Rasheed, Orji to Lead Sovereign Wealth Fund

29 Aug 2012

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Alhaji Mahey Rasheed

By Ndubuisi Francis

About 10 months after it announced the commencement of the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) with $1 billion as seed capital, the Federal Government Tuesday unveiled the board of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) with Alhaji Mahey Rasheed as Chairman and Uche Orji as its pioneer Managing Director.

While Rasheed is a former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and is presently a member of board of directors of First Bank Nigeria Plc, Orji, who previously served as managing director of leading investment bank in the United States of America – JP Morgan – is the Global Coordinator and Head, US Semiconductor Research as well as Co-Head of US Tech Sector Research at another prominent investment bank – USB.

Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, in a briefing in Abuja, stated that the constitution of the board was the product of a rigorous and transparent process which lasted almost a year.

Other members of the board, the minister disclosed, include Arnold Ekpe, Jide Zeitlin, Mrs. Bili Awosika, Bisi Soyebo (SAN), Mr. Hassan Usman and Mrs. Stella Ojekwe-Onyejeli, who will serve as the fund’s chief risk officer.

“In all, 730 applications were received for three executive positions – chief executive officer, executive director (Investments) and executive director (Risk).

“Forty of these were shortlisted by KPMG which assisted in sourcing suitable candidates, then 16 candidates were shortlisted before the final three were selected,” she said.

According to her, upon completion of due diligence on the candidates, the candidate for chief investment officer was dropped, adding that the position would be re-advertised shortly.

The minister disclosed that the CEO of the fund would assume duties on October 2, 2012, adding that office accommodation was being sourced for the officials.

Giving some insight into the process leading to the selection of the board of the fund, the minister said the process commenced on September 8, 2011 when she set up a six-man implementation task force headed by “distinguished banker and philanthropist, Mr. Fola Adeola, with the mandate to assist in determining concrete steps to be taken by the Federal Government to actualise the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority."

“Following the recommendation of the task force, an Executive Nomination Committee (ENC) comprising six Nigerians with integrity, independence, proven qualifications and tested market experience from the six geo-political zones of the country was established.

“The committee had the responsibility to assist with the selection of members of the board, a key plank of the governance structure of the institution,” she said.

She noted that with her as chairperson of the committee, the six ENC members were: Mrs. Sola David Borha, MD/CEO, Stanbic IBTC from the South-west; Hon. Nkoyo Toyo, member, House of Representatives representing the South-south zone; Mr.  Uwa Etigwe (SAN), Partner, Streamsowers & Kohn for the South-east zone; Dr. Obadiah Mailafia, former deputy governor, CBN representing the North-central zone; and Mr. Mahey Rasheed, board member, First Bank, who represented the North-west; and Mr. Hassan Usman, CEO, Aso Savings & Loans for the North-east zone.

The minister acknowledged that the road leading to the composition of the board had been difficult but worthwhile as the country stands to gain immensely from the fund.

“With this development, the country is firmly on the path to reaping the benefits of this tried and tested strategy for achieving fiscal prudence and economic transformation.

“The establishment of an institutional foundation for the Sovereign Wealth Fund is a victory for all Nigerians and a credit to the president who assented to the bill in May last year,” she added.

The minister noted that with the $1 billion take-off capital, the SWF would  for now operate side by side the Excess Crude Account (ECA), which currently has $7.3 billion in its till.

Providing further insight into the guidelines for allocations under the SWF, the minister said the three ring-fenced windows of the fund — Future Generations Fund, Nigerian Infrastructure Fund and Stabilisation Fund – would each get 20 per cent, while allocation of the remaining 40 per cent would be determined by the board and management based on macroeconomic variables

She also disclosed that a five-year rolling plan for each of the three windows that constitute the fund would be developed.

Following a protracted disagreement with the state governors over its establishment, the minister last October had announced the commencement of the SWF with a take-off capital of $1 billion.

Shortly after the announcement, the governors headed to court to stop the commencement of the fund.

