Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, inaugurated the Economic Advisory Council (EAC) with a charge to them to coordinate and synthesis ideas and efforts to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.
He charged the eight-member team to work in collaboration with various employment generating agencies of government to achieve the feat.
“Your task cannot be more important. Our goal is to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years,” he said.
“We must move forward with the home-grown solutions suitable to our local contexts. Our efforts must be both suitable and sustainable. I look forward to receiving your baseline studies as this will help shape our economic efforts.
“All key MDAs will be available to meet with you and discuss how we can create a Nigeria that works for all.”
He added: “I am told you worked throughout last weekend in preparation for this meeting. I have listened attentively to findings and ideas on how to move the country and the economy forward.
“Yes, Nigeria has exited the recession. But our reported growth rate is still not fast enough to create the jobs we need to meet our national ambition of collective prosperity. Reason being we had to tread carefully in view of the mess we inherited.
“Many of the ideas we developed in the last four years were targeted at returning Nigeria back to the path of growth.
“I am sure you will also appreciate that during that time, our country was also facing serious challenges, especially in the areas of insecurity and massive corruption.
“Therefore, I will be the first to admit that our plans were conservative. We had to avoid reckless and not well thought out policies.
“However, it was very clear to me after we exited the recession that we needed to re-energise our economic growth plans. This is what I expect from you,” he said.
He also charged the eight-man team, chaired by Prof. Doyin Salami, to focus on developing reliable data that will properly reflect what is happening in the country.
According to him, most of the statistics quoted about Nigeria were developed by the World Bank, IMF and other foreign bodies…
“Some of the statistics we get relating to Nigeria are wild estimates and bear little relation to the facts on the ground.
“This is disturbing as it implies we are not fully aware of what is happening in our own country.
“We can only plan realistically when we have reliable data. As you are aware, as a government, we prioritised agriculture as a critical sector to create jobs and bring prosperity to our rural communities.
“Our programmes covered the entire agricultural value chain from seed to fertiliser to grains and ultimately, our dishes.
“As you travel in some rural communities, you can clearly see the impact. However, the absence of reliable data is hindering our ability to upgrade these programmes and assure their sustainability.”
On the Social Investment Programmes (SIPs), he told members that his administration was working to measure the impact of the programme targeted at improving the well-being of millions of poor and vulnerable citizens.
As such, he said he had directed the Minister for Humanitarian Affairs to commence a comprehensive data-gathering exercise in all Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in the North East.
Buhari had on September 16 constituted an eight-man PEAC, chaired by Prof. Doyin Salami, which replaced the Economic Management Team (EMT) led by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, with an order to report directly to him.
It is expected to 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.