Nigeria bids farewell to Bode Agusto, a distinguished economist, and visionary leader who left an indelible mark on the nation’s financial landscape. Born on September 14, 1955, his remarkable journey from a Chartered Accountant to the founder of Nigeria’s first credit rating agency, Agusto & Co. Limited, is a testament to his unwavering dedication to economics, finance, and business strategy.
Agusto, with Afro Brazilian Muslim heritage, passed away at the age of 68 in Algarve, Portugal, early on Thursday, October 19, 2023, following a short battle with pancreatic cancer.
Bode Agusto, a name synonymous with groundbreaking contributions to Nigeria’s economic landscape, left a lasting legacy when he passed away in September 2023 at the age of 68. With an illustrious career spanning several decades, Agusto’s life and work continue to inspire and shape the future of the country.
Remembering his early life, Bode Agusto’s passion for education and self-improvement was deeply rooted in his upbringing. His family instilled in him the belief that a solid education sets individuals apart. He drew inspiration from his grandfather, an illiterate who self-funded his journey from being a Chemist & Druggist to a lawyer, ultimately becoming a Queen’s Counsel.
Agusto’s educational journey led him to the University of Lagos, where he obtained a degree in Accounting in 1977. Following this, he ventured into the world of finance, working for UTC Motors during his National Youth Service Corps assignment. His career took an academic turn when he attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management, earning an Executive Certificate in Strategy & Innovation. He also earned the prestigious title of Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN).
Agusto’s professional journey commenced at PriceWaterhouse in 1978, where he honed his skills for a decade, reaching the rank of Partner. At PwC, he found a mentor in Chukwu Amako, a Tax partner who significantly influenced his career and personal life.
His career took another turn in 1988 when he joined the Nigerian International Bank Limited, later known as Citibank Nigeria, as an Assistant Vice President. After a brief return to PwC, he embarked on a new venture, founding Agusto & Co. in 1992. Initially focusing on business information, the company later obtained an SEC license as a credit rating agency in 2001, making it Nigeria’s first indigenous credit rating agency. The firm has since diversified its services to encompass industry research, portfolio analysis, policy and process reviews, and customized research, impacting various key markets in Africa, including Kenya and Rwanda.
Agusto’s legacy began with the establishment of Agusto & Co. Limited in 1992, a company that would significantly impact Nigeria’s financial landscape. It emerged as the country’s first credit rating agency, earning recognition from the Securities and Exchange Commission. Agusto’s visionary leadership was instrumental during his 11-year tenure as the company’s Managing Director.
Before his venture with Agusto & Co., he garnered invaluable experience during his decade-long tenure at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). His contributions led to his admission as a Partner in the institution in 1991. Agusto also made his mark at Nigeria International Bank, now known as Citibank Nigeria, where he held the position of Assistant Vice President and Head of the World Corporations Group.
In recognition of his stellar contributions to the Nigerian economy, Olusegun Obasanjo, former Nigerian President, conferred upon Agusto the national honor of Member of the Order of the Federal Republic in 2003. President Obasanjo also appointed him as the Director General and Special Advisor to the President on Budget Matters, a role in which Agusto oversaw a period of remarkable financial transformation. Under his leadership, Nigeria achieved budget surpluses every year, enabling the country to obtain debt relief and repay a staggering US$32 billion of its national debt.
During this period, Agusto and his team reformed the budget process, introducing spending limits and fostering collaboration between key ministries and the National Assembly to create Medium-Term Sector Strategies aligned with the President’s goals.
Bode Agusto’s impact extended beyond the corporate world. He served as a Non-Executive Director on the boards of Agusto & Co. Limited and Grand Cereals Limited, a subsidiary of UACN Plc. His influence reached the Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank of Nigeria, where he provided valuable insights. He also contributed his expertise to institutions like GT Bank, Shell Nigeria CPFA, and Nigerian Agip CPFA as a non-Executive Director.
However, Agusto’s contributions weren’t confined to boardrooms and financial institutions. His insatiable curiosity led him to immerse himself in in-depth research on the economies of Sub-Saharan Africa, exploring the intricate web of politics, economics, and the banking system. His work uncovered how key businesses create value for their shareholders, a body of knowledge he generously shared with future leaders through numerous financial seminars.
As he stepped down from public service, he continued to serve as a non-Executive Director of the National Pension Commission (PenCom), the Shell Nigeria Pension Fund, and as a member of the Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Bode Agusto is remembered as an independent researcher and consultant, dedicated to exploring the intricacies of politics, economics, and business strategy in Sub-Saharan Africa.