Obama reaches for a security chief with Nigerian roots

Adewale “Wally” Adeyemo, U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser for International Economic Affairs Photo: OkayAfrica

At a time stinging anti-immigrant rhetoric is consuming a section of the American political divide, President Barack Obama extended his immigrant narrative in the American political life by picking the son of a Nigerian immigrant, Adewale “Wally” Adeyemo, 34, as his Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics.

Announcing the appointment at the White House in Washington DC, on Tuesday, President Obama said he “will be calling on Wally’s intellect, judgment and dedication as we sustain America’s global economic leadership, which reinforces our national security, and as we work with allies and partners around the world to create jobs and opportunity for all our people.”

Mr. Adeyemo’s life journey is the perfect meaning of the immigrant’s dream in the United States. It is a story of hard work, inspiration, and strict family values that came together 25 years ago when early in the morning of February 9, 1990, he was steered out of bed by his father, Joseph Adeyemo, now principal at the Terrace View Elementary School, Colton, in California.

It was a day of history. Nelson Mandela, legendary freedom fighter and later president of South Africa, was walking out from prison after 27 years in prison, and the older Adeyemo wanted his son to witness history as a source of inspiration.

“I could feel the hope Mandela inspired not only in South Africans but also in my father. Watching Nelson Mandela go from prisoner to president and start the process of bringing together a country was more than inspirational, it motivated me to imagine how I could use public service to improve the world around me” the younger Adeyemo told the U.S. Senate Committee On Banking, Housing, And Urban Affairs at a September confirmation hearings for the position of Assistant Secretary for International Markets and Development.

A graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, where he received his bachelor’s degree and the Yale University Law school, where he was the student–body president, tat desire for public service found entry in 2009 when Mr. Adeyemo joined the Treasury Department after law school, working alongside policymakers charged with coordinating international response to global recession.

In 2010, he was seconded to the team charged to implement a part of the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, where he worked for now Senator Elizabeth Warren as the first Chief of Staff of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Mr. Adeyemo’s appointment has lifted interest among a section of the local Nigerian community in the United States.

Baba Adam, a leader of the broad Nigerian community and college administrator, thanked President Obama for the choice of Mr. Adeyemo, describing it as ”ascension of inspiration”.

Isa Odidi, a professor, chairman and co-chief scientist at Intellipharmaceutics International Inc, in Toronto, Canada, joins him in eulogy saying, “Your [Mr. Adeyemo’s] story hopefully will help remind everyone that people of Nigerian descent in Diaspora are very, very, very capable and that we should be aggressively ‘head hunting’ these individuals.”

Toyin Dawodu, who is a managing partner at the Capital Investment Group, in California, and a family friend of the Adeyemos, commended President Obama for “his excellent choice” adding, “The sky is the limit for second and subsequent generations of Nigerian Americans in terms of contributions to our adopted country and helping our native country”.

Mr. Adeyemo spoke to a life goal defined by community and society development in his September senate nomination hearing where he remarked on how “helping to build an agency devoted to protecting consumers was deeply personal for me”.

“I grew up in the Inland Empire, a region of Southern California, where in 2010, one in every 14 homes faced foreclosure,” he said.  These were not just numbers to me; they were my friends and family.  I know the impact that a lost job, cut in hours, or one bad financial decision can have on the ability to stay in the home your children grew up in.  I am grateful to have played a role in standing up an agency that helps consumers better understand and deal with their financial choices.”

In his new position, Mr. Adeyemo is expected to play a key role in coordinating United States response to international financial crises, working with international partners and allies to devise and implement targeted economic policies to advance and strengthen American national security and economic goals.


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  • Olusegun Dada

    Reward for excellence

  • Gidi

    Great news for Nigerian in diaspora and Nigerians at home. This is an indication that hard work and honesty pays off

  • Maria

    Yorubas are great people… men and women of integrity and intelligence. God bless Yoruba people.

    • Bayo

      Amen.
      God bless you too. Infact, God bless the whole world.

    • Yipada

      So are other Nigerians dummy. Admiral (Dr.) John O. Agwunobi, was Secretary of Health for the State of Florida, before he was appointed Assistant Secretary for Health and Human Services by President George W. Bush before then he was Florida Secretary of Health under Jeb Bush. You Yorubas are hypocrites of the highest level, if an Ibo person had made this comment. The Yorubas will all go after him, claiming Ibos are tribal. Just as a reminder I’m not Ibo and I do not like the Ibos, the Yorubas or the Hausa-Foolani. You all are the same. Anyway congratulation to you Mr. Adeyemo stay away from Nigerian politics, Nigerian politic is for losers like @ Maria

      • Maria

        My comment has got nothing to do with you… so why are you jealous? Your comment and statements are based on jealousy and envy.

        • emmanuel

          He knows that you are an ethnicist and not a patrotic Nigerian. Maria ni; Malaria koo!

        • Yipada

          Jealous and envy of your fat ugly ass, I think you want to get laid, so old lady get yourself laid. You can get your old man to do it after all Obansanjo did it for his son dumb ass

  • Very Proud Oily IZON Redeemer

    Hope he is not the Yoruba man who sold General CVU Buhari to Obama———-with his Yorubanized ideas–Happily he is not like our drug offender–no convict Alhaji Tinubu——-who is now a relation of Buhari in Katsina state-

    • Julius

      He is way better educated than Jonathan the dumb ass and the thief !!

  • SAM .A

    Mr.Adewale Adeyemo, has just fulfilled a Biblical injunction in Proverb 22: 29 “Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before the kings;He will not stand before obscure men” New American Standard Bible
    Mr.Adeyemo congratulation.

  • Bayo

    Thank You Jesus.

  • Höly Wähala

    Another one slips through the nets…
    At a time Nigeria is battling Boko Haram and a devatated North East economy, this crown jewel would have been a perfect NSA to Buhari san ethno-religious sentiments and local politics. Only highly qualified Nigerians from the diaspora can rescue that country but after what Dr. NOI through with ingrate Nigerians, no one wants to risk their well-crafted caree dealing with messed up by corruption Nigeria… @Adeyemo, RESPCT! ojare. I lived in Emeryville and know exactly your worth graduating from UC Berkeley. Again, Respect!

    • Julius

      lolz. Respect !. You are so right bro.

    • emmanuel

      Yeye fowl. Na who go make an Odeku addict who sleep in the streets of Germany anything for Naija except Buhari?
      Anyhow, make you dey dream. Even your Afeecee value an – Owo da in Lagos more than your diaspora character.

      • Höly Wähala

        Disregarded… Rapist!

        • emmanuel

          Yes rapist indeed. We do not want some sojiurners lost in diaspora after thirty unproductive years to come back here.
          Remain there jeje, when you delete, we on this forum will do Obituary for you in some local Newspapers to celebrate your exit like we will do for Obasanjo (the man who posses similar character with you) when the time comes.
          You are only useful to the likes of Sam A, Tundemess, Guguru who operate with over nine aliases and Onike
          Afterall, your origin is split between Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba. What an irony!

  • emmanuel

    If this man was an Igbo or a SS person, the Yorubas and Olorunyomi will tell the World how his father changed his date of birth or so to enter the USA