However, there have been negotiations between the governors and the Federal Government to reach an out-of-court settlement on the matter.

That the fund has not grown beyond the $1 billion since October last year is indicative of the fact that the governors may have stuck to their guns.

The Board of Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority

Mahey Rasheed

Chairing the NSIA is Alhaji Mahey Rafindadi Rasheed. A seasoned economist with extensive experience gained as a banking system regulator from years of service at the CBN, Rasheed retired from the CBN in 2004 as the Deputy Governor, Operations.

After his first degree in Economics from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, he started his career at Northern Nigeria Development Company in 1978, where he rose to the position of Principal Investment Executive. He also sat on the board of Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company as chairman and currently seats on the board of First Bank of Nigeria Plc. In addition to his first degree, Rasheed has a post-graduate diploma from the University of Essex, U.K and an MPA (Master of Public Policy and Administration) from Harvard University, U.S.A.

Uche Orji

Before his appoint as managing director of NSIA, Mr. Uche Orji was one of the Managing Directors in the UBS Group, one of the world’s leading investment bank.

Prior to his stint at UBS, Orji worked at J.P. Morgan Securities in London. Orji has also held top positions in the Thomson Reuters Extel Survey. He was previously, an analyst and fund manager with Goldman Sachs Asset Management based in London. He has also worked with Diamond Bank Ltd and Arthur Andersen LLP.

Orji holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering from the University of Port Harcourt.

Arnold Ekpe

Arnold Ekpe currently holds the position of Group Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI), Lome, Togo. Ekpe joined the bank as Group CEO in 2005.

Prior to ETI, Ekpe was the CEO of United Bank for Africa from 2002 until 2004. He has over 30 years African and international banking experience, having also worked for Citibank and First Chicago. He was Vice-President and Head of Structured Trade and Corporate Finance for sub-Saharan Africa for Citibank.

He holds degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Business Administration from Manchester University and Manchester Business School respectively.
Ekpe, 58, will step down as ETI’s Group CEO at the end of this year.

Jide J. Zeitlin

Jide Zeitlin is currently a private investor. He formerly served as a partner at Goldman, Sachs & Co, where his career included a number of senior management positions in the investment banking division focused on the industrial, consumer and healthcare industries. He also served in the firm's executive office.

Zeitlin currently serves as Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Amherst College, Massachusetts, USA, and is a member of the Boards of Milton Academy, the Harvard Business School Board of Dean’s Advisors, Teach for America, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Montefiore Medical Centre, Playwrights Horizons and Common Ground Community.

Hassan Usman

Hassan Usman, a chartered accountant, is the currently the CEO of ASO Savings & Loans Plc. Prior to his current appointment, he had worked with the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) and Citibank Nigeria. Usman graduated with a B.A (Hons) degree in Economics from the University of Sussex and an M.Phil in Development Economics from Darwin College, University of Cambridge.

He is an Associate of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.

Olabisi Soyebo (SAN)

She attended the College of St. Elizabeth, New Jersey, United States where she obtained a B.A (Hons) in Sociology in 1985. She subsequently proceeded to the University of Buckingham, Buckingham, England, where she graduated with an LL.B (Hons) in Law in 1987. She was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1988 and has since been in active legal practice with Abdullahi Ibrahim & Co.

Ibukun Bili Awosika

Bili Awosika is a consummate businesswoman with many years of experience in the private sector and with major interests in furniture and fittings concerns. She worked with Akintola Williams & Co. before establishing Quebees Limited in 1989 and The Chair Centre in 1997. Both are reputable furniture companies located on Victoria Island.
Awosika also serves on the boards of other companies.

Stella Ojekwe-Onyejeli

Mrs. Stella Ojekwe-Onyejeli was Operational Risk Head at Barclays Bank. Before Barclays, she was a Senior Manager, Arthur Andersen between 1993 and 2003. She is a graduate of Cranfield School of Management, Cranfield University, United Kingdom.

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