration. It is also a constitutional mandate, as s. 14(2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution provides that the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.

The wellbeing of the populace is thus contingent on how the government is able to facilitate inclusive economic growth and development.

Concerning security, it is known that strife, conflicts, and other forms of criminality are partly due to the economic deprivation of the poor and middle class on the one hand and the struggle for economic power amongst the upper class on the other.

There is also the aspect of food security, which is a function of the government’s policy direction, especially in agriculture. In all these, the Chief Economic Adviser to the President performs a very important role.

In March 2024, President Tinubu established a 31-member Presidential Economic Coordination Council (PECC), headed by himself and comprising notable names in the public and private sectors. The Economic Adviser is expected to be very active in ensuring that the President is adequately briefed on relevant economic matters as head of the PECC.

To perform this and other assignments effectively, the OCEAP needs to be adequately funded. Successive governments, through the Ministry of Finance and the Budget Office of the Federation (BOF), have continued to allocate meagre budgets to the OCEAP.

In the 2024 budgetary allocations to the Presidency, a total of N76.2 million was provided as overhead and N139.7 million as capital for the OCEAP. While this is an improvement from the previous years, it is still relatively inadequate when compared with other advisory offices in the Presidency. Realistic economic advice requires continuous policy-oriented research that offers the basis for guiding the president. This is particularly important given the current economic challenges facing the country.

To guide President Tinubu’s efforts to achieve the goals of his eight priority areas of food security, ending poverty, economic growth and job creation, access to capital, improving security, improving ease of doing business, upholding the upholding the rule of law, and fighting corruption, the OCEAP deserves to be properly funded. It is not clear if there are interventions or donor funds or grants that the office benefits from, but it is vital that prospective budgets are improved upon to enable it to execute its research activities, as this is central to the success of the OCEAP.

Typically, once appointed, the Chief Economic Adviser constitutes a team of exceptional and trusted research assistants who he or she depends on to carry out his or her assignment.

The research assistants are usually extraordinary economists who are selected based on excellence and outstanding achievements. Based on the trend of budgetary allocations to the OCEAP, working optimally to provide the President with much-needed economic information and guidance will be an uphill task. The great Winston Churchill once said, Give us the tools, and we will do the job. It is therefore imperative that the BOF consider improving the allocations to the OCEAP in future budgets.

Dr Ekor wrote from Abuja