By Chinelo Obogo
Former minister of education, Oby Ezekwesili, has debunked claims by the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, that he was the head of the economic management team when he was the Vice President.
Tweeting from his official handle, Atiku said: “As Head of the Economic Management Team while I was Vice President, I was instrumental in designing a private sector revival strategy and advocated for the opening of the economy for private sector investments in several sectors. And we made tremendous progress.”
But Ezekwesili responded saying that he was never the head of the Head of the Economic Management Team, describing his claims as an absurd lie does him no good at all.
Responding to Ezekwesili, Atiku’s media aide, Paul Ibe, said: “Dear @obyezeks, I know it’s political season and people resort to all sorts of antics in support of their preferred candidates. But some things should be considered too low. It is established history that Atiku as Chairman, National Economic Council headed the nation’s Economic Management Team between 1999-2007, during which Nigeria had some of her best economic growth.
“In trying – and failing – to weaken his standing in public, let us not resort to this sort of jaded ‘aproko’ pettiness. If Atiku wasn’t head of the Economic Management Team as VP, so who was? You? This matter is a constitutional provision and you will do well either to burry your ignorance or advertise your apparent mischief. Enjoy the rest of your day but not in a bliss of ignorance, madam.”
But she doubled down on her claims, insisting that the former VP was the head of the National Economic Council which is different from the Economic Management Team headed by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
She said: “There is a difference between the Economic Management Team set up for the first time ever in 2003 by former President Olusegun Obasanjo and the National Economic Council established by the 1999 Constitution as amended; Section 153(1) and Paragraphs 18 & 19 of Part I of the Third Schedule.
“The Presidential Economic Management Team (we called it “The Economic Team” for brevity) was a Technical Team of 12 persons from a range of expertise whom President Obasanjo constituted to drive Nigeria’s Economic Reform Agenda during his second term in office 2003-2007. In constituting the Economic Team, we designed it at two levels of leadership: 1. Political Leadership: The President Olusegun Obasanjo and 2. Technical leadership: The Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
“There is no sincere basis for confusing the work of the Presidential Economic Management Team that I described in the previous tweets with the National Economic Council, provided for in the Constitution and chaired by a Vice President. The functions are not the same at all. None.”
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