ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan added billionaire businessman Aliko Dangote and the managing director of Access Bank, Aigboje Imoukhuede, to his newly formed economic management team, bringing more private sector weight to his line-up.
Former World Bank managing director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was sworn in as Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance this week, prompting the creation of a new Federal Government Economic Management Team.
Jonathan will lead the team which includes Vice President Namadi Sambo and prominent ministers across government. Okonjo-Iweala will head a 15-member implementation team that will meet every week to oversee the success of the economic committee.
Industrialist Dangote will stand out in a team made up mostly of government officials. He was ranked by Forbes as Nigeria’s richest man and his cement business is the largest listed firm on the country’s stock exchange.
“I expect the member of the economic management team to combine their individual strength to generate ideas and initiative in-line with our goals in transforming every sector of Nigerian life, particularly the economy,” Jonathan said during the inauguration of the team this week.
Okonjo-Iweala negotiated hard before leaving the World Bank and the change in the structure of managing Africa’s third-largest economy will give her much more influence than her predecessor Olusegun Aganga was able to exert.
In a sign of her intent to lead the reform agenda in Africa’s most populous nation, she made a presentation at a meeting of the economic team on Friday entitled: “Transforming Nigeria/Creating Jobs - A Short to Medium Term Agenda”.
Okonjo-Iweala stepped on some toes when she held the finance minister position between 2003 and 2006 and investors are watching closely to see how she operates alongside fellow ministers and reform heavyweights like Central Bank Governor Lamido Sanusi.
Nigeria faces a long list of hurdles, not least opaque government spending, rampant corruption, import dependence, and the need to tame double-digit inflation while creating jobs and building infrastructure.