By Ben Agande, Abuja.
Leading financial services firm, JP Morgan, has been appointed by the Federal Government as the custodian of the Sovereign Wealth Fund preparatory to the formal take off of the fund next month.
This is coming on the heels of disclosure by the Minister of Finance and the Coordinating Minister of the Economy (CME), Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala that the fund’s operation would be administered through three structures namely, Stabilization Fund, Infrastructure Fund and Future Generation Fund.
Briefing state House correspondents after the meeting of the National Economic Council, the Chief Executive Officer of the SWF, Mr. Uche Orji, said every thing has been put in place for the take off of the fund in March.
Mr Orji who briefed state House correspondents alongside the governor of Anambra state, Peter Obi, the Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as well as the Minister of National Planning, Shamsudeen Usman revealed that he was in the process of recruiting members of staff of the fund.
“The strategies we are going to deploy is obviously hybrid; we will have some external managers managing some of the funds for us and some would be run in-house. JP Morgan has been selected as our custodian. We also have investment consultants,” he said.
Giving further insight on the operation of the fund, Okonjo-Iweala said investment strategies had already been prepared for the Fund’s three windows that include the stabilisation window, infrastructure investment window and the future generation window.
“The $1bn that has been put aside will be allocated into the three windows and investments can begin shortly according to the strategy,” she explained.
Speaking on other decisions of the Council, governor Peter Obi said “The council discussed the issue of corruption and decided that there should be a special session to discuss corruption and issue of mismanagement of resources in the Nigeria,” he said.
His position was collaborated by the Minister of Finance who noted that NEC’s position on corruption was the same as those of president Jonathan.
“On the issue of corruption, the NEC is saying what can we do to ensure that in every sector, there is transparency and accountability. From the finance point of view, this is something the President wants. The fact that it was debated and it would further be debated is a good omen.
On the corruption in the administration of pension, Okonjo-Iweala said “We have to clean up the system. The problem lies in the old pension system. We are building, according to the PENCOM law, a new department that will take over the management of those pension funds and make sure that people no longer have access to mismanage the fund.
“The contributory pension scheme under the PENCOM has nothing wrong with it. The old pension scheme is what we are tightening up”.
Speaking on the deteriorating position of the educational system, Governor Peter Obi
who is the Deputy Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) said the committee set up by the federal government on the educational challenge in the country was further directed to look into the problems bedeviling primary and secondary education in the country.
The additional responsibility he said was necessitated by the fact that the two levels of education are the backbone of educational development in the country.
“Council is fully aware of the problems in the education sector but it has to find ways to mitigate many of these problems aggressively. It is just to say let us turn it around- have qualified teachers, instructional materials and others,” he said.