Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on Friday inaugurated the board of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) with expressing hope that the fund will remain strategic to the country’s growth and development as it maneuvers its way out of recession.
The National Economic Council (NEC) in February approved the nomination of members from the six geo-political zones in the country for appointment into the board of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority for a four-year term with Babajide Zeitlin as its chairman.
Inaugurating the board at a brief ceremony held in the Acting President’s conference room, Osinbajo said the major charge of the board is to improve the performance of the fund through investing in key priority areas of the government like agriculture and infrastructure.
The board will be held accountable by the Economic Council, the governing council and Nigerians as a whole and will be required to provide evidence of their stewardship for assessment.
“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.
“As representatives of the people, our charge is simple: we require you to fundamentally improve the performance of the authority and strengthen its operations.
“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 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” Osinabjo said in his remarks while inaugurating the board.
He commended their participation with the governments of Delta and Akwa Ibom on the modular refineries project adding that these were key projects that would unlock the economic potential of the country and get the country out of the woods.
“The bar before you is high and all of us are counting on you to deliver” he said inaugurating the board of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority to the “glory of the Almighty God and the enduring development of our nation”.
Those inaugurated into the board from the six geo-political zones in the country include Halima Buba (North-East), Bello Maccido (North–West), Lois Laraba Machunga-Disu (North Central), Babajide Zetilin (South West), Urum Kalu Eze (South East) and Asue Ighodalo (South-South).
Others include Uche Orji, the Managing Director of NSIA, Stella Ojekwe-Onyejeli and Hanspeter Acheermann.
Speaking on behalf of the board the Chairman, Zetilin thanked the government for giving them the opportunity to serve the nation adding that they are fully “committed to doing so with utmost of integrity and transparency and we look forward to being held accountable”. He said the team will remain committed and align itself with the policies of this administration and the economic team.
The Managing Director of the NSIA Uche Orji told journalists after the inauguration that the team is committed to protecting the fund for future generations as well as making investments 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” he said.
Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun speaking on the composition of the board told journalists that an executive search committee was set up to look for the best and ensure it came up with a balanced board that captures representative of every part of the country. According to her, the team is made up of 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”.