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Movers and Shakers in Nigerian Government

By on November 25, 2011

The Financial Times has attempted to document the heavyweights of the Goodluck Jonathan administration.  Whilst the criterion for the selection of the “Movers and Shakers in the new administration” is not provided, the list compiled by William Wallis selects key members of the presidency and the Economic management team of the GEJ administration.

The list is copied below as follows:

Ngozi Okonjo Iweala Finance minister: When former president Olusegun Obasanjo brought Ms Okonjo-Iweala in from her previous job as vice president at the World Bank, where she had spent a 20-year  career, he needed to prove that reforms were paying off. He had staked his reputation on fighting corruption and on winning a reprieve from a crippling $32bn external debt. On both counts, he was foundering. Between 2003 and 2006 Ms Okonjo- Iweala helped turn the situation around. With a Harvard degree in economics and a PhD from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she spoke the right language at G8 summits, winning over the likes of Tony Blair, then Britain’s prime minister, and Sir Bob Geldof, the campaigning rock star, when they were seeking an African champion to lend weight to their pursuit of debt relief. After spending several years back at the World Bank as a managing director she returns to the cabinet as finance minister with a new enlarged brief to oversee economic reform.

Lamido Sanusi Central bank governor Mr Sanusi helped keep the flame of reform alight during several years of lacklustre government under the ailing president Umaru Yar’Adua, who died in office last year. Following the stock market crash in 2008 when the extent of margin and “insider” lending by some of the country’s banks became clear, he has helped restore sanity to a financial system grown rotten at its core. Under his watch, the CBN has pursued criminal cases against four bank executives charged with money laundering and fraud. An Islamic scholar and experienced private sector banker, Mr Sanusi is enforcing new regulations and encouraging the banks to lend more and more effectively to the private sector. A left leaning intellectual, he is also a champion of development and is using the central bank to promote agriculture growth and wants to see tariffs used more effectively to protect and stimulate industry.

Akinwumi Adesina Minister of agriculture Akinwumi Adesina worked for years in Nairobi as the deputy head of the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa, which is chaired by Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary general and promotes food security and sustainable agriculture based on smallholder farmers. An agronomist by training, Mr Adesina’s experience and contacts with the likes of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as well a stint at the Rockefeller Foundation could help provide the bold experimentation the sector requires. Agriculture in Nigeria has seen impressive growth in the past few years thanks to population increases, use of land and labour but yields have barely increased since independence. The appointment of anindependent thinker and expert at a ministry traditionally led by political appointees and that became synonymous with fertiliser rackets has raised hopes of a genuine revival in farming.

Anyim Pius Anyim Secretary to the government of the federation The secretary to the government of the federation sits between the presidency, ministries, national assembly and civil service, the interface of public administration. Anyim Pius Anyim was a surprise choice for a position typically reserved for seasoned technocrats President of the senate in 2000-2003 and a career politician from Imo state, his appointment appeared designed to appease the east, excluded from the presidency and senior national assembly appointments. Effective implementation of President Jonathan’s  transformation agenda” will depend as much on Mr Anyim’s proven talents as a politician as his ability to harness the administrative scope of one of Nigeria’s most powerful offices.

Andrew Azazi National security adviser Keeping the peace in Nigeria is never an easy job. With one insurgency in the Niger delta more or less under control, retired General Andrew Azazi, national security adviser, finds himself occupied with tackling the emerging threat of Islamist extremism. In 2011, Boko Haram (western education is a sin) took its campaign to Abuja, with devastating attacks against police headquarters and the UN. A former head of military intelligence, Gen Azazi was an informal adviser to the president long before his appointment as NSA in October 2010.
He is looking to build on delicate relations with foreign allies to support efforts to prevent jihadist groups from consolidating their foothold in Nigeria, while also dealing with a host of more localized security difficulties.

Hassan Tukur Principal secretary to the president In a political and business culture that celebrates nothing so much as the “big man”, President Goodluck Jonathan is something of an anomaly: as self-effacing as he is reserved, and with no obvious obligation to any particular “godfather”. But the presidency remains the main institution in government, occupied with everything from the development of long-term strategy to dealing with day-to-day crises. It is the job of the principal secretary to keep the presidency focused and on top of issues. Hassan Tukur is a career foreign services officer, fluent in seven languages, who has quietly worked at the centre of every administration for 30 years. A Muslim from Adamawa State, he is one of very few northerners to have the confidence of the president, with a growing reputation as the official who understands what is needed and how best to deliver it.

Deziani Allison­Maduekwe Minister for petroleum The first Nigerian woman minister for oil, Ms AllisonMaduekwe, has rattled cages since her appointment last year. A former employee of Royal Dutch Shell, her father was in charge of the company in Nigeria. That may have initially reassured the status quo But not for long. The Petroleum Industries Bill she has championed would secure a greater share of revenues for the state. Lobbying efforts by the oil majors have led to the bill being watered down and delayed. The minister, who wields growing influence, is reputedly close to President Jonathan and hails from his Bayelsa state in the oil producing Niger delta.

Princess Stella Oduah Aviation minister: One of a clutch of powerful women in the cabinet, the aviation minister describes herself as an “Amazon” on her own website. British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have discovered this to their cost. A businesswoman with interests in oil and gas Ms Oduah has picked a fight with the British carriers, fining both a combined $235m for alleged price fixing, and threatening to prevent BA from landing at Lagos, a move that would cost it one of its most lucrative routes. This was a retaliatory measure after Nigerian airline Arik Air had slots removed from Heathrow.