June 25, 2024

The impact of the exit of NEIC (6), by Eric Teniola

Who else but Professor Benjamin Nwabueze (2), by Eric Teniola

From last week, this is the concluding part of the narrative  on  the National Economic  Intelligence Committee, NEIC; its functions, impact and recommendations before its roles began to diminish under different regimes

AFTER the death of General Sani Abacha, the National Economic Intelligence Committee, NEIC, played fewer roles, especially during the tenure of General Abdusalam Abubakar. However, on Monday, November 8, 1999, President Olusegun Obasanjo revived the committee when he appointed Dr. Ibrahim Ayagi (1940-2020) as Chairman of the committee.

While inaugurating Dr. Ayagi as chairman of NEIC, President Obasanjo declared: “The development effort since independence has been characterised by huge public investments in all sectors of the economy. If we stop to take stock of total public expenditure in the nearly 40 years of our independence, we would find the sum-total to be staggering. Yet, in spite of these staggering expenditures, and in spite of our vast human and material resources, we have made only minimal progress with alleviating the sufferings of the majority of our people”.

Though the short-comings of our development process include policy inconsistency as well as wrong policy prescription and articulation, the real problem is with policy implementation. Thousands of government projects, which were initiated two or more decades ago, remain uncompleted. These projects include the Ajaokuta Steel Complex, the Paper Mills at Iwopin, Jebba and Oku lboku ; the Oshogbo Machine Tools and a number of multi-purpose dam projects, roads, etc. This situation is aggravated by the manifest inability to maintain existing structures. Those projects completed have been badly mismanaged and badly run down. In addition, corruption and lack of transparency have become formidable impediments to the efficient allocation and use of resources. They have become all-pervasive and pose severe, if not mortal, danger to our moral and civil responsibilities and commitments as a nation.

As you are already well aware, this administration is committed to poverty alleviation through rapid economic growth and development. We will ensure efficient use of resources, speedy implementation of projects and we will tirelessly fight against corruption and indiscipline. The task before us is enormous and all hands must be on deck if we are to succeed. It is in this connection that this administration has decided to reconstitute the National Economic Intelligence Committee, NEIC”.

President Obasanjo then weakened the committee’s power by placing it under the Minister of Economic matters, Chief Vincent Eze Ogbulafor (May 24, 1949 – October 6, 2022. He said the legal instrument under which NEIC was established would be revised. With that, the committee could no longer monitor the supervision or the implementation of capital projects in various ministries.

During the tenure of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, the National Economic Intelligence Committee, NEIC, was scrapped. Till today, it has not been revived. In the circumstance we are at the moment, we may need to take another look at some of the measures recommended by the Committee.