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How Buhari inspires Osinbajo- Laolu Akande, VP’s spokesman

Though it is not known to many Nigerians, the Office of he Vice President is actually saddled with the task of providing the economic roadmaps in conjunction with relevant bodies for the president’s approval. And so, the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo wouldn’t stop at nothing to help his principal, 

President Muhammadu Buhari succeed in putting the country on a sound pedestal. For one year now, both men have come to appreciate their passion for the country and Osinbajo’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity,

 Mr. Laolu Akande who follows and greatly understands the passion of these two leaders shares with select few Newspapers a vivid insider’s account of what the Economic Team located in the Vice President’s office has been doing, the gains of the Social Welfare Scheme of the government amongst other things. Vanguard was there.


The Vice President is doing a lot on the economy and apparently, the impact of this administration’s Economic Management Team has not been felt on the nation’s economy, one year after. What will you tell Nigerians?

think the Economic Management Team started taking shape after ministers were inaugurated. That means it is not up to a year. 

That was probably October or November 2015 or thereabout. We have to understand that the attitude of this Presidency is to consider the management of the economy as a government responsibility.

 It is not something that this government believes should be done by bringing in some of the private interests into the economic team to take a decision that they will be directly involved with. So our stand is that the management of the economy is a government responsibility and we engage the stakeholders in the economy. For instance, 

we have started meeting on constant basis with Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN. There have been meetings with arms of the economic sector of the country.

 There have been meetings with the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, NESG and some other economic interests with companies making presentations. 

But generally, this is a government team and the team has been able to set out before the budget trying to figure out what the budget ought to focus on. After the budget was presented and eventually signed, there was also the publication of the strategic implementation plan which was produced in a reader friendly format. All of these are the outcomes of what Economic Management Team does and it is also in the team that you have the heap of the whole physical and monetary policy and don’t forget that the monetary policy is always the duty and responsibility of the Central Bank which is an economic arm of government. At times, more than once in a week, almost certainly most of the time, 

the team meets every Monday and make proposal and suggestions to the President but then, the team is actually like an adhoc committee of the Federal Executive Council and that is why we don’t throw a lot of media around it because it is a committee that is meant to advise Mr. President. So the team, for instance, defined six themes around the economy and used that to build the budget and reflate the economy. The first is Policy, Governance and Security which includes issues such as ensuring a stable and predictable currency exchange rate and securing the nation among others.

 The second one is Economic Diversification which includes achieving targeted self sufficiency in agriculture produce and increasing private sector investments. 

The third is infrastructural development which includes the completion of several NIPPs, the Lagos -Calabar coastal railway among others. Oil and gas reforms is the fourth one and it includes privatisation of refineries, PIB, ensuring gas availability to power the plants.

 The Ease of Doing Business is the fifth one. In this regard, the President has constituted a Presidential Council headed by the VP to look at fast tracking Pre-investment approvals across the country, eliminate bureaucratic delays and so on. 

The last one is the social investment meant to assuage unemployment pains, development of human capacity and improve school enrollment

Nigerians are saying that the economy right now is not in a good shape. How do you tell them that the government is working towards ensuring that the economy bounces back?

As much as we try not to say this, we know as a matter of fact that members of the past administration, most of them have come out to say they did not save for the rainy day. So we are dealing mostly with situations that have been caused even before this administration took over power. 

The President and his team have worked hard and planned not only to save cost, not only to tighten public expenditure but to also diversify the economy like never before. So we are sure and we believe that going forward, things will begin to pick up again.

 It is taking a while because of the extent of the damage. If the country took a sharp drop as much as 70 percent drop in its foreign earning, you can begin to understand some of the difficulties that the country is going through where States used to share a huge sum of money which have come down incredibly. 

For instance, I believe in April I think the whole foreign earning was just about $550m which is low. So these are the problems and a lot of what is happening right now in the country is as a result of some of the decisions that were taken in the past but the administration has clearly changed the direction of this country and going forward we expect better things.

This is the second year of the administration and the same song of what the past government did or didn’t do is still responsible for where we are. When would Nigerians expect the first fruit of this administration?

The first fruit is already in place because we have started rebuilding. I think to some extent, that question presupposes that building is still continuing, no!   I believe that a huge factor in the way Nigeria is today economically is corruption. We can’t run away from that and the President has made it clear and I think everyone in the country now understands that and it is not going to continue. Effectively, 

he has reduced the corruption in Nigeria. Look at the TSA, for instance, which has managed to save over N3trn that would have been lost if we didn’t have the TSA implemented. I think he tried to cut cost with many ghost workers in the federal payroll detected and I understand that the process is continuing. 

So one of the things that the President has delivered is that the bleeding has stopped and that is so important.
The constitution requires that whatever is made is deposited into the Federation’s Account in which case, you can’t keep aside any money. So how can this government accuse past government of not saving?

The constitution requires that whatever is made is deposited into the Federation’s Account in which case, you can’t keep aside any money. So how can this government accuse past government of not saving?

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