The Importance of Economic Intelligence



During the era of General Sani Abacha GCFR (20 September 1943 – 8 June 1998), there was the National Economic Intelligence Committee (NEIC). The committee had its office at the seventh floor of the Federal Secretariat, Abuja. The committee was a co-pilot in the execution of economic policies for the country. The committee’s work was later inherited by General Abdusalam Abubakar GCFR (81) following the death of General Sani Abacha and then by President Olusegun Obasanjo GCFR (87) in May 1999. 

The committee was established by Decree 17 of February 1994. It was headed by Professor Samuel Adepoju Aluko (August 18, 1929 – February 7, 2012) from Ode in Ekiti state.  Professor Aluko played advisory to Chief Obafemi Awolowo (6 March 1909-9 May 1987), Chief Adekunle Ajasin (28 November 1908 – 3 October 1997), General Yakubu Gowon GCFR (89) and General Sani Abacha GCFR (20 September 1943 – 8 June 1998). He was very close to Ikemmba of Nnewi, Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu (4 November 1933 – 26 November 2011), before, during and after the civil war.

The first military coup and the events that led to the civil war met him in Eastern Nigeria and it was at that time that he formed a personal friendship with the secessionist leader, Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu.

 In fact he advised Chief Ojukwu to go into exile to Cote Ivoire instead of Togo or Tanzania or France.

In one of his interviews with THE SUN Newspaper before he died, Professor Aluko explained that Chief Ojukwu did not fully understand the average Igbo mind since he did not visit the Old Eastern Region until General Aguisi Ironsi GCFR (3 March 1924- 29 July 1966)appointed him the Military Governor of the Eastern Region in January 1966.

Those within government will attest that the bond between Professor Aluko and General Sani Abacha helped tremendously in the creation of Ekiti state on October 1, 1996. Instead of flying to Abuja via Akure or Ibadan or Lagos while serving as NEIC Chairman, Professor Aluko would drive in his Peugeot 504 station wagon car from Ode in Ekiti state most often carrying plantain from his farm during weekends.

Alhaji Lawal Garuba, a friend, the son of a Muslim Scholar in Kano and a businessman, is never tired of telling anyone how Professor Aluko took him to General Sani Abacha to seek for a favour even at the detriment of General Sani Abacha’s close friend, Alhaji Dan Kabo.

He was a down to earth man, who practiced what he preached. He never spared anyone if you are on the wrong route no matter who you are, even if you are his first son, Professor Mobolaji Ebenezer Aluko (69), the pioneer Vice Chancellor of the Federal University, Otueke, Bayelsa State from 2011 to 2016.

Professor Aluko’s brand of economic policy was critical of ostentatious government spending. When he returned from London, he became an informal adviser to the Action Group. He was appointed to head its austerity committee which was set up to find ways to save money. The committee recommended the slashing of allowances provided to ministers and political office holders, an idea that was not well supported by some of the political class within the party.

 In 1962, Professor Aluko was approached to serve as the regional economic adviser of the Western region. His salary was to be £2,942, at that time, he was a lecturer at University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University earning an annual wage of £1000. He accepted the offer on the condition that his new salary be reduced to the level he was paid at Ife stating that he will not be more productive at the new job than what he was doing at Ife. But this condition was rejected by the government.

While Professor Aluko was at Ile-Ife, he was a member of an informal advisory committee of AG, along with Professor Wole Soyinka (89), Professor Victor Oyenuga  (April 9, 1917 – April 10, 2010), Dr Odumosu and a couple of other lecturers. This group were strongly in favor of an idealistic party, a democratic socialist party that believed in curbing executive excesses, the advisory group also split with some members of the political class in terms how to engage with the national government and branching out of the Western region. Chief Obafemi Awolowo positively received some of the recommendations of this group but his deputy, Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola who was now premier of the region did not like most of the recommended policies.

In 1965, when Professor Saburi Biobaku  (1918–2001), the deputy Vice-Chancellor of UNIFE advised all lecturers to support the party of the day, which was NNDP, a splinter group of the Action Group led by Chief Samuel Akintola,  Professor Aluko sided with Awolowo’s side of the Action Group who were receptive of the recommendations offered by the Ife group. Professor Aluko offered to resign and gave a 3 month notice, the resignation was accepted immediately and he was ordered to vacate official premises as soon as possible, he left the university and joined the economics department of University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

Before the January 1966 coup, Professor Aluko addressing a youth conference had tasked the youths to be less tribal and engage with one another to unite the regions.

