…Describe proposal as major illegality
By Tordue SALEM
The House of Representatives may passÂ Â Â a motion next week rejecting the proposal byPresident Goodluck Jonathan to establish a â€˜Sovereign Wealth Fundâ€™Â for Federal, State and Local government in the country.
The SWF has been mooted by the Federal Ministry of Finance as panacea to the lingering problem ofÂ â€˜non-accountabilityâ€™ by the various tiers of government. The Ministry thinks that if established as proposed, it would be a quasi-Federation account in which monies meant for infrastructure development by the three tiers of government would be lodged.
Â But the Chairman, House Committee on Governmental Affairs, Rep. Leonard Okuweh Ogor(PDP/Isoko-Delta State), while briefing journalists at the weekend, said he, along with other â€œno-nonsense members of the House would next week move a motion to reject the proposalâ€
He described the SWF as a â€œA major illegalityâ€, that â€œwill be nothing different from what the Executive during President Olusegun Obasanjoâ€™s tenure called Excess Crude Accountâ€ He said the proposal, as it stood, violates sections 80 and 162 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and must be dropped forthwith.
â€œIn a Federalism where we have federating units, there is no room for something like a Sovereign Wealth Fund, so the President and whoever has given him this idea, should perish the thought and save us from further embarrassment and unnecessary controversy which is hardly needed at this time, in our dear Country
â€œThe Ministry of Finance and the entire Presidency needs to be guided by section 162 and 80 of the 1999 Constitution. The President lacks the power to create that fund, because it negates the clear principle of section 162 of the 1999 Constitution.
There is no way a Sovereign Fund for the three tiers of government would be created, when those sections of the Constitution state clearly where all monies belonging to the various tiers of government should go. â€œSection 162 of the 1999 Constitution, has not been amended, so it will amount to a clear illegality that violates that section, up to subsection 10â€.
Â He said Section 162(1) states in part that: â€œThe Federal Government shall maintain a special Account, which shall maintain all revenuesâ€ accruable to all tiers of government. while section 80 of the Constitution creates a Consolidated Revenue Fund for the Federal Government, and section 120, creates â€œa consolidated Revenue Fund for Statesâ€.
The lawmaker, who has been in the Green Chamber since 2003, said the 1999 Constitution has even taken care of the junior tiers of government, in section 120 by establishing â€œa Consolidated Revenue Fundâ€ for them, therefore a new sovereign fund which is in â€œcontent and characterâ€, the same as a Federation Account, would be superfluous and extremely illegal.
He submitted that the most annoying part is that, the National Assembly was even by-passed by the Presidency, in violation to sub-section (10) of section 162 of the 1999 Constitution, which imposes on the Executive, the responsibility to lay such proposals before the National Assembly.