Night of glamour as ex-DMO boss, Nwankwo, bows out
From Uche Usim, Abuja
The Ladi Kwali Hall of the Abuja Sheraton Hotel was uniquely lit on the night of June 29, 2017.
It was a day earmarked to celebrate Dr. Abraham Nwankwo, the retiring director-general of the Debt Management Office (DMO).
Dignitaries, friends, family and associates from within and outside the country gathered in their numbers to bid him farewell as he quit the establishment where he held sway for 10 uninterrupted years.
From economic experts, politicians to the academia, the roll call was endless.
The occasion was three events rolled into one. It featured a national roundtable on inflation, the presentation of a book, “Inflation and Structured Aggregate of Output,” written by the celebrator, Nwankwo, and a colourful farewell party.
Special Assistant to the President on Economic Matters, Adeyemi Dipeolu, who represented the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, set the ball rolling.
He described the tenure of the ex-DMO boss as very successful and rewarding for the country.
He said: “Dr. Nwankwo made visible and laudable commitments to national development. He was diligent and dynamic in the discharge of his duties. He paid close attention to debt sustainability. He analysed economic data very well.
“We saw how he handled the Eurobond project. It was a success. He also secured debt relief for the country. He is versatile and he certainly helped in the recovery stolen assets in Switzerland.
“He gave candid advice to the government and backed his views with thorough analysis. The Sukuk bond, diaspora bond and other successful investments were recorded under his watch. Today, our policy decisions are guided with accurate figures, unlike before when we did not even know what we owed.
“We now know our debt to GDP ratio. We are now spending to come out of recession. In doing this, we borrowed from multilateral lenders at very low interest rates just to keep our engines running. A lot was achieved under his watch. We wish him success in his future endeavours,” Dipeolu said.
In her remarks, Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, who was the chief host of the event, went down memory lane, recollecting her first encounter with Nwankwo.
“I met him six years ago. I had come to DMO for something and he bluntly told me no, that we didn’t qualify for the loan, judging from the papers I presented. I spoke extensively but he did not budge.
“One thing you cannot take away from him is that he is real. He is a thoroughbred professional. He is an incredibly forthright man. He does not fear to say his mind.
“We will miss him. He steered DMO to the path of progress. He helped Nigeria raise money in tough markets. The last Eurobond programme, he took it passionately. I can go on and on. My joy is that he left capable people in DMO to take over from where he left off,” she said.
Other speakers at the event including the former Anambra State Governor, Peter Obi spoke glowingly of the ex-DMO boss.
According to them, he sustained transparency and accountability in the management of public debt information and data by ensuring unfettered access to the public data statistics and through regular engagements with various stakeholders in both the public and private sectors.
They also extolled him for working hard to provide the 36 States with the template of public debt management law such that 23 states have so far passed either the Public Debt Management or the Fiscal Responsibility Laws.
At the book presentation, Prof Mike Obadan (the book reviewer) recommended the book for a plethora of institutions.
“It is a well-researched book. It will enrich economists, students, bankers, data analysts and so on”, he noted. Other dignitaries at the book launch praised Dr Abraham Nwankwo for the effort, even as they described him as a man of many parts who perfectly blends social science with the arts; following several written plays to his credit.
Some of guests that graced the occasion include: the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma; former Cross River State Governor, Donald Duke; former Minister of Health, Prof A.B.C Nwosu; Senator Shehu Sani from Kaduna State; Chief Jim Nwobodo; the Executive Secretary of the Pensions Administration Transition Directorate (PTAD), Sharon Ikeazor; the former Minister of Interior, Capt Emmanuel Iheanacho and the Managing Director of Financial Derivatives, Bismark Rewane who was represented by Niyi Adebayo; among others.