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BANKING AND FINANCE

Kemi Adeosun: Salvaging Nigeria From A Rudderless Economy

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When she came on board, little or nothing was known about the accent speaking lady (Mind you, her accent is very genuine, you know those flawless types spoken by the British). Worse, was when the portfolio of minister for Finance was assigned to her, a majority of Nigerians sneered at her appointment, others cast her in the shadows of her prominent predecessors, what good could come out of a former commissioner ?

Then the recession came and though this was not the fault of the present administration nor Mrs Adeosun but of the past administration which had failed to save for the rainy day and had painted to Nigerians a very false picture of the economy. But are we not Nigerians? Who choose to blame government for everything under the sun? The blame was immediately attributed to President Buhari and then to the Finance Minister, one of the never ending crescendos heard all over the place was that President Buhari had picked a wrong Minister for Finance, had it been Madam World Bank, Nigeria would have escaped the recession, bla, bla, bla and someone’s black sheep! These ignorant gnashnabs forgot that it was the same Madam World Bank that announced to the nation sometime before she left office that the salaries for certain months had been borrowed and that Nigeria was in for tough times. The same Madam World Bank presided over some of the scandalous careening of our commonwealth, and though it has been confirmed that she did not initiate such processes nor append her ink to such looting bazaars, she cannot totally absolve herself from such sins. The least she could have done in such a scenario was to resign, but not even a whiff of protest from Madam World Bank did greet any of these transactions. I heard she has chosen to protest now, via a book.
For the records, it was in that period that crude oil prices, our economy’s mainstay if not “only stay” then was spiralling downwards, “ oyel” money was loosing it’s steam while at the same time, our foreign reserve was at a near all time low( Madam World Bank presided over this too) while we still imported all kinds of stuff( Toothpicks, soap and cosmetic, palm oil, vegetable oil, meat and Indian Incense) putting much pressure on an already strained currency of ours.
It then did seem as if our country men loved to hate Mrs Adeosun, her accent was picked upon, as if that was the reason why the economy then was in the doldrums. When the budgetary gaps appeared to be incredibly huge and projected revenue earnings for the country looked unrealisable, the Finance Minister was the immediate scapegoat, like I had mentioned earlier , she was bashed repeatedly on the airwaves, undeservedly I must say.

But like the steely woman that she is, Adeosun lapped up the criticism with the understanding that Nigerians are highly moved by results and what they can see? Armed with this and a profound sense of professionalism, Adeosun got down to the business at hand.
A plethora of reforms took off; first was the establishment of an Efficiency Unit for the Ministry of Finance. The aim of the unit was to ensure that all government expenditure was tied to what added value such an expenditure could earn. Cutting waste via the introduction of This way the Ministry has saved over 20 billion Naira for the nation’s coffers.
Whilst she was at this, Nigerian pensioners were been owed arrears of their pension benefits for a stretch of four to five years (2013- 2016)t was through a Kemi Adeosun that 41.5 billion was released to the National Pension Commission for payments to the beneficiaries. This as well as the extra sum of 12.5 billion Naira was also inserted into the 2016 Appropriations Act.

Reeling from the economic slump , the worst ever, the nation was in abject need of funds to finance the huge investments in infrastructure as well as refinance the nation’s debt profile. At this point, our nation needed access to cheaper and long term sources for funding, one that would relieve pressure on the domestic bond market and help bring down interest rates. We turned to the International Bond Markets, netting three successful Eurobond sales with the third as the highest ever by any administration. This way, a number of infrastructural projects such as the standard gauge railway lines linking Lagos to Kano, and the Lagos to Calabar coastal railway will soon be completed.
Fighting corruption in Nigeria has never been easy, and recovering stolen funds has been much more difficult. Thus, there was need for a whistleblower sort of policy to encourage Nigerians with knowledge of how or where our looted funds could be located to come forward with that information. Under her watch the Ministry for Finance did just that, shaping a policy that not only fights public corruption but also enables a rise in the transparency of all government business.



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