By Abimbola Johnson
THE economy of Nigeria is set to be exposed to a fresh chapter of growth and development that will be as challenging as it will be rewarding with the appointment of Ms. Patience Oniha as the new Director-General of the Debt Management Office (DMO), the agency of government put in place to oversee and manage public debt.
Oniha began her career at Icon Limited Merchant Bankers in 1986, during which time she rose to the position of a Manager, before joining First Securities Discount House Limited (now FSDH Merchant Bank Ltd.) as a pioneer staff in 1992. She rose to the position of General Manager/Director before joining Ecobank Nigeria Limited in 2000. Between 2004 – 2008, Ms. Oniha was in Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria Ltd. as a General Manager.
After a fulfilling career in the banking sector spanning over 22 years, she left after acquiring skills in credit, marketing, treasury and investment banking. Ms. Oniha made a career move to the public sector when she joined the DMO in 2008 as Director, Market Development Department. In this capacity, Oniha brought her banking experience to bear on various aspects of the DMO’s activities.
Among her achievements during her eight years at the DMO was the introduction of Benchmark Bonds to develop the domestic bond market to improve liquidity and to create a sovereign yield curve which created opportunities for state governments, multilaterals and corporates to raise long term funds. This drive was to create a debt capital market where the public and private sectors can access long term funds to finance Nigeria’s growth and development. For sustainable development of the debt capital market, she actively engaged with local and foreign investors, regu lators and other stakeholders to develop a large and diversified investor base for FGN Securities and Bonds issued by other borrowers.
The new DMO boss recorded quite a number of “firsts” during her time in DMO as she managed the successful issuance of Nigeria’s debut USD500 million Eurobond in January 2011. The debut Eurobond opened a new source of funding for the Federal Government and Corporate entities. Thus, it was not a surprise when in 2013, she also managed the issuance of the dual-tranche USD1 billion Eurobond which was subscribed to the tune of about 400%.
Oniha’s performance at the DMO between 2008 and 2015 is a testament to her hard work and dedication towards the betterment of Nigeria. Her emergence as Director-General, Debt Management Office, speaks volume of the depth of her professional knowledge, integrity, focus and boldness in tackling emerging financial issues coupled with her unassuming approach in dealing with issues and people- qualities needed to provide critical leadership to a critical agency in a period where growth and development need to be achieved in spite of economic challenges facing the country.
Johnson wrote in from Channelkoos.com