Professor Aluko’s views on economic growth and public finance was less elitist and was to approach decision making by using the federal, state and local government institutions as an instrument of growing the national economy. Professor Aluko’s view was drawing funds through higher rates of taxation and tracking tax defaulters to generate government income.

In interviews, columns and public lectures, Professor Aluko supported measures to increase workers productivity through better supervision and cutting of waste such as subsidized rent and allowances to government employees. These measures are capable of increasing government revenues that could fund policies to reduce unemployment and rural development.

As oil production increased in Nigeria in the 1970s, Professor Aluko was still inclined to support the thought that the state can be an engine of industrialization through funding of technical education, agriculture extension and infrastructural development. With a technical literate populace, the adoption and local reproduction of technology will be feasible. In addition, introducing mechanized farming will increase the income level of commercial farmers and the taxable income of government.

Professor Aluko’s support for mechanized farming meant balanced assistance to surplus producing commercial farmers and technical and educational assistance to small scale farmers to become surplus producing farmers. Small scale subsistence farmers who mostly live in the rural areas will use some the additional income to buy more affordable productive instruments. A strong believer in planning, it became important in agricultural planning for the development of a locally initiated agriculture instruments industries to save foreign exchange and produce affordable instruments for small scale farmers.

During General Ibrahim Babangida’s administration, Professor Aluko still steadfastly held on to the thought that the tiers of government had a major role to play in developing the economy. He was critical of the liberalization prescriptions of the structural adjustment programme adopted by the government.

Professor Aluko’s trouble with Structural Adjustment Programme also extended to the multilateral institutions who made the recommendations and the Nigerian economists who followed the dictates of Western capitalist thought. Professor Aluko faulted the benefits of free market currency devaluation and high interest rates that came after the programme was implemented.

Professor Aluko married his wife, Joyce Amomogha (September 20, 1934- March 5 2021) from  Ekpoma in Esan West local government area of  Edo state on valentine’s  day in 1955. He had his education at Christ’s Secondary School, Ado Ekiti, 1942-1945, London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London, 1955-1959; lecturer, Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology, Ibadan, 1959-1962, lecturer, University of Ife,Ile- Ife, 1962-1964, senior lecturer and head, Department of Economics, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, 1964-1966, reader in Economics, 1966-67, dean, Faculty of Social Science, University of Ife, 1968-1970, chairman, College of Humanities, University of Ife, 1972-1973, appointed Professor and head, Department of Economics, University of Ife, Nigeria, 1967; member, International Economic Association, member, American Economic Association, member, Royal Economic Society, member, International Association of Agricultural Economists, member, Nigerian Economic Society, member, World Council of Churches Advisory Committee on Technical Services; chairman, Election Planning  Committee, Action Group Party, Nigeria, 1964-1968.

While serving as Chairman of National Economic Intelligence Committee (NEIC), we often met in the elevator of the Federal Secretariat in Abuja, since I worked on the eleventh floor at the office of the Secretary of the Government of the Federation.

 General Sani Abacha made him a member of the Federal Executive Council and always differed to him on Economic issues during council deliberations. 

Other members of the committee were Brig-Gen. G.A. Mohammed, a Quantity Surveyor from  Borno State who was the Secretary. The rest were Dr. Haroun Adamu (Bauchi), Dr. Dalhatu Araf (Nassarawa), Alhaji Umaru Audi (Niger) , Alhaji Musa Bello (Adamawa), Alhaji U.K. Bello (Kebbi), Mr. Walter Ekwensi (Imo), Barrister Eugene Madu (Anambra),   Princess (Mrs.) A.O. Oguneye (Ekiti), Dr. Ode Ojowu (Benue), Mr. Babatunde Sangokunle (Ogun), Alhaji Nasiru Maitama Sule (Kano), Comrade Godwin Uluocha (Abia) 

In November 1995, Mr. Walter Ekwensi died and was replaced by Mr. Donald Duke, a Barrister, from Cross-River State.

