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Will Kemi Adeosun be Nigeria’s next Minister of Finance

Kemi Adeosun

Kemi Adeosun, a former investment banker and London-trained accountant, may be Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s pick for finance minister, according to analysts including Bismarck Rewane of the Financial Derivatives Co. in Lagos, and Manji Cheto, vice president of risk adviser Teneo Intelligence in London, who said she may be finance minister, given her previous position as finance commissioner of Ogun state in the south-west of Nigeria for the past four years.

Tweeting the live ministerial screening this afternoon Elombah Perspective stated: “This young lady – an economist cum an accountant – called Kemi Adeosun ( a former Ogun state finance commissioner ) now being screened as one of the ministerial nominees. I think we should tell President Buhari to appoint her the Finance Minister.”

“She impressed during the screening. demonstrating sound grasp of issues”.

“Adeosun has a strong background,” Rewane told Bloomberg by phone on Tuesday from the commercial capital, Lagos. “She has a lot of energy and is high on integrity. She’s pro-reform and is a realist.”

According Bloomberg however, Adeosun may struggle to convince Nigerians she is right for the job because she doesn’t have a high profile like her predecessor, Cheto said by phone from London. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who stepped down as finance minister after Jonathan lost the election to Buhari in March, was previously a managing director at the World Bank.

Adeosun has degrees in economics and public financial management from universities in London, according to her LinkedIn profile. She worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP in London and at Chapel Hill Denham Ltd., a Nigerian investment bank, before becoming finance commissioner in of Ogun state in 2011. It has the seventh smallest economy of Nigeria’s 36 states, according to Renaissance Capital.

Buhari’s cabinet nominations come more than four months after the 72-year-old former military leader took office on May 29 following a decisive election victory over the incumbent Goodluck Jonathan. His finance minister will need to restore confidence in Africa’s biggest economy in the face of plunging oil revenue, foreign-currency restrictions, slowing growth and attacks by Boko Haram militants.

Senate President Bukola Saraki on Tuesday published the list of 21 people who make up the first group of ministerial nominees proposed by Buhari, who hasn’t yet disclosed which portfolios the candidates will lead.  

The Senate began vetting the candidates on Oct. 13, Saraki said in the statement. The presidency will only announce the portfolios for each person once lawmakers have approved them, Femi Adesina, a spokesman for Buhari, said by phone from Abuja, the capital.

Kemi Adeosun said today that a currency devaluation on its own won’t solve the nation’s economic problems and she supports the central bank’s foreign-exchange restrictions. 

“What the Central Bank of Nigeria governor has done is brought in some breathing space because if we allowed the market to continue, all our reserves would have been depleted,” Adeosun told lawmakers during her Senate confirmation hearing on Wednesday.

President Muhammadu Buhari nominated Adeosun, a former investment banker and London-trained accountant, as a cabinet minister, without disclosing what portfolio she may lead.

Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele has resisted pressure from investors and fellow policy makers to devalue the naira despite a plunge in oil revenue, imposing foreign-currency controls instead. The naira has averaged 198.99 per dollar since the restrictions were imposed in February.

“There are pros and cons around devaluation,” Adeosun said. “Adjusting the foreign exchange rate on its own in isolation will not solve our problems.”

Buhari’s finance minister will need to restore confidence in Africa’s biggest economy in the face of lower oil prices, slowing economic growth and attacks by Boko Haram militants.

Economic growth slowed to 2.4 percent in the second quarter, the slowest pace this decade, as falling income from crude exports and foreign-exchange shortages hit businesses.

Adeosun added that she’s in favor of lower interest rates and reducing the government’s spending on salaries and overheads from 78 percent of the budget. The government must increase revenue, spend it better and seek other sources of funding, she said.

“What we need to do is strategize and the solution will not just be exchange rate,” she said. “The exchange rate is not the silver bullet, it’s not the wonder drug. It has to be accompanied with fiscal policies and monetary policies and industrial policies.”

Graft allegations

As is common in the Nigeria political landscape, Adeosun already have a corruption petition hanging around her neck.

According to CACOL, the anti-corruption NGO in a petition dated 10th September, 2015 stated thus; “Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, we dare say, is one individual that cannot add any value or gain to your administration which you have consistently been promising would be focused, proactive, selfless and above all, corrupt-free, given her antecedent that has been found to be filled with so many scandalous activities premising on financial mismanagement, questionable and self-beneficial transactions of government businesses, wastefulness, acquisition of questionable wealth, ineptness and of course, graft.”

Kemi Adesoun denies graft allegations

The former Ogun State Finance Commissioner has denied allegations of financial impropriety levied against her by the Organization of Financial Probity. The Group had in a statement issued in August accused the former commissioner of fraud, awarding contracts to her husband, manipulation of government records, and living above her income.

When contacted, Mrs Kemi Adeosun said that there was no truth in the allegations and dared the group to provide evidence of their claims made in their statement.

