It  Is Wrong To Say President Buhari Has No Economic  Team –  Adesina | Independent Newspapers Limited
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It  Is Wrong To Say President Buhari Has No Economic  Team –  Adesina

Posted: Nov 14, 2016 at 6:01 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity was a guest on Channelstv at the weekend where he spoke on the plans by the Presidency to re-present the $30b loan request to the National Assembly and other burning issues. TEMIDAYO AKINSUYI who monitored the session brings the excerpts:

Is the presidency going to re-present the loan request to the National Assembly?

Yes, it makes sense to re-present. You noticed that what the Senate said was that it needed more details about that bid for loan and it was not that it rejected it completely.  Now, if on the basis of that you do not re-present it, it does not show you as a serious government in the first place. This is not a flippant government and before it asks for that kind of loan, it did its homework properly and if the Senate said it needs more details, then more details will be provided and the bid will be re-presented.

Is the presidency embarrassed by that singular action of the National Assembly to throw that request back on the chest of the president and say ‘give us more details?’

It’s not about pride, it’s not about individuals; it is about our country. The presidency is out to serve the people. Those who are in the presidency are not serving themselves because if they were serving themselves,  we could be talking of embarrassment; but because the intention is to serve the people, embarrassment does not come in at all.

Some of the statements are that it was a shoddy job and this is not the first time we are hearing that about this government that National Assembly will say it is not impressed by the work done by the aides of the president. We heard that on the economy, 2015 budget, MTEF report and now on the loan request. Is that not an indictment on some of the people working for the president?

At best, that is just an opinion.  That is just the opinion of somebody in the Senate who spoke and he has a right to his opinion and it does not make it gospel. It does not mean that he is completely right but he has a right to his opinion.  We do not know at any particular time what is motivating that person to speak.

You will remember vividly that the crisis over the 2015 budget was not just an opinion. It was a very big issue and it has to do with the fact that first document was retrieved because it was not properly done. Is that an opinion?

At any given time there are undercurrents and unless you know what those undercurrents are, you may not have a complete picture of what is happening.  It’s the undercurrents that you need to understand and we may not be able to talk about those undercurrents right now.

You talked about undercurrents. A lot of people will understand that to mean the clash between the presidency and the legislature and that the presidency is not handling the politics side of business properly. What is your take on that?

I didn’t talk of any clash because when you say politics, yes I mean politics.  But what should be at play now is national interests, the interests of the Nigerian economy rather than politics.  I just think politics is coming into play rather than the interest of the country, the interest of the economy and the interest of the ordinary people.

You heard Professor Abubakar Momoh who said in practical terms, we do not have an Economic team. ..

I heard him and he has a right to his opinion. Before he walked out of the studio, he whispered to me  that ‘ I know what you will say because I’ve heard you say it several times that we have an Economic team’. Yes, I am saying it again. We have an Economic team. So, if he thinks there is no Economic team, it can only be his opinion because we know the Economic team that we have headed by a Vice- President (Prof. Yemi Osinbajo). Then we have the Finance Minister, we have the Minister of Budget and National Planning, we have a Central Bank governor in place, there is an Economic adviser to the president. We have different kinds of people at different levels.  We have a Trade and Investment minister.

We know all those who are in the Economic team but what Nigerians are pointing out is the competence of this people and is perhaps showing in some of the works and state of the economy. Do you agree with some Nigerians saying this team should have been disbanded now that we are in recession?

It’s a subjective thing. You can’t talk of competence when you have turbulence. It’s like when you are in an airplane and there is serious turbulence and you begin to say that it is the pilot that is not efficient.  You are not considering that maybe it is the weather that is playing up and the pilot needs to keep his head so that he could steer the aircraft through that turbulence.  So, it’s a similarity that we have in the economic form. Nigeria is going through troubled times and we need level-headed people who will steer us through that time.

Some people are advising the president to rejig his cabinet. Is there a possibility that this will happen any moment?

Let me refer you to the good book. It tells us that ‘Who are you to judge another man’s servant? It is before his master that he either rises or falls’.  The president assembled that cabinet. He has timelines and deliverables for them.  So, he is the one who can judge and assess them.  If he is going to rejig that cabinet, it is going to be his decision; it is going to be his prerogative.

When will the 2017 budget be presented to the National Assembly?

But you also agree that we are recording better timing.  It was to have come October 31 but it will come as soon as possible.

On the issue of money recovered, your government has said it has recovered billions of naira from Nigerians. Nigerians want to know how much do we have at the moment and why are we talking of borrowing when we have the recovered funds?

What figure were we given? N87b and $300m. That is the figure that came through the Minister of Information in June. Now, what does that amount to? It was said that the Minister will continuously update that figure but the figure we have to work with now is N87b and $300m and we know that that is just a drop in the ocean.