Nigeria’s Tinubu swears in ministers, economy main concern

Nigerian President Bola Tinubu inaugurated his cabinet ministers on Monday, almost three months after assuming office.

The newly appointed cabinet will need to address sluggish economic growth, stemming from a previous oil price collapse that undermined the value of the naira currency (NGN=D1), reduced government income, and led to increased inflation.

The government is also tasked with addressing significant challenges such as widespread crude oil theft, security concerns within the country, and the task of attracting back foreign investors who left when currency controls were implemented in 2016.

Tinubu, aged 71 and also serving as the chairman of the regional bloc ECOWAS, is collaborating with fellow heads of state in West Africa to address the ongoing crisis in Niger, where a military junta has taken control.

Assuming office on May 29, Tinubu secured victory in a contested presidential election held in February, a result that is currently under legal challenge by his primary opponents.

Undertaking some of the most ambitious reforms witnessed in Nigeria in years, he has eliminated a widely-used yet expensive petrol subsidy and dismantled currency exchange restrictions leading to the depreciation of the naira to unprecedented levels.

The reforms represent a risky bet aimed at jumpstarting economic growth, but they have resulted in a surge in inflation, exacerbating the already challenging cost of living situation for Nigeria, the continent’s most populous nation.

At 71 years of age, Tinubu has selected Olawale Edun, a former investment banker, to serve as the finance minister and coordinating minister for the economy. He has also designated Heineken Lokpobiri as the junior minister of petroleum and appointed Ekperipe Ekpo as the junior minister of gas resources.

A main petroleum minister has yet to be appointed, spokesman Ajuri Ngelale said.

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