Did Atiku Head the Economic Management Team Under Obasanjo?


Michael Babatunde

Former vice President and Presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar, has claimed that he led the economic management team during the tenure of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Atiku’s claim that he headed the economic management team is false; it was led by Okonjo-Iweala while Atiku led the National Economic Council. The Economic Management team and National Economic council are two separate teams.

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Atiku made the claim in a tweet on Monday, as an extract from his speech at the Presidential dialogue on the new economy organized by the National Economic Summit Group (NESG) in Lagos.

“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.” the tweet read.

As when the tweet was obtained by FactCheckElections, it had 926,200 views, 1,069 likes, 371 retweets and 178 quote tweets.

The economic management team was established by Obasanjo in 2003 at the commencement of his second tenure as president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Former Minister of Finance and now serving as the Director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was appointed by Obasanjo to lead the team while the President himself served as the chairman.

The team was saddled with the responsibility of designing and implementing economic reforms for the nation.

In a report obtained by FactCheckElections, Okonjo-Iweala said that she got permission of Obasanjo to set up a presidential economic team in 2003.

She listed the members of the 12-person team to include Chukwuma Soludo, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor; Nuhu Ribadu, chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC); Nasir el-Rufai, Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT); Oby Ezekwesili, Minister of Education; Bode Agusto, Director-General, Budget Office; Ifueko Omoigui, chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), among others who were serving in their respective offices at that time.

The team went on to lead the negotiations for Nigeria’s debt relief where a final agreement for debt relief worth $18 billion was reached, after Nigeria paid $12 billion.
Meanwhile, Atiku headed the National Economic Council (NEC) as provided by the constitution between 2000 – 2007.”
NEC was established by the provisions of the 1999 constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria, as amended, specifically section 153(1) and paragraphs 18 & 19 of part I of the third schedule.

The constitution provided that the NEC is 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.”
NEC is constitutionally made up of the VP as chairperson, 36 state governors, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and other co-opted government officials.

Vice-president Yemi Osinbajo chairs Nigeria’s current National Economic Council, a position he has held since 2015.

In 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari renamed the Economic Management Team (EMT) to Economic Advisory Council (EAC) appointing Prof. Doyin Salami as the Chairman.

A member of the Economic Management team led by Okonjo-Iweala, Oby Ezekwesili has faulted the claim by article.
Ezekwesili who was a Minister of Education in a tweet thread refuted Atiku’s claim explaining how EMT is different from NEC.


Atiku never headed the Economic Management Team under President Obasanjo, instead he headed the National Economic Council. The Economic Management Team was headed by Okonjo-Iweala.

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