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Sovereign Wealth Fund

 

SOVEREIGN WEALTH FUND, GOVERNORS NEED TO THINK ABOUT THE FUTURE

QUE.:  May we meet you sir?sen-enyinnaya-abaribe

SEN. ENYINAYA ABARIBE: My name is Enyinnaya Abaribe and I represent Abia South Senatorial District in Abia State, I

am a second term Senator, I came to the Senate 2009 and was re-elected in 2011. Presently because the committees have not been constituted, I really don't have anything to say as regards the particular committee I belong to and my job as the case may be.

QUE.:  As a cognate and ranking Member of Parliament, what in your opinion distinguishes the Seventh senate from the Sixth Senate?

SEN. ENYINAYA ABARIBE: I think it's too early to say because we have just resumed. Immediately after the election, we came back, we had to go on vacation and we are just coming in and the committees have not been constituted, but the essential focus of the seventh Senate if you listened to the Senate President yesterday where he said that this Senate will be focused on service delivery to the Nigerian people, good governance, peace, security and then work with the executive in furthering these aims of giving welfare to the people of Nigeria. Until we start performing then we will know whether there is any essential difference between both.

When we came in 2007, this was essentially what was said, there would be a difference; I think only about 30% of those who were in 2007-2011 came back, that means there are 70% new comers to the Senate and this 70% of course in some way affect the general tone of the Senate. Despite the fact that we have some established tradition, mores and ways that we conduct the Senate business, we will get to know in a short while what the inclination of everybody is. But I am very certain of one thing; there is absolutely nobody who has come into the Senate who is not committed to the idea of making Nigeria a strong and prosperous country and indivisible body. And so as much as possible, we have a set of patriotic people who have come in to work on the Nigeria project.

QUE.:  The N18,000 national minimum wage controversy between workers and State Governments started to brew no sooner the elections were won and lost. What would be your advice to the State Governments on this matter?

SEN. ENYINAYA ABARIBE: My advice will be that they must implement it; they were partners in agreeing to pay that minimum wage. I have to assume that they must have also done their costing properly and they were fully supportive in doing it so if they did so, if they all agreed to pay, I see no reason why they will not be able to line up their expectations. And of course there is something that is more important here, the question of trust of the public with the government.

Every government ought to keep its word and so if you are in the position of authority, you are negotiating on behalf of the government, and government has given you the plan as a governor on what to be done, you cannot turn around and say you will not do it and start to bring some other factor, I think if you really want my advice, what I think is that it is left for governors to look for creative ways of improving their revenues. Also to reduce cost in several areas because there's study that says close to 44% of public revenue is wasted which means there is enormous capacity of cost to be brought down in such a way that you can now pay this 18,000 Naira minimum wage without it affecting the running of the other parts of government.

QUE.:  Fiscal Federalism has been canvassed as a solution to the myriad of problems confronting the nation; who brings what, who takes what. What is your opinion as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria?

SEN. ENYINAYA ABARIBE: Nobody stops the State in acting the way they are supposed to act to the best interest of the citizens of that State. I also think that the word Fiscal Federalism is being misunderstood by those who continue to talk about it. When people talk about fiscal federalism, it means they want to change the revenue allocation formula and get more money. That is all they mean but they don't understand that if you want federalism of that sort you have to come with responsibilities and those responsibilities you must be able to take care of them, you can't have fiscal federalism in terms of just a change in the revenue allocation formula and you are not going to do the things that goes with it. Granted, there is need to review, the revenue allocation formula but I think that the people must go beyond merely saying it. There is so much waste and misappropriation and misapplication of resources so to say there is a need to change the way of doing business today in Nigeria.

QUE.:  The need to save for the future generation had spurred the enactment of the sovereign wealth fund Act among others. However, the State Governments are raising a legal team to invalidate it, what's your position on this?

SEN. ENYINAYA ABARIBE: When we passed the sovereign wealth fund bill, we had done all this in consultation with the Governors who were part of passing the sovereign wealth fund bill. Because if you remember, the sovereign wealth fund bill came from the Presidency after the meeting they held on it at the National Council of States meeting and every Governor was involved in the council of states meeting before they brought it to the National Assembly.

There is something very peculiar going on here where every governor wants every fund that comes to Nigeria to be expended immediately leaving nothing for the future. That is what has caused most of the problems we have today, most of the countries that are in the same position with us before now are able to export hydrocarbons and all that we cannot put to immediate use could have used the vehicle of sovereign wealth fund to take care of this and their investment today from sovereign wealth fund are actually bigger than what they get out of hydrocarbons and stuff like that.

You find really that we do not understand why they are against it. Let put it this way, the federal budget is predicated on a particular figure for a barrel of oil, say 65 dollars per barrel, now at the rate of 23,000,000 barrels per day assuming we are doing the 23,000,000 barrel per day but we are selling at $110 or $112 as the case may be, as it is today. What we find is that occasionally, the Federal Government comes and says we have excess money, what they call excess crude sent across to the Governors; I don't see what they do with this excess money. We are saying, instead of people just going ahead engaging in frivolous spending and of course stealing part of it, the best thing to do is to create a fund and put it there for tomorrow, this type of fund was created under the Obasanjo regime, it was called excess crude account and it was what was used during the Yar'Adua's era when the global crunch came.

The Federal Government and the State Government were still able to maintain their level of spending because they had to dip into that excess crude account. Now they want to formalize it. Don't call it excess crude make it something that can last that is money you can use for the future. Governors need to think about the future of their States, what comes after 25years, what happens to their citizens, what happens to those who are young now. And they now say that they don't want anything to be left for those people; the concept of generational equity now comes in. Why would we want to consume today? What should come to the generations that will come after us? Generational equity means that if you have what you need today you must be able to provide for the generation that is to come. These are simple concept in effective governance. We do not really see what the resistance to this thing is all about, why they should resist the sovereign wealth fund.

Senate Clears Ministerial Nominees

Published on: 2015-10-14 00:05:45 Hits : 11129
Senate Clears Ministerial Nominees No filibustering Final list released Screening continues Contrary to expectation today, the Nigerian Senate has cleared all Ministerial nominees with no filibustering. They are Mr. Kayode Fayemi, Chief Audu Ogbeh, Osagie Ehanire, Am...

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