By Felix Onuah
ABUJA (Reuters) -Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu appointed banker Olawale Edun as minister of finance and coordinating minister of the economy as he seeks to recalibrate Africa’s biggest economy, the president’s spokesman said on Wednesday.
Edun, 62, is one of Tinubu’s closest advisers and a member of his economic team that helped prepare his election manifesto. He had long been tipped to become finance minister in Africa’s biggest economy. Prior to Wednesday’s appointment, Edun was special adviser to Tinubu on monetary policy.
Tinubu won a disputed February presidential election, which is being challenged by his main opponents in court.
He has embarked on some of the boldest reforms that Nigeria has seen in years, including scrapping a popular but costly petrol subsidy and removing exchange rate restrictions. The naira has weakened to record lows.
The reforms are a gamble to try to kick-start growth but inflation has soared, worsening a cost of living crisis for Africa’s most populous nation, a big headache for Tinubu and his new ministers.
Nigeria’s Senate cleared the nominees last week, paving the way for their swearing-in next Monday, the government said in a statement.
Spokesman Ajuri Ngelale said a main petroleum minister had yet to be appointed but Tinubu appointed Heineken Lokpobiri as junior minister of petroleum and Ekperipe Ekpo as junior minister of gas resources.
The president, with 45-cabinet members, chose Mohammed Badaru as defence minister and Yusuf Tuggar as foreign affairs minister. Both will take on the task of working with regional bloc ECOWAS to find a solution to the crisis in Niger where a military junta has seized power.
Nigeria’s inflation rose to an 18-year high in July. The country also faces widespread insecurity, mounting debt burden, high unemployment and slow growth which has stoked tension among the population already struggling with a high cost of living.
(Reporting by Felix Onuah; Writing by Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by Chris Reese, Diane Craft and David Gregorio)