Past Ministers of Finance in Nigeria from 1960 Till Date

Past Ministers of Finance in Nigeria from 1960 Till Date


From 1960 till date, Nigeria has produced 24 ministers of finance. And before the first military coup of January 1966, the first Finance Minister, Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh, made the office interesting not just by some of the economic policies he brought to the table, but for the traditional regalia that flowed after him during budget presentation and defence.

While an engineer or medical doctor may be appointed as the minister of information, never in the history of Nigeria has anyone who doesn’t have a sound knowledge of economics or accounting been appointed as minister of finance.

Nigeria’s Finance Minister is the manager of the economy, other ministries depend on him for approval of their budget.


Finance Ministers During Military Regime In Nigeria

Interestingly, military governments have mostly been in government since Nigeria’s independence in 1960.

Most of the military rulers lack the running of an economy, but from the study of military rule, most of the rulers employ the services of sound economists to be in charge of the ministry of finance.

For instance, the administration of Obasanjo in 1999 invited Adamu Ciroma who was the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria during his military regime in the 1970s to be the finance minister in Nigeria in 1999.

Another one was undertaken by the brutal regime of Sani Abacha when he brought back Kalu Idika Kalu to oversee the ministry of finance. He would later replace him with another excellent accountant and economist Anthony Ani while he appointed a renowned economist Samuel Aluko as his economic adviser.

Having said that, what roles do the minister of finance play in the success or otherwise of a ruling party of government?

10 major Functions of Finance Minister In Nigeria

1) Now that the Ministry of Budget and National Planning has been merged with Finance, the Minister of Finance is responsible for the preparation of annual budgetary estimates of revenue and expenditure for Nigeria’s government.

2) The minister determines the fiscal policies of the government.

3) He is the “financial secretary” of the government, he should be able to give an account of what comes in and out

4) She manages Nigeria’s foreign exchange reserves

5) He knows the debt profile of the government and the modality of repayment

6) She manages the revenue allocation by implementing the sharing formula at the end of every month with state and local governments

7) The Finance minister in Nigeria manages the revenue that is generated by the Nigeria Customs Service because the NCS is one of the agencies under his purview.

8) As the supervisor of the economy, the finance minister ensures that all revenue leakages are blocked in order to avoid deficit.

9) He ensures the tax policies are implemented by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Nigeria’s agency that collects taxes on behalf of the federal government

10) He gives accounts of the expenditure of the government.

Incumbent and former Ministers of Finance in Nigeria

Finance minister Years in office Economic Roles
Zainab Ahmed September 2018 – present Nigeria’s Zainab Ahmed was appointed as the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning in 2015, upon resignation of Kemi in September 2018, Buhari deployed her to the Ministry of finance. Finance was merged with Budget and National Planning. She is known to be the first minister to coordinate the highest borrowing in the history of Nigeria’s political system.
Kemi Adeosun 11 November 2015– September 2018 An economist and accountant per excellence, Kemi Adeosun was a former Managing Director of Chapel Hill Denham Management. Premium Times published a story of how she forged her NYSC certificate in 2018. She admitted that indeed someone applied for an exemption letter on her behalf that was later discovered that the letter was forged. She resigned her appointment. And three years after, she went to court to seek court interpretation if she needed NYSC certificate to be qualified as a minister, the court acquitted her on July 7, 2021. But Premium Times, the investigative newspaper that did the story, though its Editor-in-Chief and Chief Operating Officer Musikilu Mojeed said, “… we feel strongly that our story is 100 percent correct and we will continue to stand by our story.”
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala July 2011–May 2015 Years after leaving government, the administration of Goodluck Jonathan returned her as not only the minister of office, but also as the coordinating minister of the Federal Executive Council. She was a “chief minister”.
Olusegun Olutoyin Aganga 2010– June, 2011 He’s a global trade expert and one of the best ministers of finance in Nigeria
Mansur Mukhtar 2009–2010 Appointed by Yar’Adua, sacked by Jonathan, Mansur Mukhtar is a brilliant economist who once worked at the World Bank. He took Islamic Development Bank appointment in Saudi Arabia in 2014 where he serves as the Vice President of country operations
Shamsuddeen Usman 2007–2009 Appointed by the administration of Umar Musa Yar’Adua, Shamsuddeen Usman was the first minister in Nigeria to publicly declare his assets as a public officer
Nenadi Usman 2006–2007 She deputised Okonjo-Iweala and assumed office as a senior minister after the deployment of her boss to the foreign affairs.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala 2003–2006 She was the first woman of minister of finance in Nigeria’s political history. She was instrumental to the cancellation of Nigeria’s debt. She was one of the best Finance Ministers till date. OBJ would later deployed her to the ministry of foreign affairs, she resigned her appointment.
Adamu Ciroma 1999–2003 He was a former governor of Central Bank of Nigeria between 1975 to 1977 during Obasanjo’s military regime in the 70s, on assumption of office in 1999, Obasanjo returned him as his Minister of Finance.
Ismaila Usman 1998–1999 Ismaila Usman was one of the victims of Abacha brutal decisions as he was kicked out of office as the deputy Governor of Nigeria’s apex bank. But after the death of Abacha in July 1998, the military regime of Abdulsalami Abubakar returned him as the minister of finance.
Anthony Ani 1994–1998 From the foreign affairs ministry, Sani Abacha transferred Anthony Ani to the Finance Ministry. His financial excesses were exposed after the death of Abacha.
Kalu Idika Kalu 1993–1994 Seven years after leaving the ministry of finance, Idika Kalu was returned to the same ministry
Aminu Saleh 1993–1993 He served three different military regimes: Obasanjo, Abacha, and IBB


