Goldman Sachs' Aganga Named Nigerian Finance Minister (Update2)
Monday, April 5, 2010
©2010 Bloomberg News
By Paul Okolo and Dulue Mbachu
April 6 (Bloomberg) -- Olusegun Aganga, a managing director at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., was today named as finance minister of Nigeria, Africa's largest oil producer and most populous nation.
Aganga, who has degrees from the University of Oxford and the University of Ibadan, will head a team that will brief acting President Goodluck Jonathan every two weeks on the state of the economy, Jonathan said at a swearing-in ceremony in the capital, Abuja.
The team "must help to fast-track the process of our development as this is the most important task in the life of our nation," Jonathan said. "Our present and our future depend on it."
Jonathan, 52, named his entire 42-member Cabinet today, replacing many of the ministers he dismissed two weeks ago. He dissolved the former Cabinet on March 17, five weeks after taking over from President Umaru Yar'Adua, who hasn't been seen in public since traveling to Saudi Arabia on Nov. 23 for medical treatment. He has since returned to Nigeria.
The former mines minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, was named as the new petroleum minister. Nigeria is the fifth- biggest source of U.S. oil imports.
Aganga is a qualified accountant and worked for Ernst & Young LLP before joining Goldman Sachs in London in 2001, where he started at the European brokerage division. He was promoted to managing director, the second-highest rank in the company, in 2003.
With Nigeria planning a eurobond sale in a few months, "his professional profile could to some extent be a comparative advantage," said Samir Gadio, Vice President at Rencap Securities in Lagos, a unit of Moscow-based Renaissance. "His appointment may be positively perceived by international investors and global markets for the same set of reasons."
Aganga will have to help push ahead with policies that have been delayed by Yar'Adua's absence, including an end to fuel subsidies and the implementation of the budget, which wasn't approved until March 25.
Nigeria, which has a population of about 150 million, has a budget of 4.6 trillion naira ($30.7 billion) for fiscal 2010. The government is spending on roads, bridges, houses, schools and power plants in a bid to improve the country's infrastructure.
The budget was delayed in part because Yar'Adua never formally transferred authority to Jonathan, his deputy. That prompted parliament to proclaim Jonathan as acting president on Feb. 9 to end a power vacuum that left key decisions pending.
"While we continue to pray for the speedy recovery of the President, permit me to emphasize the policy continuum of governance and to insist on the imperative of this team to roll up its sleeves, and to redouble efforts so as to meet the expectations of our people who are yearning for good governance," Jonathan said today.