Business Hilights
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Complication as Buhari squeezes in N’ East data collection to EAC terms

Fresh mandate tactically brought by President Muhammadu Buhari to the original terms and reference of the members of Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC) during their inauguration, has created disquiet amongst development economists and public affairs analysts.

President Buhari, who on Wednesday at State house in Abuja administered oaths of office on members of Council restated the original agenda and included fresh mandate to focus on primary data collection.

He detailed the Council to gather development data, saying “As you develop your baseline study, I would like you to focus on primary data collection.”

“Today, most of the statistics quoted about Nigeria are developed abroad 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.

President Buhari noted that “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.

Continuing, he recalled that “Our programs covered the entire agricultural value chain from seed to fertiliser to grains and ultimately, our dishes.

President Buhari revealed that “The absence of reliable data is hindering our ability to upgrade these programmes and assure their sustainability.”

Reviewing the new mandate, a Development Economist, Dr Kinsley Obaro told Business Hilights on phone that “Smuggling in data collection to the PEAC agenda would not work because data collection is not a process you can carry out in hurry.”

“However, the team needs a reliable data to work effective, but if you critically look at the president’s brief, it means that the team may have no authoritative data to work on now.

“It also goes to reveal that majority of government agencies entrusted with gathering development data are not doing their jobs.

Dr Obaro argued that if the agencies, relevant departments and even ministries who are in charge of gathering and storing development data have done their work very well, I don’t think that President Buhari will point that out.

According to him, credible national planning data stems from a national population census which had not been done since 2016. He recalled that the very last census in Nigeria was in 2006 and it has been due since 2016, but the Federal Government lacked the political will to execute it.

Buhari Yemi 99
President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice, Prof Yemi Osinbajo conferring on how to respond to issues at the 2019 Presidential Debate

Also speaking, another data analysis expert, Mrs Wunmi Adejinka said “Mandating such a high calibre grade of intellectuals and experts to be gathering data instead of giving them data means that the government does not just have a credible development data, but have been doing a lot of things without a credible data.”

“To me, the latest job of the Council will frustrate them because they cannot just begin to harvest development data like that. Such data collection demands special professionals, strategic infrastructure, systems and take time gather, decipher to get a credible final report and statistics.

“I dint think the Council can do that job.

Business Hilights recalls that PEAC replaced the Economic Management Team (EMT) headed by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo.

The key functions of the PEAC headed by Prof Doyin Salami include 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.

Prof. Salami is a former member of the monetary policy committee of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), is a senior lecturer at the Lagos Business School (LBS).

Other members of the eight-man committee include Alhaji Mohammed Sagagi, who is to serve as the vice-chairman, Ode Ojowu, Shehu Yahaya, Iyabo Masha, Former CBN Governor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, Chief Executive of Financial Derivatives Group, Mr Bismark Rewane, and Mohammed Adaya Salisu, who is to serve as secretary and even though he is currently a Senior Special Assistant to the President on Development Policy.