Yar’Adua Foundation Calls for Review of Nigeria’s Stabilisation Fund Mechanisms

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    Peace Obi

    With little or nothing to show for the five circles of oil boom Nigeria has experienced since the discovery of oil in the country, the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Foundation has called on the Federal Government to review the nation’s stabilisation fund mechanisms.

    The Director of Public Policy Initiative, Mr. Amara Nwankpa, who made this known in Ikeja Wednesday at the Foundation’s roundtable meeting with the theme “A Savings Stabilisation Mechanism for Nigeria”, said that Nigeria needs to reform its public finance management for the country’s oil wealth to result into equitable economic benefits for the citizenry. He noted that the country despite earning more than one trillion dollars from oil since 1970, about 83.6 million Nigerians are still living in extreme poverty.

    According to Nwankpa, the Oil Revenue Tracking Initiative of the Yar’Adua Foundation convened the meeting of civil society organisations, community groups and media in South-West region to provide them information regarding the need for effective fiscal and oil governance frameworks and encourage them to demand accountability.

    The Foundation in a communique issued at the end of the roundtable called for a collapse of the Excess Crude account and 0.5 per stabilisation account into the stabilisation of the Sovereign Wealth Fund. The civil society organisation called on government to place “priority on investment over consumption, increase transparency regarding revenue inflow and outflow from the Federation.”

    “Government should follow due process in management of the ECA in line with demands from CSOs and the Fiscal Responsibility Commission, also ensure that energy data and statistics are accessible to the public.

    “Increase transparency regarding revenue inflow and outflow from the Federation Account. Ensure that the Niger Delta Master Plan is revised and fully implemented. Ensure that disbursement of funds from stabilisation accounts is absolutely discouraged. Ensure that all tiers of government meet their financial obligations to the Sovereign Wealth Fund account.

    “Norway serves as an example to Nigeria regarding an effective savings and stabilisation mechanism. By May 2018, Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, established in 1990, had accumulated approximately one trillion dollars. It is projected that by 2030, the fund will have increased to three times its current size. This will ensure a monthly income of $1,500 per Norwegian”, the communique read.

    The former Minister of Education, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, speaking on a topic, “Safeguarding Fiscal Adjustments in Nigeria – Policy Options” noted that it is unfortunate that the country’s huge oil revenue is spent on running unnecessary large government.

    She said, “The problem of high cost of governance is not only at the Federal level but also state and local of governments. The fact that more than 80 per cent of state governments depend mostly on FAAC for more than 80 per cent of their budgetary revenue made it imperative for public discourse on reduction of cost of governance to extend to the 36 states and the 774 local government areas.”

    The former Minister called on the government to move the country forward by consciously investing in human capital, physical and institutional development.
    In his presentation, “Improving Public Awareness and Advocacy on Stability Mechanism for Nigeria”, Dr. Andrew Onyeanakwe of Kandyson Konsult Limited, called on Nigerian government to adopt strategic and implementable policy to insulate the budget. Adding that, “government should continually place priority on investment over consumption.” He noted that oil, despite contributing about 95 per cent to the nation’s revenue has not significantly impacted the lives of Nigerians. According to him, the more the countryside reserve is depleted and shared among the three tiers of government, very little goes into capital expenditures. Adding that many states have not been able to improved their integral generated revenue because of dependence on the federal allocation.