Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, the immediate past governor of Kebbi state, was named as the minister of budget and economic planning by President Bola Tinubu on Wednesday, August 16.
The announcement sent shock waves across the Nigerian financial community as Bagudu has yet to be an active player in the sector.
Although, Bagudu holds a BSc in Economics, MSc in Economics and an M.A. in International Affairs; he is more of a politician than an economic or international affairs expert.
Instead, the former governor and senator is known for associating with Late General Sani Abacha.
Bagudu featured prominently in Panama Papers, a giant leak of more than 11.5 million financial and legal records, exposing a system that enables crime, corruption and wrongdoing, hidden by secretive offshore.
The money-laundering operations Bagudu ran on behalf of Abacha are well-documented in suits filed in the U.S. and the Bailiwick of Jersey, a British Crown dependency in the Channel Islands.
Bagudu had since 2003 admitted to financial irregularities when he agreed to return about $163 million to Nigeria to avoid extradition to Jersey from the U.S.
Abu Najakku, a public affairs commentator, had warned Tinubu to be wary of Bagudu, but the president ignored it.
Najakku wrote in an open letter to the president:
”I know Atiku Bagudu very well. He’s a smooth-talking, endlessly smiling dude with an army of social media hirelings.
”But Bagudu is an astonishingly incompetent, notoriously unreliable and fearfully unsafe hand that must not be given any ‘important role’ in your administration.
”Any mistake made in placing Bagudu in our financial, economic, trade or oil industry will accelerate the destruction of what remains of this beleaguered economy.”
Saidu Imran, an automotive technician, wrote on Twitter after Bagudu’s appointment:
”Minister of Budget and Economic Planning. That very department that oversees budget padding is going to be headed by Abacha’s bagman. Mr. Atiku Bagudu.
”They have a way of rewarding criminality with more criminality in this country.”