HomeFact CheckFACT CHECK: Was Atiku head of Obasanjo’s economic management team?

FACT CHECK: Was Atiku head of Obasanjo’s economic management team?

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Former Nigerian Vice President Atiku Abubakar has claimed that he led the economic management team under former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate made the claim on Monday at the National Economic Summit Group (NESG) presidential dialogue on the economy 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,” Atiku said.

“I’m sure you still remember the good old days of rapid economic growth with stable interest and exchange rates, low inflation, low unemployment rates, and low poverty headcount.

Obasanjo was President of Nigeria from 1999 to 2007.

But is it true that Atiku led the economic management team?

VERIFICATION

TheCable discovered that Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former finance minister and now director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO), led Obasanjo’s economic management team.

Obasanjo established the economic management team in 2003, at the start of his second term as president.

According to the Centre for Africa-Europe Relations, when President Obasanjo was re-elected in 2003, he appointed a new economic management team led by former World Bank director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Many policy reforms were implemented by this team.”

In a report recounting her journey through economic reforms, Okonjo-Iweala admitted that in 2003, after obtaining permission from Obasanjo to form a presidential economic team, the former president decided to preside over the team as chair, while she takes the lead.

Under the Obasanjo administration, the team of 12 experts in macroeconomics, microeconomics, debt management, privatization, private-sector development, governance, anti-corruption measures, civil-service reform, and budget management was in charge of designing and implementing economic reforms.

Members of the 12-person team included Chukwuma Soludo, the then 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.

Okonjo-Iweala led the negotiations for Nigeria’s debt relief as the head of the economic management team and finance minister.

Following the negotiations, Nigeria and the Paris Club announced a final debt relief agreement worth $18 billion, with Nigeria paying $12 billion.

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