09 July 2016, Lagos — The Presidency has denied any secret recruitment of children and cronies of government functionaries at the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS and other juicy agencies and parastatals of government, saying that the reports about such exercise were “inaccurate”.
The presidency also explained the reason behind the exclusion of the private sector in the current Economic Management Team headed by the Vice President Yemi Osinabjo as was hitherto the case.
Recall that the media especially the online platforms had been awash with reports that the cronies of officials of the present government including President Muhammadu Buhari and his vice, Osinabjo had been secretly employed by many lucrative agencies of government without due process, thereby causing palpitations in many quarters of the society.
But speaking in an interview with select Journalists in Abuja, the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President, Mr. Laolu Akande refuted the claims, describing them as inaccurate.
He rather stated that the government was sanitizing the recruitment process and indeed, the public service systems to make them more transparent.
“These reports are inaccurate. What we heard is that government is working to ensure that we develop going forward in more transparent process. We are committed in going forward to ensure that some of these procedures are refined, fine-tuned and made to become more transparent,” he said.
On the economic team, Akande said that it was government responsibility to take on the economy.
“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,” he added.
The media aide however explained that the private sector was not totally excluded as other stakeholders such as the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN and the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, NESG, had also been engaged by the government.
“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 thing 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,” he said.
Asked when the nation would begin to feel the impact of the economic team and indeed the first fruit of the regime, Akande said that the government of president Buhari was committed to charting a new way forward for the country.
In any case, the presidential spokesperson said that the drastic reduction of corruption within the public circles was a laudable feat of the administration.
“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.
“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! The rebuilding of the resources of this country that had stopped. 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”, he said.
Speaking on the delays encountered in the early implementation of the social welfare packages for the unemployed graduates, Akande attributed that to the late passage of the 2016 budget into law.
“You have to agree that we do have some delay in the whole process because of the timing of the budget approval. For instance, when we came in at the end of May, there was no way the government could implement some of those social welfare schemes because it was not budgeted for.
“So we had to wait for the budget process to kick in so that we can begin to put our ideas forward which was done and since the budget has been signed now, we are taking off”, he said.
*Levinus Nwabughiogu – Vanguard