At a time when Nigerians and Africans at large taught President-elect Trump had resentment for them, things have turned out the other way with Trump choosing a Nigeria Adebayo Ogunlesi as his economic adviser.
Meet Adebayo Ogunlesi, the new diversity hire of President-elect of the United States, Donald Trump. Nigerian billionaire and investment banker, Ogunlesi is expected to join Trump’s cabinet as part of a policy and strategy forum, which is poised to help Trump bring back jobs and “make America great again.”
Bayo, for short, as he’s called by those close to him, is chairman and managing partner of Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), a New York-based private equity firm, with over $35 billion assets under investment.
Born in Sagamu, Ogun state, Nigeria, in 1953, he is the son of Theophilus Ogunlesi, Nigeria’s first professor of medicine. After attending King’s College, Lagos, for his secondary education, he travelled to England to earn an honours degree from Oxford University in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, and then entered a joint law-business degree program at Harvard University in the late 1970s.
Before graduating magna cum laude in 1979, Ogunlesi served as editor of the Harvard Law Review. Following standard practice, he then clerked for US Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall as the first non-American clerk at the High Court.
After earning his law degree and a master’s degree in business administration, Ogunlesi entered private practice with Cravath, Swaine and Moore in New York City.
Prior to founding Global Infrastructure Partners, Ogunlesi spent 23 years at Credit Suisse where he held senior positions, including Executive Vice Chairman, advising clients on strategic transactions and financing in a broad range of industries and has worked on transactions in North and South America, the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. He serves as a member of the board of directors of Goldman Sachs, Kosmos Energy, and Callaway Golf Company.
He is a Non-Executive Chairman of the Africa Finance Corporation and is said to informally advise the Nigerian government on privatisation.
He is the first Nigerian to be appointed by Trump and his appointment comes a year after President Barack Obama named Adewale Adeyemo as Deputy National Security Adviser for International Economics.
President-elect Donald Trump’s recent cabinet appointments is significant, given that his cabinet could be the wealthiest administration ever, filled with tycoons–billionaires, millionaires, and investment bankers
Yet, one wonders that in his bid to “make America great again”, Trump’s racist sentiments expressed during campaign periods were just played to an American rhetoric–for many, a reaction to a black man (Obama) coming into power–to earn votes.
For all stated purposes, Adebayo Ogunlesi is black, Nigerian and African.
It would be recalled that Trump was reported to have said that Nigerians would be made to leave the country when he becomes President. Stressing the need to get rid of the Muslims, Mexicans and the Africans, especially the Nigerians.
So, is president-elect Donald J. Trump eating his words with truffles in his risotto at three-star Michelin restaurants?
He’s sought out Ben Carson, African-American, retired neurosurgeon whom he defeated in the Republican primaries, and selected him as secretary of housing and urban development.
South Carolina Governor, Nikki Haley, is of Indian descent and a former Trump critic; she was chosen to become the Ambassador to the United Nations.
Elaine Chao, the first Asian-American woman to hold a Cabinet position, as labour secretary under President George Bush is to work as the Transport Secretary.
But none of his choices suggests an administration that is reaching beyond its party sentiments in terms of inclusivity.
At a basic level, it’s important to have leaders who more closely represent the demographics of America, which is a white male dominated society. However, there will be concerns and these kinds of political selections will lead to the marginalisation of not just minority groups in the US but also low and middle-income earners.
Well, Adebayo Ogunlesi is set to “make America great” again, the much-reverberated campaign promise of Donald Trump.
The 62-year-old joins an all-star team of corporate executives, chaired by Stephen Schwarzman, Chairman, CEO, and Co-Founder of Blackstone, and will be charged alongside his other members with providing individual views to Trump on how government policy impacts economic growth, job creation, and productivity.