ADEWALE Adeyemo, 39, a Nigerian – American diplomat who served under former US president Barack Obama is set for a second coming to the White House after Joe Biden, US president-elect tipped him to serve as deputy treasury secretary in his cabinet.
In August 2016, Adeyemo thought the defining point of his political career had climaxed as he assisted former US president Barack Obama to prepare for his final G-20 meeting in Laos and China while they both prepared to exit the public office.
“As you all know, this will be the President’s 10th and final G20 meeting. And I think in order to understand what we’re going to accomplish at this G20, it’s important to go back to the President’s first G20 meeting, which occurred in April of 2009,” Adeyemo said at a White House press briefing.
On that quiet Monday evening, Adeyemo did not anticipate fate would grant him the chance to become the first black man in US history to become Deputy Treasury Secretary until the outgoing US President Donald Trump lost the 2020 US presidential elections.
His family had emigrated from Nigeria to the US in the ’80s when he was a teenager, to pursue the famous “American dream”, before obtaining a Bachelor’s of Arts degree from the University of California at Berkeley.
He also earned a specialised law degree from Yale Law School, apart from a private law practice which spans a few years Adeyemo’s life has always revolved around politics.
Popularly known as “Wally”, he had spent most of his career convening companies, governments, and organisations until he got his first stint with the Obama government in 2009 after serving at the United States Department of the Treasury.
Adeyemo served as senior international economic adviser to former US president Barack Obama responsible for coordinating the policymaking process related to international finance, trade and environmental issues.
He served as Obama’s representative to the G7 and G20 summits and was also chief negotiator for the Trans-Pacific Partnership’s provisions on macroeconomic policy.
Adeyemo was appointed the first chief of staff at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) where he helped to protect US consumers from unfair, or abusive consumer financial practices.
However, Adeyemo’s recent appointment is not unconnected to his political stance on multilateralism and globalisation which would play a key role in helping President Biden to unbundle the policies against globilisation by outgoing US President Donald Trump.
In an opinion article pubished on the Guardian in April 2017, Adeyemo clearly spoke against the wave of populism sweeping across the world which he claimed was a threat to globalisation with protectionist and nationalist stances.
“Globalisation and the international rules-based order that underpins it are under siege…While protectionism makes for good political soundbites, history is littered with examples of the failure of these policies.
“Protectionism and a retreat from international cooperation is clearly not the answer, but policy makers minimize the underlying mistrust of globalization and multilateralism at their peril,” he said.
Biden administration is expected to take a multilateral approach to foreign policy, easing tensions and increasing engagement with allies especially with trade.
Adeyemo will be instrumental in ensuring the effectiveness of the US global engagement with its allies
Trump’s government had an uninterested stance on US foreign private investment to Africa as US foreign direct investment in Africa decreased from $50.4 billion in 2017 to $43.2 billion in 2019 which Biden is set to increase.
After leaving the White House in 2016, Adeyemo signed on as a senior adviser at BlackRock, the global investment firm with assets management worth $6.52 trillion and also had a brief stint with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Adeyemo, a Hyde Park resident, joined the Obama Foundation in August 2019 as its first president with a salary pegged at $600,000, according to the foundation’s tax records.
Where he increased its leadership development and civic engagement initiatives, from the Community Leadership Corps, My Brother’s Keeper Alliance and the Girls Opportunity Alliance.
As President Biden hopes to extend a hand of friendship to US allies across the world that have been disgruntled by President Trump’s policies, he turns to Nigerian born – American Adeyemo to smoothen the rough edges.
Jacob Lew, former treasury Secretary who described Adeyemo as skilled technocrat that would maintain the US interests spoke highly of him when he was the treasury’s lead negotiator on the currency agreement that was part of the Pacific trade deal.
“He has developed a network of international relationships in economic offices around the world to promote US interests effectively,” he said.
Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.