BY HENRY UMORU
ABUJA – NEGOTIATIONS between the Federal Government and the 36 state governors on the implementation of the Sovereign Wealth Fund, SWF have been deadlocked.
The meeting, held at the Rivers State Governor’s Lodge, Asokoro, Abuja, under the aegis of Nigeria Governors’ Forum, failed to reach an agreement with the Federal Government on modalities for the implementation of the SWF.
FG pressures govs
The Federal Government, it was gathered tried to pressurise the governors on the need for the funds.
The meeting, which started 9pm Wednesday ended 2am, yesterday, with most of the governors in attendance.
The Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who arrived for the meeting at 9.40 pm Wednesday, left 12.30am, yesterday, after conveying the Federal Government’s position to the governors.
A source at the meeting told Vanguard, that the Minister, who heads the economic team of the Federal Government tried to persuade the governors of the need for the SWF and also discourage the governors from the legal option to challenge the constitutionality of the Fund.
The source added that the Minister failed to convince the governors on the SWF and their plans to seek redress at the Supreme Court.
The governors, it was gathered had argued that in a federalism, the Federal Government cannot make laws to dictate for the federating units how to manage their funds.
Minister on the meeting
Ngozi-Iweala, who did not dwell on the issues raised at the meeting, simply told journalists when she came out, “we had negotiations with the governors. I am sure they will brief you.”
At the end of the meeting, Governor of Rivers State and Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, said, “Let me first thank the gentlemen of the press and add that the meeting was peaceful. We were not able to conclude on all the issues. We had to adjourn the meeting. We were briefed by the Minister of Finance and the Minister of State, Education.
We adjourned till the next meeting where we will meet and conclude all the issues and issue a communiqué.”
On what were discussed, Amaechi said, ‘’education, Sovereign Wealth Fund, state of finance.”
Asked what was discussed on Sovereign Wealth Fund, he said, ‘’nothing.”
After taking the presentation of the Minister of State, Education, Nyeson Wike, the governors, Vanguard gathered, that the Almajiri menace in the Northern part of the country was discussed, adding that it was agreed that model schools would be set up to absorb them.
The source also disclosed that the governors frowned at the non-accessibility of the Universal Basic Education, UBE, funds, which they agreed to look it as a national problem that must be addressed.
At the meeting were governors of Rivers, Edo, Ekiti; Plateau, Lagos; Bauchi; Delta; Anambra; Enugu; Zamfara; Kaduna; Borno; Taraba; Adamawa; Niger; Cross River; Gombe and Ogun.
Deputy governors of Kogi, Kano; Kebbi; Jigawa; Nasarawa and Kwara were also at the meeting.