ACN FAULTS SWF
The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has strongly condemned the aggressive clamour by the Federal Government to set up the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF), describing the fund as illegal, unconstitutional, fraudulent and anti-federalism.
In a statement issued in Abeokuta, Ogun State, yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said there was absolutely no argument that could justify the creation of the illegal SWF.
It said any state governor, who supported the creation of the fund did not understand what federalism was all about, blatantly violated the constitution and was therefore liable to impeachment by his or her state House of Assembly.
'No governor can spend money without appropriation by the House of Assembly. Therefore, acceding to the creation of the SWF, which purportedly saves money on behalf of the states, even without approval from the various Houses of Assembly, amounts to spending money without appropriation,'' ACN said.
The party explained that the creation of the SWF negated the stipulations of the constitution, that all monies accruing to the country must be paid into the Federation Account.
'The sharing formula for accruing funds, however lopsided, is clear and no money in the Federation Account should be left unshared for whatever reason. The argument that the SWF is being set up to save for the rainy day is sheer hogwash, because you cannot save my money without my consent. The Federal Government can go ahead and save its own share of the money.
'In any case, every part of the country is crying for infrastructural development. Why put money aside, illegally, when there are pressing needs for the country? For example, can a father refuse to spend his entire monthly salary, if necessary, if his child is ill and needs life-saving surgery, just because he wants to save for tomorrow?'' it queried.
ACN also said the creation of the SWF amounted to taking power from the states and suggested that the relationship between the federal and state governments was a master-servant relationship, hence the former could dictate to the latter at will.
The party said it should be up to the states to determine what to do with the funds accruing to them from their share of the Federation Account, instead of being dictated to by an overbearing Federal Government.
It also said even the money-saving argument to justify the creation of the SWF, assumed that even the saved funds could not be mismanaged, adding: 'For example, what happens if the saved funds had gone the way of the funds lent to Greece?
'Everything is wrong with the creation of the SWF. Right now, the Federal Government has started advertising for those who will manage the SWF. Is it doing so with the permission of the states? Should they not have an input into how their saved funds should be managed? Should the management of the funds not be jointly done?'' queried ACN.
The party noted that while there was nothing wrong with the Federal Government benchmarking prices for the sale of crude oil, it could not keep the balance of the accruing funds. Therefore, this made even the excess crude oil account itself, a precursor of the SWF, illegal.
'Unfortunately, it is the acquiescence, on the part of the states, to the existence of the excess crude oil account that has further emboldened the Federal Government to graduate to the SWF bunkum. We are totally and unequivocally opposed to the SWF and the Federal Government should immediately jettison the plan to create the fund,'' ACN said.