Past Ministers of Finance in Nigeria from 1960 To Date

Last updated on January 25th, 2023 at 08:11 pm

From 1960 to date, Nigeria has produced 24 ministers of finance. And Nigeria’s first Minister of Finance was Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh.

The flamboyant Okotie-Eboh made the office of the minister of finance 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 presentations 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 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 1999 invited Adamu Ciroma who was a former 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

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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.

List of Nigerian finance ministers since independence

Finance ministerYears in office
Zainab AhmedSeptember 2018 – present
Kemi Adeosun11 November 2015– September 2018
Ngozi Okonjo-IwealaJuly 2011–May 2015
Olusegun Olutoyin Aganga2010– June, 2011
Mansur Mukhtar2009–2010
Shamsuddeen Usman2007–2009
Nenadi Usman2006–2007
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala2003–2006
Adamu Ciroma1999–2003
Ismaila Usman1998–1999
Anthony Ani1994–1998
Kalu Idika Kalu1993–1994
Aminu Saleh1993–1993
Abubakar Alhaji1990–1993
Olu Falae1990–1990
Chu Okongwu1986–1990
Kalu Idika Kalu1985–1986
Onaolapo Soleye1984–1985
Sunday Essang1979–1983
James Oluleye1977–1979
Asumoh Ete Ekukinam1976–1977
Shehu Shagari1971–1975
Obafemi Awolowo1967–1971
Festus Okotie-Eboh1960–1966

Impact of past finance ministers on the Nigerian economy

1) 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.

Okotie-Eboh held his position till January 15, 1966, when he was assassinated along with Balewa and other prominent politicians in Nigeria’s first military coup.

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

2) 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 (Biafra War).

It was rumoured that Awolowo’s advice and recommendation to Gowon reduced the power of Ojukwu, the leader of the now-defunct Biafra Republic.

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 to war.

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

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3) 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 undertook notable projects as head of several ministries.

He would later win an election under the National Party of Nigeria (NPN). Shehu Shagari was in power from October 1, 1979, till December 31, 1983, Buhari sacked his government

4) Asumoh Ete Ekukinam (1976–1977)

Asumoh Ete Ekikinam 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, a position he held till 1977.

5) James Oluleye (1977–1979)

James Oluleye was Major General. Obasanjo appointed him as the Federal minister of finance.

He was famous for being a lifesaver for a lot of Igbo soldiers during the July 1966 tagged counter-coup which was staged and targeted Igbo soldiers as a retaliation to the January 1966 coup perceived as an Igbo coup again Northern soldiers and politicians.

6) Sunday Essang (1979–1983)

Sunday Essang was an Economics lecturer at the University of Calabar before his appointment as Finance Minister by the administration of Shehu Shagari.

7) Onaolapo Soleye (1984–1985)

Onaolapo Soleye 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

8) Kalu Idika Kalu (1985–1986)

Idika Kalu was a former commissioner in Imo and an expert in micro- and macro-economics and a former World Bank consultant. He was appointed by the regime of Ibrahim Babangida.

9) 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

10) 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.

11) 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.

12) Aminu Saleh (1993–1993)

He served three different military regimes: Obasanjo, Abacha, and IBB

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

13) Kalu Idika Kalu (1993–1994)

Seven years after leaving the ministry of finance, Idika Kalu was returned to the same ministry

14) 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.

15) Ismaila Usman (1998–1999)

Ismaila Usman was one of the victims of Abacha’s brutal decisions as he was kicked out of office as the deputy Governor of Nigeria’s apex bank.

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But after the death of Abacha in July 1998, the military regime of Abdulsalami Abubakar returned him as the minister of finance.

16) Adamu Ciroma (1999–2003)

He was a former governor of the 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.

17) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (2003–2006)

Okonjo-Iweala was the first woman minister of finance in Nigeria’s political history. She was instrumental in the cancellation of Nigeria’s debt.

She was one of the best Finance Ministers to date. OBJ would later deploy her to the ministry of foreign affairs, she resigned from her appointment.

18) Nenadi Usman (2006–2007)

She deputised Okonjo-Iweala and assumed office as a senior minister after the deployment of her boss to foreign affairs.

19) 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

20) Mansur Mukhtar (2009–2010)

Appointed by Yar’Adua, and sacked by Jonathan, Mansur Mukhtar is a brilliant economist who once worked at the World Bank.

He took an Islamic Development Bank appointment in Saudi Arabia in 2014 where he serves as the Vice President of country operations.

21) Olusegun Olutoyin Aganga (2010– June, 2011)

He’s a global trade expert and one of the best ministers of finance in Nigeria

22) 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”.

23) 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 about how she forged her NYSC certificate in 2018. She admitted that indeed someone applied for an exemption letter on her behalf and that was later discovered that the letter was forged.

Kemi Adeosun resigned from her appointment and justified her resignation. And three years after, she went to court to seek court interpretation if she needed an 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, through its Editor-in-Chief and Chief Operating Officer Musikilu Mojeed said, “… we feel strongly that our story is 100 per cent correct and we will continue to stand by our story.”

24) Zainab Ahmed (September 2018 – present)

Zainab Ahmed is the current Nigerian finance minister. She was appointed as the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning in 2015, upon the 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.

Conclusion:

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 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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