Lai YahayaLai Yahaya



Occupational Information

Job Title: Senior Special Assistant to the President of Nigeria (Planning & Strategy)

Professional History

Lai Yahaya is a public policy advisor to governments, development finance institutions, and major international corporates on political economy dynamics, market entry strategy, risk management, infrastructure project finance, and public-private partnerships in Sub-Saharan Africa.

He was recently appointed as Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari in Nigeria, working in the Office of the Chief of Staff. He is also a Senior Policy Advisor to Rt. Hon. Raila Odinga, African Union High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa.

Lai was previously Team Leader of the Senior Advisors Group of the US Power Africa Initiative, working with a group of former Heads of State and industry leaders, to provide advice to serving government leaders on how best to design, finance, and deliver major power projects in Sub-Saharan Africa.

He was a former Team Leader of the Facility for Oil Sector Transparency and Reform (FOSTER), a donor-funded initiative designed to support the restructuring of the oil and gas sector and to increase transparency and accountability in the oil sector governance in Nigeria. He was also previously Deputy Director and Team Leader at the Bureau of Public Enterprises in the Presidency, Nigeria, where he spearheaded many major sector reforms in power, transport, and telecommunications; and also mobilized and managed more than US$150million in development financing support.

Lai qualified as an attorney with the New York law firm of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, and started his career at the United Nations Development Programme in New York, working as an assistant and speechwriter to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

He is a Yale World Fellow, a Fellow and board member of the Desmond Tutu African Leadership Institute, sits on the undefined Africa Policy Advisory Board, and was an Expert Advisor (Energy and Extractives), to the late Kofi Annan’s Africa Progress Panel.


BA (Hons) and MA from Balliol College, University of Oxford.
MSc in Business Economics
Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales.


2009 Archbishop Desmond Tutu Leadership Fellow

 Additional Tags: Business, Economics, Governance, Law, Energy, Natural Resources, Policy and Strategy, Oil, Gas