…says his parents built a legacy for him and his siblings

By Ebunoluwa SESSOU

With his 24 years of experience as a multidisciplinary professional spanning Corporate & Investment Banking, Fiscal & Macroeconomic Policy, Public Financial Management, Accounting, Law, Civil Litigation, Legislative Drafting, Taxation, Youth Leadership & Sustainable Global Development in Nigeria, South Africa and the United Kingdom, Dr Oyebode Oyetunde LL.B., PhD in this interview speaks on how he learned the importance of uprightness, conservativeness and hard work as tools to achieving success amidst challenges in life. Excerpt

Early life and experiences

I was born and raised in Plateau State, Jos, one of the Northern parts of Nigeria. My parents, Hon. Justice M.O. Oyetunde and Hon. Justice R.G. Oyetunde, had a successful legal practice in Jos, which served clients across Northern Nigeria. Later, my father and mother were appointed as Judges in the Plateau and Oyo State Judiciaries. It was my parents that set me on the path of Law, Accounting, Taxation, Development Economics, Fiscal Policy, Banking and Finance.

My father retired from the Plateau State Judiciary as the Most Senior Judge, and my mother retired as the Acting Chief Judge from the Oyo State Judiciary. She was the first lady jurist to hold that position in the State’s history. My parents were hardworking and upright Jurists who over their decades of service to the Plateau State and Oyo State jurisdictions, respectively, established an incredible reputation and legacy for my siblings and I to follow.

Following their exceptional example, all six of their children went on to qualify as Barristers and Solicitors of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. From our parents, we learned the importance of being upright, commitment, conservativeness and hard work.

There is no success without challenges, tell us about it and how you crushed those challenges

I started out my career as a Lawyer; I also achieved professional accounting qualifications with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) simultaneously. Qualifying as a Chartered Accountant with ICAN was a particularly challenging endeavour as Nigerian lawyers are notoriously disinclined to specializing in quantitative professions, but for the few that have branched out from law into finance, it has proved to be an exceptional competency.

My progression into the Accounting Profession commenced during the time of the troubles of, and after, June 12, 1993.

During the frequent ASUU strikes, and with the encouragement of my parents, I progressed with the ICAN professional exams to qualify as an Accounting Technician (between 1994 – 1998) and Chartered Accountant (between 2002 – 2011).

I learned the wisdom of being a ‘Silent Achiever’ who quietly keeps on overcoming challenges till success is attained.

Incidentally, I subsequently qualified as an Associate, ACTI of the Chartered Institute of Taxation, CITN, as taxation has always been a field of great academic and professional interest to me. So, it has been more about slow and steady progress than trying to achieve all my aspirations in a single sprint.

I have a story to tell about myself and the story is about the Hare in Aesop’s Fable: The Tortoise and the Hare. Hare was a gifted sprinter and started his race early. But he became overconfident and complacent, which led to his losing the race to the Tortoise. I have tried to be more like the Tortoise: slow and steady.

A good example is qualifying as an Accounting Technician and Chartered Accountant with ICAN, while studying law at the University of Lagos.  Accordingly, one had to significantly outperform the national average to progress to the next stage.

As an Executive Director for Nigeria on the Board of African Development Bank in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire, what experience worked for you and what were your outstanding breakthroughs?

I am humbled to be an Executive Director (Nigeria) on the Board at the African Development Bank in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire. A bank with a goal to ensure endurable fiscal advancement and collective growth in its regional member countries (RMCs), hereby, actively working towards poverty reduction.

Working at the Presidential Villa also helped to get me where I am today as ED. It has been an intriguing experience in the over two and a half decades from my early career.

I worked closely with the Ministries of Finance, Budget and National Planning, often liaising closely with successive Permanent Secretaries, including: Mrs. Fatima Mede, Alhaji Mahmoud Isa-Dutse (more recently, the Executive Director for Nigeria on the Board of the Islamic Development Bank), the late Alhaji Haruna Mohammed, Dr. Mohammed Dikwa, M.N.I., Alhaji Aliyu Ahmed, Alhaji Shehu Shinkafi and the late Mr. Babatunde Lawal.

I remain a grateful beneficiary of the boundless wisdom, leadership and experience of these seasoned and exceptional civil servants.

I represented the Office of the Chief of Staff to Mr. President on various councils and committees, including the Economic Management Team, chaired by His Excellency, the Vice President; National Economic Council (NEC), also chaired by the Vice President; and Cash Management Committee, Drafting Committee for the Strategic Implementation Plan for the 2016 Budget, Technical Committees of the Economic Recovery & Growth Plan (ERGP), the ERGP Macroeconomic Modeling Committee & other Committees chaired by the Ministers responsible for Finance, Budget and National Planning.

After the demise of the former Chief of Staff, I was retained by his Successor-in-Office, His Excellency, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, C.F.R. Under Prof. Ibrahim Gambari’s leadership, I continued to serve in all my previous capacities until my recent appointment, by President Muhammadu Buhari, as the Executive Director for Nigeria on the Board of the African Development Bank in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire.

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I am grateful to God for my experiences which have all been part of why I am where I am today.

I look forward to serving Nigeria further in my new role by supporting Dr. Akinwumi Adesina as the first Nigerian President in the Bank’s history and contributing to the good governance of the Bank’s activities, complexes and operations as these contribute to the significant and sustainable development of our Continent, its Countries, Communities and Citizens.

Would you say your experience in the private sector paid off too?

Well, I would rather say, my parents taught me life and how to manage positions. Their resilience as Justices helped shape my life.

Prior to being appointed as the SSA to Mr. President on Finance & Fiscal Policy, and SA to the Hon. Minister of Finance, Budget & National Planning on Fiscal & Macroeconomic Policy, I led Standard Bank Group’s Structured Finance franchise in West Africa, providing structuring support for client and proprietary transactions in Nigeria, Ghana, Cote D’Ivoire, Zambia and other franchise presence countries.

Prior to joining the Standard Bank Group, I worked in the Federal Ministry of Finance in Abuja, providing technical support in macroeconomic / fiscal policy, taxation and other aspects of public financial management to the Director-General of the Budget Office and senior Finance Ministry officials including successive Ministers of Finance, Permanent Secretaries and the Accountant-Generals of the Federation, in various aspects of the Federal Budget preparation, passage, monitoring and implementation process.

Earlier in my career as a lawyer, I advised on numerous projects and corporate finance, commercial law and tax matters for oil majors, telecommunication firms, manufacturing groups and banks in Nigeria. I have also worked as a Tax Researcher with the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) in London, United Kingdom on several technical tax research projects, and I have published technical papers in local and international periodicals.

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