• Monday, July 15, 2024
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Economic recovery: Nigerians waiting on Tinubu’s ‘wise men’

President Bola Tinubu inaugurated a Tripartite Economic Advisory Committee on Sunday, February 25, 2024, an effort to address the economic challenges facing Nigeria.

Comprising eminent figures from various sectors, including Aliko Dangote, Tony Elumelu, and other influential players, the committee aims to formulate a comprehensive policy framework to revitalise the Africa’s largest economy.

President Tinubu, during the meeting held with these captains of industry and others, emphasised the importance of seeking solutions to the myriad economic issues and expressed his commitment to implementing measures that would benefit all Nigerians.

“We are looking for additional efforts that might help the downtrodden Nigerians and provide hope and reassurance that economic recovery is on its way. We assure Nigerians that we will do our best to get our Marshall plan in place and fashion out the best economic future for this country,” President Tinubu said in his address.

Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man, spoke to State House Journalists after the meeting, describing it as “open, frank, and exhaustive.”

“We discussed everything in detail. The Economic Presidential Advisory Committee has been set up, and I think this will look at all the issues and address them, coming from job creation, food security, and economic reflection,” Dangote said. He also highlighted the committee’s focus on addressing the artificial and manipulative nature of the foreign exchange rate, expressing optimism about positive changes.

Similarly, Tony Elumelu expressed enthusiasm and optimism about the future of Nigeria. “Implementing the decisions we arrived at today will propel our economy and help alleviate poverty, create employment, and put food on the table,” he remarked.

Governors who attended the meeting, including Charles Soludo of Anambra State and Dapo Abiodun, affirmed their commitment to collaborating with the federal government. Soludo emphasized the unity of purpose and determination among the 225 million Nigerians to overcome economic challenges.

Addressing press men after the meeting, Governor Abiodun assured the public that state governments would work alongside the President to provide necessary interventions. He mentioned initiatives such as selling essential goods at pre-devaluation prices to alleviate the immediate impact on the public.

Similarly, Segun Ajayi-Kadir, the Director-General of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, highlighted the private sector’s role in creating a conducive business environment. He expressed confidence that the committee’s decisions would lead to significant changes in addressing challenges such as foreign exchange, insecurity, and the general operating environment.

Diverse perspectives on President Tinubu’s new economic advisory committee

Continuing the dialogue on the tripartite economic advisory committee, Oseni Rufai from Arise TV delved deeper sharing his perspective. He questioned the timing of the committee’s formation and its composition, saying “Why is this coming after about eight months? And there were very more people that some expected to be there, but I think it was generally representative; the private sector was heavily represented, MAN was represented there. Still, someone would have wanted to see representation from farmers, although the Dangote Group and BUA do play significant roles in the farming sector.”

In offering solutions to address Nigeria’s economic challenges, Rufai laid emphasis on the need for strategic initiatives. He said, “For me, the things that will stimulate this economy will be: Number one, following through on that presidential initiative of CNG to have multiple energy sources for the country, not just over-dependence on petrol. Number two, stimulating manufacturing in the economy and bringing about productivity. Three will be dealing with the Forex crisis that we’re having, which CBN has started, but we need more fundamentals to defend.”

On his part, Nigerian journalist Reuben Abati, during a broadcast on Arise TV’s Morning Show, provided a critical assessment of the government’s policy-making process. He highlighted the importance of a well-ordered approach, stating, “There’s something in the English language called putting the cart before the horse, and it appears that the Tinubu administration, in terms of policy-making process, put the cart before the horse. It simply means, in basic English, that when you do the right things in the wrong order.”

Continuing, Abati questioned the absence of a chief economic advisor and potential conflicts with existing economic committees, saying, “This Tinubu Administration has not yet appointed a chief economic adviser who can interface among the various persons on the monetary side and the fiscal side and also offer advice to the president. I think it is about time that this government appointed a chief economic adviser.”

Adding a cautionary note, he asserted, “There’s a lot of opportunism in corporate Nigeria. There isn’t enough time for me to talk about the opportunism of corporate Nigeria in terms of access to the corridors of power.” Abati’s remarks highlighted the potential pitfalls in relying on corporate entities for economic advice and the need for caution in navigating the complex relationship between the private sector and government.

Expanding on the theme of corporate influence, Abati stressed the necessity for the advisory committee members to present hard truths rather than solely focusing on their own interests. He noted, “It is for the members of the advisory committee to use the opportunity to present the hard truths and not just behave like ‘we are also there, they have recognized us, what are the opportunities’ because part of the problem with Nigeria is Corporate Nigeria.”

Ayo Mairo-Ese, an advocate for women’s empowerment, reinforced the importance of diverse representation in economic decision-making.

She observed, “When President Tinubu was coming into power, he had talked about having an inclusive government. It means that at all levels of decision-making, it must be part of his strategy and agenda.”

Mairo-Ese highlighted the need for gender equity and balanced representation in committees like this, stating, “For instance, at that meeting, I would have liked to see more representation in terms of gender equity and gender balance. Women are disproportionately affected by economic shocks, and when we have conversations like this, they must be well represented at the table.”

Also contributing, Efriye Bribena, CEO at TAMIEF International Limited, who expressed concerns about the character and business practices of committee members, urging a focus on national interests.

He said “Appointing entrepreneurs from the private sector into the Economic advisory committee is a good step but the character of those appointed matters.”

“It is their character and business practice that will determine whether they will work in the interest of Nigeria or their business,” he continued. “The antecedence of some of the names mentioned does not give confidence that they will work for the national interest.”

Similarly, Kola Adesina, a Nigerian entrepreneur, underscored the necessity for a unified approach involving the government, regions, and the private sector to achieve sustainable economic growth. “Unity and collective effort are key to transforming our economy and ensuring prosperity for all Nigerians,” he said.

As Nigeria grapples with economic challenges, the Tripartite Economic Advisory Committee holds the promise of collaborative efforts and strategic solutions to lead the nation towards recovery and prosperity. The effectiveness of its recommendations and the speed of their implementation will be closely watched by a hopeful nation.

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