August 21, 2019 / 12:54 PM / 10 months ago

Nigeria's Buhari assigns cabinet portfolios, appoints new oil minister

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari waves at the crowd while he drives around the venue during his inauguration for a second term in Abuja, Nigeria, May 29, 2019. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde/File Photo

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari swore members of his cabinet into office on Wednesday, assigning a new minister of state for petroleum in Africa’s top producer of crude oil.

Buhari kept the petroleum portfolio for himself, as in his first term, and appointed Timipre Silva as minister of state for petroleum, who is widely expected to manage the portfolio on a day-to-day basis.

Nigeria, which has Africa’s biggest economy, remains heavily reliant on crude oil sales despite efforts by Buhari to boost non-oil revenues since he first took office in 2015. Oil sales account for about 90% of foreign exchange and low oil prices helped to push the country into recession in 2016.

Silva, a former governor of Bayelsa state in the southern Niger Delta oil production heartlands, replaces former ExxonMobil executive Emmanuel Kachikwu who was the country’s main representative at OPEC meetings.

Zainab Ahmed retained the position of finance minister.

The cabinet of 43 ministers faces a long list of challenges including tepid growth following its emergence from recession in 2017, along with high unemployment and widespread insecurity.

The move to assign portfolios comes six months after Buhari won a presidential election and nearly three months after his second term began. The time taken to appoint ministers caused jitters amongst investors and threatened growth prospects.

Reporting by Felix Onuah in Abuja and Alexis Akwagyiram in Lagos; editing by Chijioke Ohuocha, William Maclean

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