Nigeria’s new economic advisory council signals hope for the economy

The president of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari this week constituted an Economic Advisory Council (EAC) replacing the Economic Mangement Team which was being handled by the Vice President Prof Yemi Osibanjo. This will be the first time since 1999, the return of Democracy, that the National Economic Council will be chaired by another person other than the vice president.

“The Economic Advisory Council (EAC) will advise the President on economic policy matters, including fiscal analysis, economic growth and a range of internal and global economic issues working with the relevant cabinet members and heads of monetary and fiscal agencies,” a statement from the presidency signed by Presidential spokesperson, Femi Adesina read.

“The EAC will have monthly technical sessions as well as scheduled quarterly meetings with the President. The Chairman may, however, request for unscheduled meetings if the need arises.

This appointment of economic gurus has been received with so much joy from Nigerian who have always prayed for Nigeria to have an A-team of people grounded in economic affairs at the forefront.  This comes at a time when Nigeria is in dire need of an economic turnaround. The experts are also expected to review some of the current policies of the government.

Thankfully the experts will not have to go through the bureaucracy of government and political interference since they report directly  to the president. The appointment of these gurus is just like asking them to come and work their talk after being serious critics of Buhari’s administration. Although some Nigerians are also sceptical about president Buhari listening to them. There is also a concern over clashing of ideas of the members of the team since they have in the past recorded different ideas on same issue.

Below is a brief profile of the A-team members of the EAC

1. Prof. Doyin Salami – Chairman

Proior to his appointment, he was a senior lecturer at Lagos Business School where he  teaches on the economic environment of business. He obtained his doctoral degree from Queen Mary College, University of London. He was a member of the Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Federal Government’s Economic Management Team.  He was also the vice chairman of the transition committee from the Goodluck Jonathan administration in 2015 

2. Dr. Mohammed Sagagi – Vice-Chairman

Dr Sagagi serves as Political Economy and Government Relations Adviser at a DFID-funded Programme on Skills Development and Entrepreneurship (Mafita) in Northern Nigeria. He is an Economist and Development Consultant with a strong academic background and extensive private sector experience in Nigeria.  

He bagged his B Sc. in Economics with First Class Hons. from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria in 1977. He has an M Sc. in Economics from the University of Warwick, Coventry, England (1981) and PhD (Economics) from University of Warwick, Coventry, England (1985) with a thesis on Commercial Policy and Industrialization in Nigeria.  He also has a Certificate Course in Making Markets Work for the Poor from Springfield Center, Durham UK. 

3. Prof. Ode Ojowu – Member

Prof Ojowu is a former Chief Executive of the National Planning Commission. He was also Chief Economic Adviser to Former President Olusegun Obasanjo between 2004 and 2005. He has held positions at the International Monetary Bank, the World Bank, and the United Nations Development Programme. He was a professor of economics at the University of Jos. In 2008 Ojowu was appointed the head of the governing council of the Benue State University.

4. Dr. Shehu Yahaya – Member

Prior to this appointment Dr Yahaya served as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Development Bank of Nigeria Plc (DBN) in March 2017 as the Bank’s Interim Managing Director. He was Executive Director at the African Development Bank and member, Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank of Nigeria. He also served as Deputy General Manager at Nigeria Export-Import Bank (NEXIM). He was a lecturer in Macroeconomics at the Department of Economics at the University of Sussex, UK and Head of Economics Department in Bayero University Kano, Nigeria.

5. Dr. Iyabo Masha – Member

Dr Masha is the only female on the team. She worked with the World Bank between 1997 and 1998 as well as the IRIS Center, the University of Maryland at College Park as a consultant. She also worked at Central Bank of Nigeria’s Research Department between 1998 and 2003. Since 2003 she has worked with the International Monetary on assignments in more than 10 emerging markets (Asian and African countries) focus on comprehensive economic management including (i) policy reform advisory services and dialogue with governments (ii) financing and lending programs; (iii) analytic research and economic modelling and forecasting. She is the immediate past IMF Representative for Sierra Leone.

6. Prof. Chukwuma Soludo – Member

Prof Soludo was the former CBN governor. He is a graduate of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he graduated with a first-class degree in Economics. He also undertook his postgraduate and doctorate degrees in Economics from the same University winning on both occasions, the prize for the best graduating student.

He has about four years of post-doctoral training in some of the world’s most prestigious institutions, including: The Brookings Institution, Washington, DC; University of Cambridge, UK, as Smuts Research Fellow and Fellow of the Wolfson College; the UN Economic Commission for Africa as a Post-Doctoral Fellow; University of Warwick as a Visiting Scholar and Visiting Research Scholar at Center for African Economies, University of Oxford (with funding by the Rhodes committee).  

7. Mr. Bismark Rewane – Member

Rewane is a graduate of the University of Ibadan with a Bachelors and Honours degree in Economics. He worked with International Merchant Bank Nigeria Limited  between 1981 and 1989 where he held several positions. He also worked with the First National Bank of Chicago, Barclays Bank of Nigeria and Barclays Bank International, United Kingdom.  Rewane has served on the board of several organisations, including Navgas (a Vitol Group subsidiary), NLNG Prize Award Foundation, UNIC Insurance Plc, Nigeria Economic Summit Group, UBA Custodian Limited, Virgin Nigeria Airways Limited, Fidelity Bank Plc, First City Monument Bank Plc and Top Feeds Nigeria Limited. He is a non-executive director on the board of  Guinness Nigeria. 

He is an Associate of the Institute of Bankers, England and Wales and and a Fellow of The Nigerian Institute of Bankers. Prior to his appointment Rewane was the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Financial Derivatives Company Limited in Lagos.