Former Education Minister, Obiageli Ezekwesili, has publicly rebuked the presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar, over false claims that he led the Economic Management Team in the Obasanjo-administration where he served as Vice President.
Ezekwesili, who also served in the administration and was indeed a member of the Economic Management Team, explained that the former Vice President played no role in the team and could not advertise its success, particularly economic reforms, as evidence of his administrative competence.
She was responding to a tweet by the PDP candidate where he claimed to be “instrumental in designing a private sector revival strategy advocated for the opening of the economy for private sector investments in several sectors” as the head of the economic management team.
With the tweet, Atiku tried to exaggerate his role in an administration in which he suffered alienation due to a political conflict with his boss and president, Olusegun Obasanjo, who later accused him of mindless corruption and theft of public resources.
He was also hoping to answer growing questions and doubts about his fitness to lead the country, despite lacking executive leadership experience. Unlike other candidates in the race with governance achievements of their own to boast, Atiku’s sole administrative stint as a deputy – in which he enjoyed delegated powers – means that he cannot do the same.
But Ezekwesili was not going to let the PDP candidate shore up his dented image with achievements he played no role in. She countered with a tweet urging the former vice president to “please ask the handlers of your Twitter account to stop misleading the public. You were never the Head of the Economic Management Team. This absurd Lie does you no good at all. Please ask your Team to stop it.”
She went on to explain that although Atiku did chair the National Economic Council as mandated by the constitution, it was a separate body from the Economic Management Team which was led at the time by President Obasanjo and Ngozi Okonjo Iweala.
“There is a difference between the Economic Management Team set up for the 1st time ever in 2003 by President 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 2nd Term in office 2003-2007.”