Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja
Following the approval of its strategy document and the progress made with its investment policy guidelines, the Ministry of Finance has announced that the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) is expected to commence investment in a variety of instruments by March 2013.
The Coordinating Minister for the Economy ((CME) and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who gave an update on the fund in a statement issued yesterday by her Special Adviser, Media, Mr. Paul Nwubuikwu, said that the strategy document was ratified by the board of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) chaired by Alhaji Mahey Rasheed.
According to the minister, in order “to ensure that the blueprint is ready on time, the board was said to have met twice since its inauguration on October 9 to review and reshape the draft submitted by the management team led by the Managing Director of NSIA, Mr. Uche Orji.
She added that the investment policy guidelines and the processes for the three fund mandates of the NSIA are on the verge of being finalised, noting that the country was poised to benefit significantly if the momentum is maintained.
“There is still a lot of hard work ahead; we need to remain focused and disciplined so that we can reap the rewards. We are not yet there but we are on the right track. The question we must keep asking ourselves is: Other countries have benefitted from SWF. Why not Nigeria?” She queried.
She revealed that efforts to hire key personnel and acquire a functional office had also reached an advanced stage.
Orji, who was appointed MD in October following an international head hunt, also explained that plans were in the offing to appoint a Chief Investment Officer (CIO) for the fund, adding that so far, 300 applications for the position had been submitted.
“We are in the process of filling the role of the CIO. We received 300 resumes for the CIO role and will soon commence the process of short-listing the candidates. We hope to have the interviews early next year and have a CIO in place by early March,” he said.
He stated that other key management and staff positions in the NSIA would be advertised, adding that it was being projected that the full complement of staff would be in place by the first quarter of 2013.
To ensure that resources are maximised, Orji noted that prudence will be the cornerstone of the management at the NSIA, adding that the organisation would operate lean model at the early stages.
Orji further disclosed that in seeking the best investment opportunities for Nigeria, the NSIA would not limit itself but would search for the best deals wherever they could be found in the world.
“There are no geographical restrictions or product restrictions for the Future Generation and Fiscal Stabilisation Fund, and we expect to invest across the full spectrum of products – equities, fixed income, alternative assets, etc – in accordance with our five-year rolling plan, that will provide superior risk adjusted returns for the future generations of Nigerians,” he said.
The SWF, which was started with a seed capital of $1 billion drawn from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) is designed to build a savings base for the Nigerian people, enhance the development of local infrastructure and provide stabilisation support in times of economic stress.
The three fund mandates outlined in the NSIA Act include the Future Generation Fund, Nigeria Infrastructure Fund and Fiscal Stabilisation Fund with each fund holding at least 20 per cent of the assets under management.