In December 1997, the Secretary, Major-General Garba Ali Mohammed was appointed the Minister of Works and Housing and in August 1998, Princess (Mrs.) A.O. Oguneye was appointed the Minister of State for Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.  In March 1999, Dr. Haroun Adamu was appointed Member/Secretary of the Presidential Policy Advisory Committee (PPAC) by the President-Elect, General Olusegun Obasanjo. Barrister Donald Duke was elected Governor of Cross River State in January, 1999.  Both Barrister Donald Duke and Dr. Haroun Adamu resigned their appointments from NEIC as a result of their new positions.

When the committee was formed in 1994, the following were part of the committee’s responsibilities:

Functions of the Committee

Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (2) of section 1 of this Act, the Committee shall –

(a) analyse the annual budget and extract all economic measures requiring enforcement;

(b) work out details on the method of enforcing implementation of the annual budget;

(c) analyse the monetary guidelines issued by the  Central Bank of Nigeria (in this Act referred to as “the Bank”) and monitor the implementation of all the measures enumerated therein;

(d) monitor and identify factors inhibiting the realisation of set revenue targets such as tax evasion by individuals or association of individuals, and bodies corporate in the private and public sectors of the economy; (e) enforce the implementation of existing tax legislation; (f) assess the report on any project being carried out by the Federal Government and confirm that funds released for Federal Government projects are judiciously utilised;

(g) monitor and report to the Federal Government,  on quarterly basis, the inflationary rate, the consumer price index and such other growth indices on output, liquidity and cost of funds, transportation costs, fuel prices and other related tariffs;(h) recommend any increase or decrease of price on manufactured goods;(i) monitor the supply and demand of forex, the gap and factors affecting the markets sales and indicated rates, use of forex and operation of the market;

(j) consider any issue appropriate and relevant to the subject of revenue collection; (k) give a situation report of all its activities  on quarterly basis to the Federal Government; (l) ensure that any defaulter of any of the issues mentioned above or any other matter related thereto is brought before the Federal High Court; and (m) consider such other matters as may be referred to it from time to time by the President.

5. Powers of the Committee

The Committee shall have power to- (a) invite any person, group of persons or body corporate to appear before it; (b) call for memoranda from any person, association of individuals or bodies corporate, whether public or private; (c) ask for copies of reports, audited accounts or such other information as may be required for the purposes of the Committee and in whatever manner if deems fit from any person or association of individuals and body corporate whether public or private; (d) monitor any matter to the extent that it affects the functions of the Committee; (e) enforce foreign exchange regulations and cause offenders to be prosecuted; and (f) enter and inspect premises, project sites and  such other places as may be necessary for the purposes of carrying out its functions under this Act.

6. Directives by the President

(1) The President may give to the Committee such directives as appear to him to be just and proper for the effective discharge of the functions of the Committee under this Act. (2) It shall be the duty of the Committee to comply with any directives given pursuant to subsection (1) of this section. (3) Any decision reached by the President in accordance with this Act, shall be final and binding and notwithstanding the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1979, as amended, no suit or legal action in any court of law or tribunal shall be filed against any person for any act done or intended to be done in pursuance of any decision of the President.

Chief Paul Agbai Ogwuma (91) from Abayi in Imo state was governor of Central Bank at that time  while both Dr. Kalu Idika Kalu (84) from Ohafia in Abia state and Chief Anthony Ani (87) from Odukpani local government area of Cross River State served as Ministers of Finance under General Sani Abacha. At that time brilliant economists were running the economy of the country.

At that time also, there was the National Council of Nigerian Vision (NCNV), the Presidential Advisory Committee (PAC) and the National Economic Intelligence Committee (NEIC).

On March 25, 1998, the three bodies were merged together and they formed the Capital budget Monitoring Team. I was one of the Masters of Ceremony at the event, along with Ikenna Ndaguba (1935-2011). The inauguration was performed by the then Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Alhaji Gidado Idris GCON (15 March 1935- 15 December 2017)

The terms of reference of the team were to verify the judicious utilization of funds allocated to all Ministers and Parastatals for capital projects. Specifically, they were to verify that: the capital projects of the Ministries are prioritized, funds are used for the purpose for which they are allocated, funds are released to projects as and when due, the provisions of Financial Instructions are strictly observed in disbursement, there is a link between the Federal Ministry of Finance and the various Ministries themselves and the various capital projects they are handling and there is constant collaboration between the Monitoring Agencies, i.e. National Economic Intelligence Committee (NEIC), Presidential Advisory Committee (PAC), National Council of Nigerian Vision (NCNV), National Population Commission (NPC), and the internal ministerial monitoring units.

