In 2020, Dr Kingsley Obiora became the youngest person to head Nigeria’s economic policy directorate when he was appointed Deputy Governor in charge of the Economic Policy Directorate of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). At 43 years old, Obiora succeeded Professor Joseph Nnanna and became the second South-southerner to hold the position since Nigeria’s independence.
Interestingly, this is only one of the records Dr Obiora has broken in his academic and career trajectories. He had earlier brought his economic knowledge and experience to bear at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and served as an adviser to three Nigerian Presidents and a CBN Governor.
Wholly-trained in Nigeria: Kingsley Isitua Obiora attended the University of Benin where he bagged his first degree in Economics And Statistics (or Ecostats as students fondly call it). At his graduation from the institution, he was named the overall best-graduating student in 1999. From there, he proceeded to the University of Ibadan for his master’s degree in Economics.
Once again, he set a record by becoming the first to get a distinction in that programme in over 20 years. He also got the overall best-graduating student award.
Soon after, Obiora got a scholarship from the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) to pursue his Doctoral degree. He enrolled for a PhD in Economics, specialising in monetary and international economics and was done with it by the age of 31.
A career with the IMF: Upon the completion of his doctoral degree in 2007, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) selected him through the globally-competitive “Economist Program”. Before this time, IMF had only recruited Africans from Western universities such as MIT, Yale, Oxford, Harvard and Cambridge. With this, Obiora became the first African to be recruited directly from an African university by the Bretton Woods institution and has been closely involved in the day-to-day running, while representing the interests of 23 African countries.
He worked in the European Department as well as the Strategy, Policy, and Review Department, carrying out extensive work on exchange rate assessment, debt sustainability analyses, decoupling and spillovers, real sector analyses, as well as several reviews of Financial Sector Assessments. He has worked in various countries across Asia as well.
He served as an Alternate Executive Director at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the Africa Group One Constituency, Washington D.C., United States of America. He also worked at the West African Monetary Institute in Accra, Ghana, and the Centre for Econometric and Allied Research at the University of Ibadan.
Answering the nation’s call: Throughout his career, Kingsley Obiora has served as a Special Adviser under three Nigerian Presidents, taking a break from his IMF career to answer the nation’s calls. Under Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, he contributed to the modelling and estimation of the macroeconomic framework for Nigeria’s National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS) II programme.
Obiora worked with the Centre for Econometric and Allied Research (CEAR) between 2003 and 2006 and played a huge part in the development of an econometric forecasting model for Policy analyses for Nigeria’s National Planning Commission.
While on secondment from the IMF, Dr Obiora also served as technical adviser to the National Economic Management Team and special assistant to the chief economic adviser to former president Goodluck Jonathan from 2011 to 2014, and the former president had commended the Economist for greatly impacting positively on the conception and execution” of his administration’s economic reforms.
He helped shaped economic policies on energy subsidies, power sector reform, measurement of job creation, the architecture of development financing, diversification of the economy, oil price benchmarking in the budgetary process, a regulatory framework for doing business, port reform, and asset-based economic mapping and modelling.
Under President Muhammadu Buhari, he led the team that built the macroeconomic framework for the administration’s Economic Reform and Growth Plan (ERGP), which has been the central policy document for the current government. He was also a special adviser on economic matters to the CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele, from June 2014 to July 2018, and brought his international economic experience to bear in helping the bank understand and deal with spillovers from the external shocks emanating from the significant drop in global oil prices.
Other works and engagements: Obiora is the author and co-author of tens of academic papers which have been published and presented across the world. There are also the IMF working policy papers, including Decoupling from the East Toward the West. Analyses of Spillovers to the Baltic Countries, which was published by the IMF and shared globally in 2009. One of his IMF policy papers, Do Trading Partners Still Matter for Nigeria’s Growth? A Contribution to the Debate on Decoupling and Spillovers was principally about Nigeria in the context of the 2008/2009 global crisis.
In addition to being the Deputy Governor in charge of Economic Policy at the Central Bank of Nigeria, He represents the apex bank on the board of FMDQ Group PLC. Obiora is equally the Chairman of the Africa Finance Corporation.
We have them there and Nigeria is still in shambles,
If we have a highly qualified person like this in the CBN and Nigeria economy is still in shamble, standing on half leg, something is definitely wrong somewhere.