He was instrumental to the creation of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) during Abacha’s regime and was also a member of Vision 2010.

Abubakar Alhaji 1990–1993 He was a long term civil servant at the ministry of finance and planning until his appointment by IBB to succeed Falae.
Olu Falae 1990–1990 Falae was the secretary to the military regime of Babangida from January 1986 to December 1990, and briefly held sway at the Finance ministry for less than 12 months
Chu Okongwu 1986–1990 He was the Minister of National Planning before he was moved to the ministry of finance by IBB to replace Idika Kalu
Kalu Idika Kalu 1985–1986 Idika Kalu was a former commissioner in Imo and an expert in micro- and macro-economic and a former World Bank consultant. He was appointed by the regime of Ibrahim Babangida
Onaolapo Soleye 1984–1985 He was a former commissioner of finance in Ogun State before his appointment by the military junta of Major general Muhammadu Buhari in 1984. The trend of budget deficit financing continued during his period. He coordinated what is now known as Buharinomics
Sunday Essang 1979–1983 He was an Economics lecturer at the University of Calabar before his appointment as Finance Minister by the administration of Shehu Shagari
James Oluleye 1977–1979 He was Major General. Obasanjo appointed him as the Federal minister of finance. He was famous for being a lifesaver for a lot Igbo soldiers during the July 1966 tagged counter coup which was staged and targeted as Igbo soldiers as a retaliation to the January 1966 coup perceived as an Igbo coup again Northern soldiers and politicians.
Asumoh Ete Ekukinam 1976–1977 He was the director of research at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) between 1966 to 1972. Gen Olusegun Obasanjo would later appoint him as the minister of finance, the position he held till 1977.
Shehu Shagari 1971–1975 Before his appointment as a successor to Awolowo at the ministry of finance, Shehu Shagari was at a time a Federal Minister for Works and executed many important projects in Lagos including the famous Eko Bridge in Lagos, Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT) at the time.

He also held several other political offices and undertake notable projects as head of several ministries. He would later win an election under the National Party of Nigeria (NPN). He was in power from October 1, 1979 till December 31, 1983, Buhari sacked his government.

Obafemi Awolowo 1967–1971 He’s a self-made Yoruba farmer in the present-day Ogun State. Before getting a federal appointment during the military regime of Yakubu Gowon, he was the first premier of the Western region.

Awolowo was the most historic Minister of Finance considering the fact that he was in charge of Nigeria’s finance during the Civil War. It was rumoured that Awolowo’s advice and recommendation to Gowon made Ojukwu, the leader of the now-defunct Biafra Republic surrender to the federal government super power. It was alleged that Awolowo prevailed over Gowon to change Nigeria’s currency and blocked food supplies to the Eastern region to starve the Biafran land.

But one of the staunch supporters of Awolowo who followed the event of the 1970s closely, Chief Ayo Adebanjo in an interview published by The Vanguard Newspaper on August 25, 2019, said it was part of the falsehood to make the east hate the Yoruba. He stated that Awolowo prevailed on both sides to avoid going into war.

He also boldly stated that Awolowo (as the finance minister) kept the “all the allocations and allowances meant for the Eastern Region” during the was and handed it over to the region after the war. “It is on record,” Adebanjo said.

Festus Okotie-Eboh 1960–1966 He was the most flamboyant Finance minister ever in the history of Nigerian politics. Before his appointment as a minister, Festus Okotie-Eboh was elected as the treasurer of the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) in 1954. He was also at the House of Representatives through which he was nominated as Labour and Welfare minister in the year that followed and two years later he was appointed as the first Minister of Finance in Nigeria by the government of Tafawa Balewa, the position he held till January 15, 1966, when he was assassinated along with Balewa and other prominent politicians in a military coup.

Okotie-Eboh was famous for his full Itshekiri regalia at public functions with two maidens carrying his flowing gown.

Wrapping up:

Of all the 24 Finance ministers Nigeria has produced since independence, my favourite among them are: 1) Obafemi Awolowo: for managing Nigeria’s economy during the civil war; 2) Anthony Ani: for deploying practical economic policies to during the brutal days of Abacha, 3) Adamu Ciroma: for using her CBN knowledge to guide the administration of Olusegun, and 4) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala: for her efforts at persuading rich western countries and international creditors to eradicate $31 bn of debts owed by Nigeria


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