FG appoints board for Sovereign Wealth Fund

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

The Managing Director of the Sovereign Wealth Fund was a former MD at financial giant, JP Morgan.

Emmanuel Ogala & Ini Ekott

The Federal government has appointed Mahey Rasheed, a member of the Board of First Bank, to head the board of Nigeria’s Sovereign Wealth Fund.

The finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, announced the appointment on Tuesday in a statement.

The Global Coordinator and Head of U.S. Semiconductor Research, Uche Orji, was also appointed Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Fund.

The minister said Mr. Orji’s appointment followed his top performance in the contest for the position. His appointment is for a term of five years.

Mr. Orji, who is also a Co-Head of U.S. Tech Sector Research, at global investment bank, UBS, also previously served as Managing Director at JP Morgan.

Other members of the board include: Arnold Ekpe, Jide Zeitlin, Bili Awosika, Bisi Soyebo, Hassan Usman, and Stella Ojekwe-Onyejeli, who will also serve as Chief Risk Officer.

The Fund will have no investment officer yet.

“Upon completion of due diligence, the candidate for Chief Investment Officer has been dropped and the position will be re-advertised shortly,” Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala said.

“In all, 730 applications were received for three executive positions – Chief Executive Officer, Executive Director (Investments), and Executive Director (Risk). 40 of these were long listed by KPMG which assisted in sourcing suitable candidates, 16 candidates were short listed before the final three were selected,” the minister added.

The new MD/CEO, Mr. Orji, will assume duties in October, the ministry added.

Implementation of the Sovereign Wealth Fund will commence with an initial fund of $1 billion. The Fund will be managed by the Nigerian Investment Authority (NSIA).

Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala described the establishment of the Sovereign Wealth Fund as “a victory for all Nigerians and a credit to the President who assented to the Bill in May last year.”

“We have started putting together a quality team to ensure that we realize the objectives that inspired the establishment of the SWF,” Mrs Okonjo-Iweala, said. “I am sure the team realizes what is at stake and is ready to do the necessary work so that the country can start enjoying the benefits as soon as possible.”

President Goodluck Jonathan assented to the bill on May 27, 2012.

State Governors initially opposed the Fund, describing it as illegal, and saying it would deny them the opportunity to have enough money to develop their states.

The fund is to replace the Excess Crude Account, which holds the differential in oil revenues above annual benchmark price.

A controversial and illicit account, the ECA has been trailed by transparency and accountability concerns with its balance – reaching $20 billion in 2007- arbitrarily shared between the federal and state governments.

The account currently holds about $5 billion despite years of record high oil prices.

The Sovereign wealth fund will provide 20 percent apiece, of its total for a future generation savings, infrastructure development and the stabilization of the economy respectively.

Nigeria was one of only three OPEC member states without a sovereign wealth fund.

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