The case against Mrs Kemi Adeosun

According to the press release titled, ‘Ten Things People Need to Know About Mrs Kemi Adeosun, Former Commissioner for Finance, Ogun State’, and signed by the so called Organisation of Financial Probity, Nigeria, dated August, 2015:

It is now public knowledge that Governor Ibikunle Amosun is lobbying to convince President Mohammed Buhari to appoint Mrs Kemi Adeosun to a high level position where she will be in charge of one of Nigeria’s federal MDAs. This would not only be injurious to an administration that is embarking on an anti-corruption campaign but it would be a gross abuse of access on the part of Governor Amosun. Mrs Kemi Adeosun’s four-year stint in Ogun State leaves behind a trail of financial mismanagement, immeasurable ineptness and unspoken avarice. Mrs Kemi Adeosun failed in her primary duty to guide Governor Ibikunle Amosun in prudent financial management.

1. A British citizen, Adeosun returned to Nigeria in the early 2000s, having worked at a local branch of a UK building society, but determined to break into the Nigerian financial sector by any means possible.

2. One of the first positions she obtained in Nigeria was in Bolaji Balogun’s ChapelHill Denham where she was asked to resign, following anti-company activities which she executed in conjunction with Niyi Adeosun, her husband – a heavy drinker who has made a career of capitalising on dubious opportunities created by his wife. We would like Kemi Adeosun to let the general public know about the role both she and her husband played in the failed Ogun State Model Schools project which resulted in a huge waste of public funds. Her husband’s company collected an advance payment for building some of the schools yet the structures did not materialise.

3. Although their relationship has since gone awry, it is widely known that it was Mr Wale Edun, former Lagos commissioner for Finance (under Tinubu) who generously recommended Kemi Adeosun to Governor Amosun. Due diligence was clearly not done or else it would have been apparent to Ibikunle Amosun that he was appointing someone who is commonly referred to as a ‘rogue’ in the Nigerian financial sector.

4. On getting the job as Commissioner for Finance in Ogun State, Kemi Adeosun constantly misled both the State Executive Council and the governor by over-inflating the state’s IGR. This led to the Ogun State government being further plunged into debt. It would be instructive to learn just how much debt Ogun State has accrued in the last four years under the watch of Governor Ibikunle Amosun and his Finance Commissioner. We challenge Mrs Kemi Adeosun to provide an analysis of the recurrent income that supports her IGR claims. Does Kemi Adeosun not know that the huge debts owed to hundreds of contractors should form part of the state’s current liabilities? Ogun State’s finances are in a mess.

5. During her tenure, Kemi Adeosun routinely rejected good opportunities for investor funding of projects, in preference for loans to the state so that she could benefit from kickbacks from banks such as GTBank and First Bank. So devious is she that when given preloaded bankcards, she would specifically demand that the money be handed to her in cash.

6. Kemi Adeosun misled the State Executive Council in divesting from or underfunding potentially lucrative but failing parastatals like Gateway Savings and Loans, Plantgate etc thereby creating business opportunities for companies to which her husband is linked.

7. Kemi Adeosun used her inside knowledge of projects in other ministries to hijack initiatives that the ministries were promoting. A case in point is the flagship programme, Home Owners Charter, which ended up being driven by the Ministry of Finance instead of the Ministry of Housing. Such projects provided the opportunity for profiteering. Based on our research, Mrs Kemi Adeosun managed the statewide supply of the bright green Home Owners Charter porter cabins at six times the going rate.

8. A particularly juicy project was the implementation of the cashless policy. It affected almost all major ministries yet was done without consultation or collaboration, leaving Kemi Adeosun as the controller-in-chief of the ‘thank-you’ packages from the banks who paid her a percentage on a recurrent basis.

9. In the words of a member of staff at the Ministry of Finance, “When Mrs Adeosun can not find a way of personally benefitting from an initiative introduced by any of her colleagues, she is known to kill it with lies, thereby abusing her access to the governor. She would then repackage the same ideas in a way that would benefit her directly, more often than not using the Ministry of Finance or her external surrogates.” The details of such transactions will be made public in due course.

10. It is important for Nigerians everywhere to know that if Kemi Adeosun is appointed to any Federal MDAs, she will without a doubt undermine President Buhari’s intentions by damaging such an institution with her greed and inclination for corrupt practices. Without resorting to bamboozling people with her cockney accent, we challenge Mrs Kemi Adeosun, who is not an indigene of Ogun State to provide the general public with references from the financial institutions she has worked for.

This is not the end. We are in possession of proof of her wide-scale corrupt practices. Within two years of assuming office in Ogun State, Mrs Kemi Adeosun registered her children in independent schools in the UK where she is paying in excess of twelve thousand British pounds per term. All this on a salary of N320,000 a month from Ogun State. It would serve the British government well to investigate financial transfers made by members of Mrs Kemi Adeosun’s family to ascertain that this is not money-laundering.

We are highly impressed by President Buhari’s determination to rid the government at all levels of corruption and shady practices. We have focused our research on Commissioners of Finance in various states. As Nigerians, it is to our common advantage that corrupt government officials are not further rewarded.

Your Boss Matters

Let’s look at it this way, Adesoji Erewami Juba told Elombah.com, former president Olusegun Obasanjo said the Okonjo-iweala that worked with him was not same that worked with Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. What does that say?

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