The following persons served in the Capital Budget Monitoring Team. They were Alhaji A. Mohammed, Professor (Mrs) E. Eke, Princess (Mrs) A. Oguneye, Mr. M.S. Hamid, Mr. C.D. Gali, Dr. A.A. Owosekun, Alabo T. Graham-Douglas, Mr. Eugene C. Madu, Professor T.O. Olowokere, Professor Gini Mbanefo, Mr. A.G. Oladuntoye, Mr. C.C. Chukwura, Mr. Idakwo, Alhaji B. Albasu, Mr. I.O. Shangotola, Comrade G.O. Uluocha, Mr S.O.O. Osanyintuyi, Mr. J.O. Olaniyi, Engineer V. Ogunmakin, Professor T.A. Omobighe, Mr. Adams Oshiomole, Dr. Ode Ojowu, Mr. S.O. Majoroh, Mr. A.T. Ikomi, Alhaji K. Bashir, Professor Anya O. Anya, Professor U.D. Gomwalk, Alhaji Nasiru Maitama Sule, Mr. Olu Akindutire, Mr. A. Adejuwon, Alhaji A. Jimoh, Professor S.A. Aluko, Chief P.C. Asiodu, Dr. H.R. Adamu, Professor Munzali Jibril, Mr. O.G. Okoye, Mr. J.B. Ilori, Mr. Tunji Olaopa, Alhaji S.Y. Hamma, Alhaji Ballam Manu and Mr. Donald Duke.

Although General Sani Abacha GCFR abused the system by enriching himself fantastically, it was Professor Aluko’s committee that pegged the official rate of N22 to 1 dollar.

The committee also recommended the following: There will be no bidding or allocation of foreign Exchange at the CBN, every company, individual or organization shall source foreign exchange requirements in the autonomous market, CBN shall hold the official foreign exchange, and from time to time, intervene in the autonomous market, all government parastals, government companies, agencies and government majority owned companies and organizations, exploration and production oil companies, and oil service companies, recipients of foreign of loans and grants must continue to maintain these foreign exchange currently domiciliary accounts with CBN which shall purchase such funds as and when necessary at the prevailing autonomous rates, operation of the domiciliary accounts shall be authorized and export proceeds and other repatriation in-flows shall be held in domiciliary accounts which shall be held and maintained with any authorized bank in Nigeria.

The beneficiaries of domiciliary accounts shall have unfettered use of funds contained therein, Interbank autonomous market shall operate freely and for the avoidance of doubt, no oil processing company shall be permitted to operate a foreign exchange market in Nigeria. The main actors in IFEM shall be the bank and bureau de change, with CBN intervening from time to time and Bureau de change shall be allowed to buy notes and coins and travelers cheques freely but shall sell only notes and coins up to a maximum of US$2500 per transaction. Buying and sale of notes and buying of travelers cheque by bureau de change shall be at autonomous market rate subject to a margin of 2%.

For better or worse the committee also recommended the promulgation of Failed Banks (Recovery of debts) and Financial Malpractices in Banks No. 18 of 1994, advances free fraud and other Fraud related offences decree 1995 (otherwise known as “419 decree”) and the Money laundering Decree of 1995.

Persons charged under the decree are to face the Miscellaneous Offences Tribunal.

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 characterized by huge public investments in all sectors of the economy. If we stop to take stock of total public expenditure in the nearly forty-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 light 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  (24 May 1949 – 6 October 2022. He said the legal instrument under which NEIC was established would be revised. With that the committee could no longer monitor the supervision of the implementation of capital projects in various ministries.

During the tenure of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan GCFR (66), the National Economic Intelligence Committee (NEIC) was scrapped. Till today, it has not been revived. In the presence circumstance we are at the moment, we may need to take another look at some of the measures recommended by the National Economic Intelligence Committee (NEIC).

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