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Adewale Adeyemo
Adewale “Wally” Adeyemo /Photo: Peterson Institute for International Economics

Biden appoints Nigerian-American US Deputy Treasury Secretary

US President-elect Joe Biden on Monday formally appointed Nigerian-born Adewale ‘Wally’ Adeyemo as the Deputy Treasury Secretary, which is the description of the country’s deputy finance minister.

The appointment came as part of Biden’s unveiling of his economic team, where he highlighted the historic nature of some of his nominations.

Adeyemo (39), who served the US government under President Barack Obama as the Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics, would be the first African-American to occupy that position.

Adeyemo, who is also a senior advisor to an American investment management corporation, Black Rock, with assets management worth 6.52 trillion USD, would become the first Nigerian-born American to take up such a high-level cabinet position in the US government.

Nigerians have been excitedly reacting to the appointment of Adeyemo, who was born in Nigeria and raised in Southern California.

Chairman/Chief Executive Officers of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa, has congratulated Adeyemo, saying his nomination by Biden did not come as a surprise going by the successes he had attained in the various positions he held before now. She noted that had spent his career working with organizations that are at the intersection of public policy, the private sector and non-profits focused on creating economic opportunity.

Adeyemo received his undergraduate degree from the University of California at Berkeley and a Juris Doctor from Yale Law School.

According to his bio on the website of the Center for Strategic & International Studies, for which he is a senior economic adviser, Adeyemo “held several management positions at the US Department of the Treasury, including senior adviser and deputy chief of staff, as well as chief negotiator for the Trans-Pacific Partnership’s provisions on macroeconomic policy. Wally also served as the first chief of staff at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In that capacity, he helped to hire the bureau’s initial executive leadership team and build an agency devoted to protecting US consumers.”

Adeyemo joined the Obama Foundation in August 2019 as its first president.

Biden has also nominated ex-Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen to lead the Treasury.

If confirmed by the Senate, Yellen, 74, will be the first female Treasury head in its history.

“We face great challenges as a country right now. To recover, we must restore the American dream — a society where each person can rise to their potential and dream even bigger for their children,” Yellen tweeted in reaction to her nomination.

“As Treasury Secretary, I will work every day towards rebuilding that dream for all.”

Other officials announced on Monday include veterans of the Obama administration, several of whom the Biden transition team noted would break racial barriers in their positions.

Biden’s other nominations include Neera Tanden, president of liberal think tank Center for American Progress, as head of the Office of Management and Budget. If confirmed, she would be its first South Asian head.

Also tapped was Dean of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, Cecilia Rouse, as chair of the Council of Economic Advisors, the first African American in that post.

“As we get to work to control the virus, this is the team that will deliver immediate economic relief for the American people during this economic crisis and help us build our economy back better than ever,” Biden said in a statement.

Kola Tella

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