The National Economic Council, chaired by the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, has failed to meet for three consecutive months.
This is despite the conclusion of the All Progressives Congress presidential primary election that saw the emergence of former Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu, as the candidate.
NEC was established by the provisions of section 153(1) and Paragraphs 18 & 19 of part I of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). Its membership comprises the 36 state governors, the Governor of the Central Bank and other co-opted government officials.
Chaired by the Vice President, NEC meets monthly to execute its mandate of “advising the President concerning the economic affairs of the Federation, and in particular on measures necessary for the coordination of the economic planning efforts or economic programmes of the various Governments of the Federation.”
Investigations revealed that March was the last time the council met.
A source confirmed to our correspondent that, “Yes, there have been no meetings for two months now. Also, there was no official communication to members that the meeting won’t be held in the coming months.
“I believe everyone understands that this is an election season and they all moved on with their political activities.”
*Politics affecting governance*
Speaking to our correspondent on Thursday, the Executive Director of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, Auwal Rafsanjani, lamented that politics has taken precedence over governance.
According to him, such a crucial body that oversees the economy of the nation should not be at the mercy of a political season.
He said, “It’s very clear that politics is placed above the economic management of the country. That is why such an important activity can be abandoned for three months despite the economic crisis that the country is facing.
“Only yesterday, the acting Accountant-General of the Federation confirmed to the nation that they had to borrow money, not only to finance subsidy, but to pay salaries. This is the crisis that we find ourselves in and yet billions are being stolen.
“We are seeing the consequences in inflation, lesser availability of jobs because many factories are closing down and leaving the country and insecurity has also heightened this by not allowing new investors to come and invest in Nigeria as their safety is not guaranteed and their money is not protected.”
Rafsanjani argued that the economic management team should be able to step in temporarily so that crucial functions can continue “whether the Vice President or members of the council are available or not.”
Meanwhile, the National Coordinator of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, Emmanuel Onwubiko, blamed all members of the council, including the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, whom he accused of dabbling into party politics despite being the country’s chief economic officer.
He said, “It is quite sad that such an important council, almost as important as the Security Council, meets just once in a month. The National Economic Council is supposed to be meeting every other week.
“The Vice President has the right to run for the presidency. Nobody can begrudge him for that. But since he was going into campaign, he could have handed over to someone who can deputise for him. There has to be a deputy chairman in that council.
“It’s not the Vice President’s fault alone. Even the CBN governor was seeking to contest for the presidency when he ought not to be a member of any political party. INEC had to remove sensitive electoral materials from the CBN’s custody because the governor could not be trusted as non-partisan. Now that the primaries are over, why hasn’t the vice president called a meeting of that council?”
When conducted for his reaction on the issue, the Vice President’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, did not respond to messages from our correspondent.