The economy of Nigeria is set to be
exposed to a fresh chapter of growth
and development that will be as
challenging as it will be rewarding
with the appointment of Ms. Patience
Oniha as the new Director-General of
the Debt Management Office (DMO),
the agency of government put in place
to oversee and manage public debt.
Ms. Oniha began her career at
Icon Limited Merchant Bankers in
1986, during which time she rose
to the position of a Manager, before
joining First Securities Discount
House Limited (now FSDH Merchant
Bank Ltd.) as a pioneer staff in 1992.
She rose to the position of General
Manager/Director before joining
Ecobank Nigeria Limited in 2000.
Between 2004 – 2008, Ms. Oniha was
in Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria
Ltd. as a General Manager.
After a fulfilling career in the
banking sector spanning over 22 years,
she left after acquiring skills in Credit,
Marketing, Treasury and Investment
Banking. Ms. Oniha made a career
move to the public sectors when she
joined the DMO in 2008 as Director,
Market Development Department. In
this capacity, Ms. Oniha brought her
banking experience to bear on various
aspects of the DMO’s activities.
Amongst her achievements during
her 8 years at the DMO was the
introduction of Benchmark Bonds to
develop the domestic bond market
in order to improve liquidity and
to create a sovereign yield curve
which created opportunities for State
Governments, Multilaterals and
corporates to raise long term funds.
The purpose behind this drive was to
create a debt capital market where the
public and private sectors can access
long term funds to finance Nigeria’s
growth and development. For
sustainable development of the debt
capital market, she actively engaged
with local and foreign investors,
regulators and other stakeholders
to develop a large and diversified
investor base for FGN Securities and
Bonds issued by other borrowers.
Oniha recorded quite a number of
“firsts” during her time in DMO as
she managed the successful issuance
of Nigeria’s debut USD500 million
Eurobond in January 2011. The debut
Eurobond opened a new source of
funding for the Federal Government
and Corporates. Thus, it was not
a surprise when in 2013, she also
managed the issuance of the dualtranche
USD1 billion Eurobond which
was subscribed to the tune of about
400%. A number of Nigerian banks by issuing Eurobonds. She was also
responsible for the inclusion of FGN
Bonds in the J.P. Morgan Government
Bond Index – Emerging Markets (GBI
– EM) in October 2012 which made
Nigeria the second country in Africa,
after South Africa to have its local
currency sovereign bond included in
the Index. The inclusion of FGN bonds
in this Index attracted foreign investors
to the domestic bond market as a whole.
This was followed by the inclusion
of FGN Bonds in the Barclays Capital
Emerging Markets – Local Currency
Government Bond Index (EM – LCBI) in
March 2013.
Ministry of Finance. To execute the
mandate of the Unit which was to
moderate government’s Overhead
Expenditure and generate savings
from the procurement process, Ms.
Oniha leveraged on her experience
and global best practice to introduce
a number of initiatives. Amongst
them were the issuance of 7 Circulars
to control expenditure on specific
Overhead items and the negotiation of
discounts with airlines. These delivered
savings estimated at N17 billion to
the Government. She was working on
the introduction of new processes for
payment and procurements when she
was appointed Director-General of
DMO with effect from July 1, 2017.
This lady of distinction bagged a
B.Sc. Economics, First Class Honours
from the University of Benin in 1983
and went on to earn an M.Sc. Finance
from the University of Lagos in 1985.
She widened her scope and horizon
by becoming a member of the Institute
of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria
in 1990 and a Fellow in 2008. Ms.
Oniha is also an Associate Member of
the Chartered Institute of Taxation of
In recognition of her antecedents and
as a resourceful and result oriented
person, the news of her appointment
was welcomed by Stakeholders with
statements such as: Since your student
days, it was clear to those of us who
knew you that you were destined to
excel in Scholarship, Career, Profession
and be a great woman of distinction;
Congratulations on this well-deserved
appointment and for flying the flag
for us women; This is a most well
deserved promotion. Well done; You
truly distinguished yourself at the
Efficiency Unit; The Country will benefit
immensely from your tenure; I thank
God for the excellent spirit and service
you have been rendering; I definitely
know you will serve the country better
once more; Your appointment was
indeed expected, having been part of
the success story of the DMO. I must
also commend you on your numerous
achievements during your stay as the
Head, Efficiency Unit of the Finance
Ministry. The foundation you have built
will serve as a template to be adopted
by State, Local and other arms of
Oniha’s performance at the DMO
between 2008 and 2015 are a testament
to her hard work and dedication
towards the betterment of Nigeria.
Her emergence as Director-General,
Debt Management Office, recognizes
her professional knowledge, notable
focus and bold, unassuming approach
– qualities needed to provide critical
leadership to a hugely important
agency in a period where growth and
development need to be achieved in
spite of economic challenges facing the

READ ALSO  APC should change its own mindset