Orji: FG, States Must Commit to Saving to Grow SWF

Uche Orji
  • Second Niger Bridge ready by 2022 

Peter Uzoho

The Managing Director of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), Mr. Uche Orji, Wednesday advised the federal, state and local governments to be consistent and committed in their contribution to the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) in order to grow the fund.

He also disclosed that the ongoing construction of the Second Niger Bridge would be completed by 2022.

Orji, said this Wednesday during an interview on Arise TV, a sister broadcast station of THISDAY.

According to the NSIA boss, the main driver of any SWF is consistency in contribution.

He pointed out that compared with the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the amount of contribution by the three tiers of government has remained low.

Orji explained, “So, there must be commitment to investing and growing the SWF. The real kicker for any SWF is the consistency of contribution. It is not that you started with $1 billion and it remains static. That is not going to help.

“That is because we have three mandates, the future generation, the stabilisation and infrastructure. By the way, we are the only one with those three mandates. Most other SWFs have only two mandates, stabilisation and future generation.

“That means for the NSIA to fulfill its mandate, it is all about consistency of contribution. There must be a consistent approach to investing in the SWF and the impacts should be measured in decades.

“We must be consistent at a start, and I think that is something we need to address as a nation.”

Commenting on the level of work on the Second Niger Bridge, he said, “Work is seriously going on at the site of the project.”

He said the bridge which is to connect people of the South-east with other parts of the country is a long term infrastructure projects being carried out by the agency.

According to him, the bridge has a construction term of 25 years.

He stressed that the nation would benefit immensely from it once it is completed.

He said, “We expect to finish the project by 2022. That includes the bridge, the access road, so it’s a big project. The bridge section alone is about 11.7 kilometres, and then you have an additional road section of 33 kilometres. So we expect construction to be done by 2022 at the latest. It’s a toll bridge; it’s a toll road that return can come out of it.

“Most of the panel has been done as at November 2. We expect that latest by June next year most of the pillars will be up and by the end of 2019, most of the slabs will be on. So you will actually see a bridge by 2019.

“Now the access roads will still take another couple of years before that can be completed. We are targeting commissioning between 2021 and 2022.”

Orji, however, pointed out that the agency has five key areas that it is involved in infrastructure projects. These, according to him, include road, power, agriculture, healthcare, and gas/gas-related infrastructure.

He said, “So on road, the Second Niger Bridge is one; Abuja-Kano Highway is second, and the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, which we had just released fund for that.

“In agriculture, we were involved in the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative, which has recorded spectacular success.”

He said the NSIA would be inaugurating some of the projects under the Infrastructure Fund that have been completed in January next year. “We are inaugurating a cancer centre in January at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital as part of the Public-Private Partnership. We are also inaugurating a diagnosis centre in Kano and Umuahia; that took 18 months to build.”

Speaking further, he said, “In terms of asset contributed to the fund, so far we have asset to fund to the tune of $1.5 billion. We have had returns over the last past years, we have been profitable for five years in a row but the returns are on top of what we have contributed to the government.

“So, $1.5 billon is the actual size of the contributions to the fund. Now, there are also third party funds that we manage on behalf of various agencies of government and also on behalf of government.

“There was $350 million that we manage for the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Plc (NBET), that mandate expired at the end of July 2018 and we returned the fund at the end of August 2018.

“Then, we also have $650 million, which we manage as part of the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund, again, funds that are not really part of the NSIA shareholder funds.

“Last year, we made profit of $95 million, and a year before, we made over $130 million profit. In terms of the status today, we are roughly at $1.8 billion.

“There are three funds: We started with 20 per cent Stabilisation Fund; 40 per cent in Future Generation Fund; and 40 per cent in the Nigeria Infrastructure Fund, with different horizons.”