PROFILE: Taminu Yakubu, the Yar’Adua confidant who’ll head Nigeria’s budget office

On June 13, the presidency announced President Bola Tinubu’s appointment of Tanimu Yakubu as the director-general of the budget office of the federation.

The appointment follows the expiration of the tenure of Ben Akabueze who has been in the position since 2016.

According to a statement by Ajuri Ngelale, the presidential spokesperson, Tinubu expects the new director-general to further enhance the provision of efficient and qualitative budget functions, with a view to promoting fiscal sustainability, transparency, and accountability in public finance management for national development.



Yakubu joins Tinubu’s administration with relevant experience from the banking and finance sector. Born on April 30, 1961, in Katsina state, he holds a master of business administration (MBA) degree in finance from Wagner College, New York, in 1986 and a bachelor of science (BSc) degree in economics in 1984 from the same university.

He is also the founding president of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) — a powerful students’ union bringing together Nigerian students both within the country and across the diaspora. In 2019, Yakubu passed the fiduciary awareness certification test (FACT) of the corporate governance rating system (CGRS).



Yakubu’s public service history cannot be complete without a mention of his appointment as the deputy chief of staff and chief economic adviser to ex-President Umar Musa Yar’Adua from 2007 to 2010. He was believed to be the most powerful political appointee in Yar’Adua’s government.

As the chief economic adviser, he developed the policies and recommendations that convinced the federal government to establish Nigeria’s first sovereign wealth fund (SWF).

He played a crucial role in resolving the Niger Delta crisis, which significantly increased the country’s crude oil production by 900,000 barrels per day (bpd).

Yakubu was also the managing director and chief executive officer of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FCMB) during former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration from 2003 to 2007, and served as commissioner of finance, budget, and economic planning in Katsina state from 1999 to 2003.


In addition, he was appointed to head of the policy directorate of the Buhari Campaign Organisation in 2014 alongside other members Olawale Edun (the current minister of finance) and Yemi Cardoso (the current central bank governor).


Yakubu also gained experience in several private-sector organisations, including Icon Limited (merchant bankers), where he was involved in the research and development department as well as the capital issues and investment division — providing financial advisory services.

Additionally, he served as the chief economist and principal investment adviser at Afri-Projects Consortium (APC).


In 2015, Yakubu was appointed as a non-executive director of Oando PLC.



Yakubu hardly spoke to the media or addressed allegations. He was accused of stalling the power projects initiated by Obasanjo because he wanted to bring in new contractors.

He was also accused of stalling the $8.3 billion railway modernisation contract agreed with China Civil Engineering and Construction Company by Obasanjo in 2006, allegedly because he wanted to bring in his own contractors.


The delay in renewing or renegotiating the oil mining licences of Shell and other IOCs in 2009 was also attributed to him, allegedly because he had found some Chinese partners who were offering Nigeria an advance payment of $60 billion for the oil blocks. Yakubu never responded to any of these allegations.

In his book, ‘My Watch, Obasanjo described Yakubu as a member of the Yar’Adua ‘cabal’ who wanted to settle personal scores with him. The former president wrote: “At first, it was the same men now in the corridors of power, like Tanimu Yakubu Kurfi and Baba Kingibe, who suddenly remembered ‘the evil’ I had done them in the past, which they wanted to avenge. For Tanimu, whom I appointed Managing Director of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria on the recommendation of then Governor Umaru Yar’Adua, my offence was that I did not appoint him to run and handle the Yar’Adua Presidential Campaign and manage the campaign fund. From what I had seen of his performance at the Federal Mortgage Bank, I would not have made or allowed such an appointment.”


Nasir el-Rufai, a former Kaduna governor, once commented tersely on Yakubu in an essay, titled ‘Yar’Adua: Great Expectation, Disappointing Outcome’, which he wrote in May 2009 as part of his course requirements at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government where he did a master’s programme in public policy.

El-Rufai described him as one of the Katsina professionals who made money from the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) under Buhari.

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