Zainab Ahmed, Nigerian Minister for Finance

The last time we heard of such development was in the first term of the Goodluck Jonathan’s presidency, when the globally acclaimed financial technocrat, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala was appointed Minister of Finance and the Coordinating Minister of the Economy.

She came with a rich background steeped in international financial circle as a World Bank top technocrat before her appointment as minister. Widely recognised and well connected in important international financial institutions across the world such position for her did not raise much eyebrows. Her contribution and presence in the Obasanjo and the Jonathan presidencies helped stabilise the volatile economy and facilitated the debt forgiveness.

The new Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, unlike Iweala, though said to be a brilliant accountant does not have the kind of gravitas and intimidating presence as her predecessor. Also given the past experience with another super minister in the regime, former Lagos state governor Mr. Babatunde Fashola, who was saddled with three ministries of Works, Housing and Power, which turned out a huge disappointment, there is considerable concern over rationale for this action except the usual nepotic disposition of the President.

The reasonable question to ask is; How could the failure one minister justify the appointment of another. By most indications, the economy is heading toward a stormy weather and the two positions of Finance and Budget and National planning are critical to the management of the economy and any poor vision or interpretation of events could be very dangerous to the nation.

The Finance Minister directs the Nigerian Ministry of Finance and ensures that it operates in a transparent, accountable and efficient manner to bolster the country’s economic development priorities. She is the chief economist of government and provide the executive peg for cabinet decisions and policies. The Minister is assisted by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance, a career civil servant.

The current minister, Ahmed was appointed on 14 September 2018 in Abuja – following the acceptance of the resignation of her predecessor, Kemi Adeosun. For anyone that will function effectively as Finance minister, the person must have some level of international clout, as part of the core duty entail preparation of annual budgetary estimates of revenue and expenditure for the Federal Government.

Generally recognised as brilliant and diligent, however, her background as an accountant is somewhat a constraint especially in the planning aspect of her brief, as a result of the myriad of economic and social challenges facing the country.

It also includes determination of Federal Government fiscal policies, mobilization of domestic and external financial resources for national development purposes, management of foreign exchange reserves, management of Federal Government revenue, currency valuation, regulation of the insurance industry and revenue allocation management.

She had previously served the government when in 2015 she was appointed the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning by President Muhammadu Buhari.

She was the immediate past executive secretary and national coordinator of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI). She was also a member of the last two NEITI boards, having worked in the NEITI and global EITI.

Ahmed was born in Kaduna State. She had her secondary school education at Queen Amina College, Kaduna, and later proceeded to have her A’ Level in Zaria. She got her first degree in Accounting from Ahmadu Bello University in 1981, after-which she proceeded to Olabisi Onabanjo University for her MBA.

Ahmed’s MBA was obtained in August 2004 from the Ogun State University, Ago Iwoye; while her BSc Accounting (1981) was from Ahmadu Bello University(ABU), Zaria; IJMB ‘A’ Levels (1979) from SBS/ABU Zaria; and WASC ‘O’ Level in 1977 from Queen Amina College, Kaduna.

Ahmed, in her biography, says she has “extensive knowledge and diverse experience in public sector reform and management.”

Upon graduation, Ahmed was employed in 1982 as an Accountant II in the Main Accounts of Ministry of Finance in Kaduna State and was promoted to Accountant I in March 1984, but resigned in 1985 to join NITEL. Earlier, she had done her National Youth Service in Kaduna State in 1981/1982 where she was posted for primary assignment to Messrs. Egunjobi Suleiman & Co. Chartered Accountants, and served as an Audit Trainee.

Ahmed has served the Nigerian public in various high ranking positions, including as managing director of the Kaduna State of Nigeria’s investment company, and also the Chief Finance Officer of the Nigeria mobile telecommunications company.

As Nigeria’s Finance Minister, Zainab bagged new degree from ‘PMB School of governance’ on Wednesday, July 22, 2019. Zainab was reappointed and sworn in as the Minister of Finance on the 21st of August 2019 by the President. She has served as International Monetary Fund (IMF), Ex-Officio Member of the Board of Governors (since 2018), and Islamic Development Bank, Ex-Officio Member of the Board of Governors (since 2018).