A former Minister of Solid Minerals, Dr Oby Ezekwesili has said that the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar was not the Head of the Economic Management Team (EMT) during the period he was deputy to President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Obasanjo was president between 1999 and 2007, while Atiku served as vice president. Ezekwesili was Minister of Solid Mineral from June 2005 to June 2006, and redeployed as Minister to the Ministry of Education between June 2006 and April 2007.
On Monday, Atiku wrote on his twitter handle @atiku that, as the Vice President, he was the Head of the Economic Management Team and was instrumental in designing a private sector revival strategy and also advocated the opening of the economy for private sector investments in several sectors.
Atiku wrote: “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. #AtikuAtNESG”.
Responding on her official Twitter handle @obyezeks, Ezekwesili, who was in the Obasanjo cabinet for two years, wrote: “Dear former Vice President Atiku, 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.
“Happy New Year. Wish you well”.
Ezekwesili’s response has so far elicited several reactions from Nigerians on twitter.
Many argued that part of the responsibilities of the Vice President is to head the Economic Management Team.
Replying to @obyezeks, @chosensomto said: “It is the words of Oby vs the constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria that makes the VP the head of the economic team.
“Guess which one they will believe on twitter? Lol.
“Echo chamber, and some people have learned how to play the mob”.
Following the same thread, @Cynthia_Ugo2 said: “I think you are the one that need more clarification. National Economic Council is different from Economic Management Team.
“The Economic Council comprises of Governors etc. But the later does not”.
Similarly, @mgmace7 noted “Buhari’s Economic Management Team is headed by Doyin Salami. Osibanjo was relieved of the head. OBJ EMT was headed by Ngozi Okonkwo-Iweala. Facts only Man”.
Obasanjo set up the EMT in 2003, while the constitution provides for a National Economic Council, headed by the Vice President. The constitution empowers the council to “advise the President concerning the economic affairs of the Federation, and in particular on measures necessary for the coordination of the economic planning efforts or economic programmes of the various Governments of the Federation”.