The numerous economy advisers and ministers in Abuja are working under a new order now that President Muhammadu Buhari’s gatekeeper, Chief of Staff Abba Kyari, has died of COVID-19. Kyari’s influence unofficially yet effectively extended to the economy and matters concerning the oil and gas sector, in addition to the political and security realms. His departure will change the dynamics of policy making and implementation. There are now four overlapping power centres:
- Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor Godwin Emefiele continues to issue policy pronouncements and directives reaching into the macro-economy, far beyond the traditional regulator’s remit.
- Finance and National Planning Minister Zainab Ahmed leads plans for additional borrowing and negotiations with international creditors. The Debt Management Office (DMO) has confirmed the rising debt and debt service burden.
- The Presidential Economic Advisory Council (EAC), led by Doyin Salami, is increasingly at odds with the CBN. The committee includes Deputy Petroleum Minister Timpre Sylva, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s (NNPC) Group Managing Director Mele Kyari, and Finance Minister Ahmed.
- Vice President Yemi Osinbajo returns to the fray at the helm of the newly established Economic Sustainability Committee (ESC), created specifically to respond to the coronavirus threat.
Osinbajo’s new committee adds to the already crowded space of economic advisers. Besides Ahmed, Sylva, Kyari, and Emefiele, the membership includes the following:
- Labour and Employment Minister Chris Ngige
- Industry, Trade, and Investment Minister Niyi Adebayo
- Humanitarian Affairs Minister Sadiya Farouq
- Works and Housing Minister Babatunde Fashola.
Its broad composition suggests that President Buhari plans to take an inclusive approach to developing an economic sustainability plan to steer Nigeria until 2023. It also signals the return of Osinbajo to the centre stage of economic policy after his previous economic planning role was downgraded.