In the nerve center of Lagos State’s governance, Alausa, Dr. Rabiu Olowo’s presence is not merely felt—it’s sought after. At just 37, he stands as the youngest and arguably the brightest commissioner in Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s cabinet. As the Finance Commissioner of the state, he leads the fiscal policy of an economy that ranks as the fifth-largest in Africa.
Bearing the weight of multiple ministries hinged on his fiscal management, Dr. Olowo navigates the labyrinth of public policy, taxation, and revenue generation with the finesse of a seasoned expert. When he speaks, whether it’s in a high-stakes cabinet meeting or in a lecture hall at Lagos State University, everyone listens. The young commissioner is the lynchpin of the administration’s financial strategy.
But there’s more to Dr. Olowo than a lofty title and high-powered responsibilities. He’s a polymath, a man whose brilliance extends from the power corridors of governance to the rigorous halls of academia.
Growing up, his aspirations were as expansive as they were specific: he wanted to be an accounting and finance giant, consulting for top firms globally. Fulfilling this vision didn’t happen by accident; it was the result of tireless work, insatiable curiosity, and a relentless drive for excellence.
Dr. Olowo is a towering figure in academics. He’s a Professor of Practice in Business, Finance, and accounting. His academic portfolio is as impressive as it is diverse. An alumnus of the prestigious Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He also holds an MBA from the University of Lagos and an MSc in Accounting and Finance from Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, UK. His PhD in Forensic Accounting and auditing from Kogi State University sets him apart as an intellectual powerhouse.
Beyond the degrees, he has made a plethora of research contributions to the fields of Business, Accounting, and Public Policy. His works on topics such as the Future of Finance, Whistleblowing Culture in Africa, and Sustainable Finance Options in Agriculture are recognized for their significant impact.
His recent accolades include the governance category of the 40 Under 40 Africa Awards, where he was honoured for his exemplary work in revenue, expenditure, debt, and investment management for Lagos. Dr. Olowo was also named the 2022 Public Finance Administrator of the Year at the Leadership Excellence Awards.
Under his watch, Lagos State secured a triple-A rating from the International Ratings Agency Fitch, thanks to improved accountability, transparency, and fiscal management. In financial terms, he spearheaded the raising of the N100 billion Series III Bond at 12.25 per cent, the largest by any sub-national entity in Nigeria, and managed a N150 billion syndicated loan at a competitive rate, all within his first three months in office.
From arranging the financial and technical close of West Africa’s first metro line—the Lagos Blue Line—to spearheading the establishment of Imota Rice Mill, Africa’s largest, Dr. Olowo’s governance is as transformative as it is innovative. His collaboration extended to the Ministry of Agriculture, a partnership that reflects his multi-sectoral influence in governance.
He was instrumental in reviewing a new law to facilitate a more liberal tax regime, promoting voluntary compliance and thus widening the tax net. Under his stewardship, Lagos State’s revenue grew at a compound annual growth rate of approximately 12%.
Despite the overwhelming demands of his ministerial duties, Dr. Olowo’s love for academia never waned. He serves as a Lecturer and Executive-in-Residence at Lagos State University’s MBA and DBA Programs, teaching finance and accounting pro bono. This commitment to knowledge-sharing signifies a leader who doesn’t just do but also teaches, nurturing the next generation of fiscal managers.
Dr. Olowo’s influence is not restricted to Lagos or even Nigeria. He was the first Nigerian invited to present a paper at the ACFE Global Fraud Conference in Baltimore, USA, attended by over 2000 international delegates. His work in Internal Control Systems has spanned across Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and the USA, providing him with a multi-geographical perspective that is invaluable in his role as commissioner.
His story isn’t just about the fusion of academia and governance; it’s a narrative of hard-earned success, a reflection of what can be achieved with the right combination of intellect, diligence, and purpose. As he orchestrates Lagos State’s financial symphony, his notes touch on accountability, innovation, and transformation, making him a maestro in a complex ensemble of governance.
In the intricate dance of public policy and fiscal responsibility, Dr. Rabiu Olowo leads with poise and precision, creating a legacy that will undoubtedly shape Lagos State for generations to come.
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