By Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday in the Presidential Villa, Abuja inaugurated the new board of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) with the disclosure of fresh injection of $500 million into the scheme. Osinbajo said the fund was part of the federal government’s drive for economic growth and infrastructure development. Yesterday’s inauguration of the board was sequel to the earlier approval by the National Economic Council (NEC) in February, this year, of the nominees into the board from the six geo-political zones of the country. Members of the board chaired by Mr. Babajide Zeitlin will serve for a term of four years. While inaugurating the board, Osinbajo charged it to improve on the performance of NSIA by investing in key priority areas of the government such as agriculture and infrastructure.
He also said the board would be held accountable by both NEC and the generality of Nigerians which he said would require them to provide accounts of their stewardship. â€œAs 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 na- tionâ€™s growth and development. â€œAs representatives of the people, our charge is simple: we require you to fundamentally improve the performance of the Authority and strengthen its operations. â€œIndeed, despite the fiscally constrained environment, this administration has been able to increase the federal governmentâ€™s commitment to the NSIA by 50 per cent, committing an ad- ditional $500 million though the federal government is committed to saving. â€œThe 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 administrationâ€™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,” Osinbajo stated. The Acting President who also referred to the conceived modular refineries’ project in the Niger Delta as one keyÂ investment that would unlock the economic potential of the country, tasked the board to live up to expectation. â€œThe bar before you is high and all of us are counting on you to deliverâ€ as he proclaimed the board inaugurated to the â€œglory of the Almighty God and the enduring development of our nation.â€ Responding, the board chair- man, Zeitlin, thanked the federal government for the opportunity to serve, assuring that the board membership was â€œcommitted to doing so with utmost of integrity and transparency and we look forward to being held accountable.â€ According to him, the team will remain committed and simultaneously align itself with the policies of both the administration and the economic team.
Answering questions from journalists after the inauguration, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, said membership of the board were drawn by an executive search committee set up with the mandate to look for the best hands for the job from all parts of the country. According to her, the board consists of bankers, lawyers, people with oil and gas experi- ence and entrepreneurs as she expressed confidence that the board would fulfil its mandate. “We are very confident that this board will look after our future resources and provide very good decisions and guid- ance to the execute management in line with the administration’s expectations and requirements,â€ she said. Also speaking with journalists, the Managing Director of NSIA, Mr. Uche Orji, said the teamÂ would not only protect the fund for future generations, it would also invest in infrastructure and agriculture in accordance with government priorities. â€œWe 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,â€ Orji said. Members of the inaugurated board and their geo-political zones are: Babajide Zetilin (Chairman, South-west), Halima Buba (North-east), Bello Mac- cido (Northâ€“west), Lois Laraba Machunga-Disu (North-central), Urum Kalu Eze (South-east) and Asue Ighodalo (South-south). Other members of board include Uche Orji, Stella Ojekwe-Onyejeli and Hanspeter Acheermann.