Tinubu’s Cabinet: The Top 10 Round Pegs in Round Holes – WALE EDUN

WALE EDUN – (Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy)

Olawale Edun’s appointment as a minister did not come as a surprise to followers of President Bola Tinubu. Less surprising still is Edun’s assignment as minister of finance and coordinating minister for the economy.

Long before Tinubu unveiled his ministerial nominees following his presidential election victory, informed speculations had tipped Edun for the appointment and posting. This is on account of Edun’s background in economics, public finance, international finance, merchant banking and corporate finance at both national and international levels. His long standing close working relationship with Tinubu, at official and unofficial levels, as his economic policy adviser was an icing on the cake.

Apart from being a classical example of putting a round peg in a round hole, Edu’s appointment is another proof of Tinubu’s reputation as a leader with a nose for matching professionals with commensurate responsibilities. He identifies go-getting young professionals, mentor and deploying them to tasks in which they produce outstanding results. Once they prove themselves, Tinubu keeps them around himself and helps move them to positions of higher responsibility.

That is the story of Wale Edun, the new minister of finance and coordinating minister for the economy.

 In 1999, Governor Tinubu appointed Edun as his finance Commissioner in Lagos state where he became one of the most outstanding managers of the state’s finance and economy. Apparently in acknowledgement of his good works, Tinubu recommended Edun, alongside Yemi Cardoso and Yemi Osinbajo, to Muhammadu Buhari for appointment as running mate in 2015. The trio had worked as commissioners appointed by Tinubu when he was Lagos state Governor between 1999 and 2007. Buhari went for Osinbajo. Although Edun was, thereafter, said to be nominated by Tinubu for ministerial appointment by Buhari, the move did not sail through.

Since then, Edun has been performing serveral other adhoc tasks for Tinubu in the build-up to the latter’s presidency. He has been one of Tinubu’s closest advisers and a member of his economic team that helped prepare his election manifesto. He was nominated by Tinubu as a member of the Presidential Transition Council (PTC) after his declaration as winner of the 2023 presidential elections.

Edun’s appointment as minister in charge of finance and economy was, therefore, a seamless transition from being a personal adviser to the position of an official presidential pointman in the same field.

Before Edun was appointed minister, President Tinubu had introduced two of the boldest economic reforms that Nigeria has seen in years. They include scrapping of the popular but costly petrol subsidy and unification of the existing multiple exchange rates, weakening the Naira to record lows.

The reforms are designed to kick-start growth but inflation has soared, worsening Nigeria’s cost of living crisis and posing a big headache for Tinubu and his new ministers. Curing that headache and guiding the reforms towards achieving the intended outcomes are the new minister’s primary responsibility, among others.

Olawale Edun, popularly known as Wale Edun, holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of London and a Master’s degree in Economics from the University of Sussex, England.

Edun had a tremendous career in the financial sector with over twenty-five years of experience in merchant banking, corporate finance, economics and international finance at national and international levels. He served as the Head of Treasury and Deputy Head of Corporate Finance at Chase Merchant Bank and he was in charge of the bank’s Treasury and Money Market activities with major responsibility for Capital Market and Financial Advisory operations on behalf of the local subsidiaries and affiliates of major multinational companies.

During his time at Chase, he gained international experience while on secondment to the Wall Street firms of Lehman Brothers and Chase Manhattan Capital Markets Corporation in New York, USA. From 1980 to 1986, he worked at Chase Merchant Bank (later Continental) in Lagos.

Edun joined the World Bank/IFC in Washington DC, US through the elite Young Professionals programme in September 1986. At the World Bank, he worked on economic and financial packages for several countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, including the Dominican Republic and Trinidad and Tobago as well as Indonesia and India in the Far East.

He has been the Chairman of Chapel Hill Denham Group since March 2008. In 1989, he returned to Nigeria as Co-Founder and Executive Director of Stanbic IBTC Plc (formerly Investment Banking & Trust Company Limited). In 1994, he founded Denham Management Limited. He also sits on the Board of a number of other companies. In 1999, he was appointed as Commissioner for Finance in Lagos State, a position he held for an unprecedented two terms under Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

He is a director of several other private businesses; and Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Ogoni Trust Fund for the environmental Clean-up of Ogoniland in the Niger Delta of Nigeria. 

Edun is also an International Trustee of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation and Chairman of Lagos Boxing Hall of Fame, a registered non-profit youth development organization that runs amateur boxing in Lagos in conjunction with the Lagos Amateur Boxing Association.

Edun has also been involved in several acts of Philanthropy. He is the Chairman of Livewell Initiative, a health sector Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) and a Trustee of Sisters Unite for Children, an NGO focused on helping children in need.

The finance minister is married to Amy Adwoa Edun (née Appiah) who is a Ghanian. One of his sons, Adetomiwa Edun, is an actor in the UK movie industry. Another, Tobi Edun, is married to Folake Fajemirokun, daughter of Chief Oladele Fajemirokun, successful business magnate, entrepreneur, investor, venture capitalist, philanthropist and Chairman of Xerox Company.