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Jonathan inaugurates Sovereign Wealth Fund Council, presents certificates to 36 states, LGAs

By The Citizen
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President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday inaugurated the council of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), with a call to contributors to support them to ensure that the objectives are speedily realized for the benefit of all Nigerians.

He also presented certificates of contribution to federal, state and local government representatives at the occasion,  expressing happiness that the management team of the NSIA was already implementing robust governance and investment structures towards the achievement of its laudable objectives and the international community was already taking note of their efforts.

The President is Chairman of the Council to be represented at meetings by the Vice President, other members are each of 36 state governors including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), the Attorney General of the Federation, Ministers of Finance and National Planning, Central Bank Governor, Chief Economic Adviser to the President, and Chairman of the Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Commission.

The 12 non statutory members of the council whose nominations are subject to confirmation by the Senate as stipulated by the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority establishment Act of 2011, will join the council at a later date.

Represented by Vice President Namadi Sambo, Jonathan while assuring of his support and cooperation to ease the discharge of responsibilities, said it is expected that the governing council which represents the broad ownership of the fund across all three tiers of government will also provide guidance and direction to the board of NSIA.

According to Jonathan, 'Sovereign Wealth Fund all over the world has been instrumental for the instrument for fiscal discipline and development of the countries in which they exist. Our collective furnishing of the fund is re-enforced by the presentation of certificates of contribution for federal, state and local government and I urge all Nigerians to and officials at all levels of government to give their full support to the NSIA to ensure that the objectives are speedily realized for the benefit of all Nigerians.

'As you all know these objectives include: building a saving base for future generations of Nigeria, enhancing the development of Nigeria's infrastructure and promoting fiscal stability for the country in terms of economic strength', he said.

The President also expressed happiness that a number of other sovereign wealth fund and international investment institutions have already expressed their readiness to partner with the NSIA in the execution of infrastructure projects in Nigeria. 'Given this,  we should all be encouraged to remain steadfast in making contributions to the fund. While the initial  $1 billion investment is not inconsequential and gives us credibility, the sustainability of our Sovereign Wealth Fund depends on our continuous contributions.

'The NSIA makes investment with the expectations of profitable returns and in this vein there has been significant progress in the stabilization and  future generation funds. The Authority is currently working hard to evaluate a number of infrastructure projects across the country. Some of the undertaking include the second Niger Bridge, Gurara dam phase 2, sea ports investment and an aircraft leasing company to ease the financial burden in the airline industry and promote greater visibility in its operation.

'It is pertinent to say that the development of well conceived infrastructure projects by the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), will also provide a platform for our national pension funds to invest in credible undertakings. I urge the board and management team of NSIA to continue steadfastly in their role as custodians and administrators of our sovereign wealth fund. I also expect that they will always exhibit the greatest possible, accountability and compliance with the international best practices to gain and maintain the trust of all stakeholders in the fund, to assist and guide them in the discharge of their responsibilities', the President said.

In his remarks, the Chairman of the Board of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority, Mahe Raheed, said since the NSIA to the National Economic Council (NEC), it has worked hard to implement the governance and operational framework for the organization.

He announced that NSIA was now fully operational and has commenced investment activities. 'We have gone far in investing the stabilization and future generation funds. Also we are evaluating a number of investment opportunities in the nation's infrastrucute relating to transportation, power, healthcare, and agriculture.

'Indeed, we are happy to report that the NSIA has been significantly recognized as potential investment power house by global investment partners. As a testimony to our handwork in establishing international best practice in governance and investment procedures, the NSIA is already in the top ranking chart of Sovereign Weakth Fund Institute. Furthermore, we have been  invited to be a member of the International Forum of Sovereign Wealth Fund, based in Oslo, Norway, at it's meeting scheduled to hold on October 2, 2013. This is after our clearance by the Forum in April.

'It is also interesting to inform you that we have received accolades and statements of recognition by opinion leaders in many international financial markets. Consequent upon that, the NSIA has received many expressions of interests from many international finance institutions and other sovereign wealth funds to partner with it in investing in Nigeria.

'We shall therefore continue to pursue the objectives for the setting up the NSIA with vigor and institute the highest level of governance in the organization, transparency and accountability in line with the best international standard. This is to sustain the interest of global investment institutions to partner with us in enhancing economic development in Nigeria.

'We will continue to appeal to your excellencies to support us in this noble cause so as to attain the objectives of the NSIA in fostering Nigeria's economic growth', he said.

In his response the Managing Director of the NSIA, Uche Orji, assured the President that they were doing their best to attain the set objectives of the fund.