Muhammadu Buhari has appointed a former investment banker and business consultant as his new finance minister, over seven months after taking the reins of Africa’s largest economy.
Kemi Adeosun is one of 36 new cabinet members to be sworn in on Wednesday. According to her LinkedIn profile, Adeosun has spent the last four years as finance commissioner of the south-western Ogun State.
Adeosun takes over at a difficult time for the Nigerian economy, which has been battered by the decline in global crude oil prices. GDP growth is expected to fall to 5% this year from 6.3% in 2014, according to the African Economic Outlook.
From 2002 to 2010, Adeosun, 48, worked as a managing director at Chapel Hill Denham, the Lagos-based investment bank. She had previously spent much of her early career in the UK, including stints at Price Waterhouse Coopers, the London Underground and British Telecom. She is a graduate of the University of East London.
The finance minister’s chair has been empty since the May departure of Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, the respected economist who served under former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Analysts have criticised the delay in appointing her replacement. In the absence of a working cabinet, the Central Bank of Nigeria has grown increasingly assertive in the areas of industrial and financial policy, with some arguing that it has overstepped its monetary policy remit.
Central Bank governor Godwin Emefiele has been criticised by manufacturers for introducing foreign exchange restrictions in a bid to strengthen the weak naira.
In recent remarks reported by Bloomberg, Adeosun came out in favour of the restrictions, arguing that the Central Bank had created “breathing space” by preserving scarce foreign exchange reserves.
In a research note, John Ashbourne, Africa economist at Capital Economics, said that investors would welcome the cabinet appointments, but said that Adeosun’s relatively low profile could limit her influence.
“It should be noted that Ms. Adeosun has a much lower profile than her predecessor… This may limit her ability to push through the radical fiscal reforms that Nigeria desperately needs.”
Okechukwu Enelemah, whose name was in the frame for the finance job, has been appointed Minister of Industry Trade and Investment, while Babatunde Fashola was named minister of Power, Works and Housing.
Emmanuel Kachikwu, managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company, has been appointed junior oil minister.