Sovereign Wealth Fund and Subsidy Wahala

The fight against corruption, whether to begin from the grass-root level or the top is everyone’s business. Looking at every pending issue confronting the nation, one could only agree that Nigerians have reached a point where they can no longer suffer and smile at the same time. From debates and controversies over Sovereign Wealth Fund and Subsidy Wahala, the confusing stalemates are compounding the distress of most citizens.

The State Governors have continued to argue that Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) is unconstitutional and is still an unsettled issue at the legislative chambers. How can we fight corruption when the elected public officers are dilly-dallying on issues that affect the citizenry?

One of the problems facing Nigeria is that matters that are key are supposed to be given urgent nd maximum attention are neglected; and there is a shift in focus to other issues evolving from selfish ambition of individuals involved. If Nigeria, out of lack of wisdom, at this point where she cannot sort out the problems of her people, would be raising/dwelling on an issue such as the SWF, then she should cover her face in shame in the midst of other nations!

Discipline, Honesty and Accountability are very important criteria for any form of leadership. Why I am chipping this is to say that if our leaders can live up to these criteria, if the Finance Minister can give account of the SWF and its returns as at when due, if our leaders can truly follow it up to see that the money is used appropriately and not embezzled, then and only then should the SWF be sustained. But the above criteria is deficient, hence, the reason there is a doubt in their ability to perform.

The fact that many countries have similar systems like SWF in place to combat future crises should be enough to justify having the same in Nigeria but we know how our leaders have betrayed us in the past and they could repeat the same with the proposed policy.

We have our vision 2020 in view, which is 9years from now. What concrete plans does Nigeria have on ground and how hard are we working towards the achievement of this vision? I believe the establishment of the Sovereign Wealth Fund with the excess crude account savings is a good starting point that would truly help Nigeria in time of financial crisis, if our leaders would (I say again) be honest and accountable. After all, Nigeria would have been in a financial coma during the global economic meltdown that sent shock waves down the economy, if not for the excess crude account savings.

Even if the SWF is not written in our constitution, it can still be incorporated, because the constitution is flexible. In all, I would say ‘let the Sovereign Wealth Fund be given a try.’   

On the of subsidy removal, I think President Goodluck Jonathan must tread carefully. The Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) has shown its complete disapproval on the issue of fuel subsidy removal. Professor Pat Utomi, former presidential candidate also dropped a bombshell when he disclosed that “Nigeria consumes a little less than half the amount of fuel imported.”

It seems President Goodluck Jonathan is being led by the nose probably by underground politicians, especially those who want him to ruin his administration with his own hands.

Many of us can remember the brief history of Mr. President-how he went to school without sandals, raised in abject poverty like many other Nigerians today. Is it that he has forgotten the days of his humble beginning and that he was put up there so he could help the downtrodden who paint the exact picture of where he originates. Mr. President should please listen to the voice of the masses, trade unions and legislators. He needs to address the issue of unemployment  which can be reduced by at least building refineries, rehabilitating existing ones and utilizing our crude oil derivatives to power our textile industries or even agriculture. These are industries that have been neglected for long. Why Nigeria still spends billions of naira on subsidies. If these refineries are put in shape, thousands will get jobs and crime rates will be reduced.

Survey has shown that 250,000 barrels per day capacity refinery costs about $5billion to install (which is a meager amount of what has been wasted in the past) and this can be completed in less than 2years. Instead of subsidizing fuel, why can’t Mr. President use funds for promising projects like this?

There should however be a measure of concern for the mass majority displayed in matters such as this. The government should not wait for private investors and hide under the guise of ‘they are contributing to the nation’s economy’. It is high time we begin to believe in ourselves and what God has blessed us with in Nigeria. I tag Nigeria as ‘a country with honour that knows it not’- that is why things are the way they are.

In the same vein, this very proposed act contradicts Section 16(2c) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which states that “The state shall direct its policy towards ensuring- that the economic system is not operated in such a manner as to permit the concentration of wealth or the means of production, distribution and exchange in the hands of few individuals or a group”.

In conclusion, what I am trying to say is that the president’s intended action is UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

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