- Warns members on accountability
The Acting President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo has inaugurated the board of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) to be chaired by Babajide Zetilin (South West).
This is the second board since it was created and it would serve for four years ago.
Osinbajo while inaugurating the board on Friday urged them to focus on domestic infrastructure investment.
He urged to actively be seen doing more in agriculture infrastructure, power, toll roads, second Niger Bridge as well as health care.
The National Economic Council (NEC) chaired by Osinbajo, had in February approved the nomination of six Nigerians for appointment into the board of the NSIA.
The NEC had also approved the injection of a fresh $250 million capital into the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) with the fresh capital sourced from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) bringing the total to $500 million.
The members of the board represent each of the six geo-political zones in the country are: Halima Buba (North-East), Bello Maccido (North–West), Lois Laraba Machunga-Disu (North Central), Urum Kalu Eze (South East) and Asue Ighodalo (South-South).
Other members Uche Orji, Stella Ojekwe-Onyejeli and Hanspeter Achermann.
Speaking further, Osinbajo charged the board to improve the performance of the authority and strengthen its operations, stressing that the NEC, the governing council as well as all Nigerians will hold them accountable to the mandate of the authority.
He said: “As representatives of the people, our charge is simple: we require you to fundamentally improve the performance of the authority and strengthen its operations.
“The National Economic Council, your governing council, and all Nigerians will hold you accountable to this mandate.”
“Periodically, you will be required to provide evidence of your stewardship to the governing council where your performance, of cause, will be assessed.
“Indeed despite the fiscally constrained environment, this administration has been able to increase the federal government’s commitment to the NSIA by 50%, committing an additional $500 million.”
According to him, though the federal government is committed to saving, the actual charge with this additional capital is investment.
“Thus as the NSIA moves to the second phase of its existence the expectation is that the committed capital will be deployed into projects that are in line with the administration’s key priority areas, namely: infrastructure, agriculture in order to improve our economy.
“For example, we expect prompt action on the commodities exchange, a vital component of our agricultural reform effort.
“I am pleased to note your participation with the governments of Delta and Akwa Ibom on the modular refineries project.
“They are several key projects that would unlock the economic potential of our country and get us faster out of where we are today.
“The bar before you is high and all of us are counting on you to deliver.”
According to him, “The discipline and rigour with which the entity was founded and operated reflects in its capacity to deliver on its mandate.
“Indeed the NSIA has demonstrated that not only do we have the capacity, as Nigerians, to deliver on some of the most complex issues but that we have the men and women to do so.
“Since inception, the NSIA has maintained the track record of consistent positive performance and displayed an impressive capacity for growth.
“We are proud of its accomplishments and commend the staff and management of the institution.”
Osinbajo stressed the importance of the NSIA saying it fulfills a critical function in the administration’s economy and country as a whole, “principally it serves as a good tool of fiscal discipline, ensuring future availability of capital through investments in long term assets and managing Nigerian savings.
“More importantly is a system managed by committed people who seek to create fresh functional and scalable solutions to Nigeria’s economic challenges using limited capital to catalyse inflow of investments.
“Increasingly, the NSIA lends itself to the actualization of our administration’s agenda for economic transformation in many ways.
“On a number of occasions we have involve them in the implementation of initiatives central to government’s programmes and they delivered efficiently and sustainably.
“And as we navigate the pathway out of recession and into a self-sufficient and diversified economy it is our expectation that the NSIA will remain increasingly strategic to our nation’s growth and development.”
Osinbajo further stated that the background and expectation of NSIA’s role in the future informed the administration’s choice of those on the board noting that their character and proven professional pedigree played a key role in their choice to oversee the affairs of the NSIA for a four year term.
“For those who may demand an explanation of the basis of our choice beyond your academic and track record perhaps it is important to mention that you have been nominated to serve on account on your well-demonstrated integrity, patriotism and unique sense of duty.
“It is my fervent hope therefore that you will bring these worthy attributes to bear as you discharge your duties.
“Your appointment is a call to service which will require total commitment and dedication of the highest standards, attributes which I am confident that you will epitomize individually and collectively.”
In his response, Zetilin welcome the opportunity to serve the nation and assured that they were fully committed to serving with “utmost of integrity and transparency and we look forward to being held accountable. As the acting president already outlined in terms of both making sure that we are prudent stewards of this capital for current and future generations. And as importantly making sure that particularly with the infrastructure funds that we are fully aligned with policies of this administration and the economic team.”
On what they were bringing on board, he said, “We are very committed to protecting the fund for future generations as well as making investments today in infrastructure that will help enhance and align with the government priorities. We are very focused on agriculture, infrastructure more broadly and this is a seasoned team both the executive management team and a very experienced board. So this augurs well for the Nigerian nation.”
Uche Orji, the Managing Director of NSIA on his part said the authority will focus on agriculture commodities exchange, agriculture infrastructure, power, toll roads as well as the second Niger Bridge.
He said, “We are focused now on domestic infrastructure investment. You are going to see us more in agriculture. You have seen us run the fertilizer blending Programme and we announced that as at last week we had released more than three million bags through our Programme. It is the first time the country will run fertilizer without subsidy and it is being sold at 30 per cent below market price to the farmers in a free market environment.
“You are going to see us in agriculture commodities exchange, agriculture infrastructure, power, toll roads, we are doing second Niger Bridge and you will see us in other areas such as health care. Health care is one of the big focus areas for NSIA and then you will see what we described as mid-stream to downstream oil and gas. Gas for industry, gas for power. That is what the NSIA is going to be focusing on.”
The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun whose ministry will oversee the activities of the authority, said in her remarks that “We had an executive search committee that looked for the best; it is a very balanced board. Every single part of the country is represented which wasn’t quite the way it was in the past. Every single zone is represented here and we have a balance between male and female, seasoned professionals. We have bankers, lawyers, people with oil and gas experience, entrepreneurs, and we are very confident that this board will look after our future resources and provide very good decisions and guidance to the execute management in line with the administration’s expectations and requirements.”