Non-existing office spends N80 million to promote Tinubu’s ‘economic milestones’

The non-existing “Office of the Chief Economic Adviser to the President” is spending N80 million on research and development to promote Mr Bola Tinubu’s anticipated economic achievements.

Tagged “research and development on economic milestone of Mr. President’s administration,” the office is planning to waste public funds on trumpeting the achievements of Mr Tinubu amid economic hardship facing Nigerians.

The office is also spending N12 million as part payment for 20 laptop computers, Economy Post found in the 2024 budget.

Incidentally, there is currently no one in Mr Tinubu’s administration who bears that position. Mr Tope Fasua is his special adviser on economic affairs in the office of the vice-president.

READ ALSO: Netizens discuss Economy Post story on Akpabio’s constituency getting most projects from agric ministry

Mr Tinubu is retaining the office of the chief economic adviser to the president like his predecessor, Mr Muhammadu Buhari, who allocated public funds to the non-existing office for 7 years. Mr Buhari only appointed Dr Doyin Salami to occupy that office on January 4, 2022.

Poor economy

Currently, there is little to cheer on economic front under Mr Tinubu. Though the naira is gradually strengthening against the dollar in the foreign exchange market, all is not yet well on the monetary side of the economy.

Investors have waited patiently for some stability in the foreign exchange market, but that has eluded them.

Inflation rose to 31.70 percent in February 2024 from 29.90 percent in the previous month, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

This is a significant increase from 22.79 percent inflation rate reported in June 2023 – one month after Mr Tinubu became president.

READ ALSO: Forget partisan politics, Nigeria’s 2024 budget is inflated, full of ambiguities

Worse still, food inflation rate in February 2024 quickened to 37.92 percent in February 2024 as against 25.09 percent in June 2023. This implies that the poor are struggling to buy food as bread prices have risen by over 100 percent in 12 months.

Low activities on fiscal side

It seems that only very little is happening on the fiscal side of the economy led by Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Mr Wale Edun.

Protests against hunger have spread across Nigeria as the cost of living crisis worsens in Africa’s most populous nation.

Several farmers have been sacked by hoodlums and terrorists across the country, Farmers say there is little support to enhance farm output, with input prices rising significantly.

“We are not getting any support from the government. The Anchor Borrowers Scheme is no longer working and farmers are now stranded,” an Abakiliki rice farmer, Mr Emeka Nnabuenyi, told Economy Post.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), on January 9, 2024, suspended new applications for the Anchor Borrowers Program (ABP) and Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) among other development financing schemes. It is yet to initiate a new model for the financing of agriculture.

READ ALSO: Ten months after grabbing power, Tinubu wobbles on security, leaves economy in tatters

In terms of imports, the CBN has adjusted exchange rate for items from N422.30 to N1,418 since Mr Tinubu came to power on May 29, 2023. Prices of cars have risen by 50-100 percent in a lot of cases since Mr Tinubu came to power.

Also, manufacturers are hard hit by lack of policy support, poor power supply, foreign exchange crunch and poor infrastructure.

In 2023, no fewer than 767 manufacturing companies shut down owing to the government’s lack of support as well as emerging local and global realities.

“In year 2023, 335 manufacturing companies became distressed and 767 shut down,” the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) said in a March 5, 2024 statement sent to Economy Post.

“The capacity utilization in the sector has declined to 56 percent; interest rate is effectively above 30 percent; foreign exchange to import raw materials and production machine inventory of unsold finished products has increased to N350 billion and the real growth has dropped to 2.4 percent,” MAN further said.

Ports are still an issue with officials still inspecting containers manually.

Stop funding unnecessary offices

A Nigerian economics lecturer, Mr Tobias Etilokwu, said Mr Tinubu must “immediately provide some form of subsidies to farmers and suspend the dollar float to arrest the weakening state of the naira.”

READ ALSO: International firms exit Nigeria leaving oil communities worse off

Mr Etilokwu said it was a total waste of funds and amounted to corruption for the government to fund a non-existing office or dedicate N80 million for “a meaningless research.”

“People are hungry,” he said. “The best thing politicians can do for Nigerians is to cut costs and stop funding non-existing offices. Office of special adviser on economy is different from a chief economist, and that should be clear for all to see,” he added.

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