The All Progressives Congress (APC) lawmakers in the House of Representatives yesterday said Federal Government’s farming out the management of $200 million Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) to foreign firms contravenes Section 1, Part 1 of the Fifth Schedule of the 1999 Constitution.
The Federal Government, on August 28, appointed Credit Suisse and Goldman and Sach and UBS to manage the $200 million, or 20 per cent of the country’s $1 billion SWF.
The progressives’ lawmakers have vowed to challenge the legality of the action.
Addressing reporters yesterday in Abuja, House Minority Leader Femi Gbajabiamila also accused the Federal Government of complicity in theft of the country’s crude oil.
He criticised the government for the non-implementation of this year’s budget.
The APC lawmaker, however, described the widening gulf between factions in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as a welcome development.
According to him, the APC is talking with and will embrace “progressive colleagues from the New PDP” to address several issues plaguing the country.
Gbajabiamila said: “We note with concern the various issues that presently have the potential of further sending our country into a downward spiral.
“These include the notorious and complicit oil theft, which the government so far seems to have neglected or fail to address and which is fast depleting the nation’s revenue; the implementation or non-implementation of the 2013 budget, which has the effect of stunting our development and growth as a nation; the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike, which seems not to abate and which government seems lost about as to what to do even though the answers are very clear and obvious and the general malaise and despondency pervading our country, not to talk of the culture of impunity exhibited by government at its highest levels.
“We, as a newly registered party and hopefully with the current schism in the PDP, hope to address these and many other issues together with our progressive colleagues from the New PDP.
“Talking about our collective wealth, we intend to look into the legality and morality of farming out the management of the Sovereign Wealth of a nation to foreign firms.
“This purportedly happened when we were on recess. The government, it appears, has stealthily and surreptitiously given the management of our sovereign wealth, particularly the future generations’ component, to three foreign firms. The ironic and oxymoronic nature of such a deal is not lost on the members of APC. We will be asking questions.
“The name ‘sovereign’ has its connotations even in economic matters. Just as you cannot contract out, for instance, the security of a country’s airport, among others, we believe you also cannot contract out its economic security.
“We also note that the management of the Sovereign Wealth Fund or Investment Authority, from all indications, is a very competent and capable hand, was a top manager with UBS Securities, one of the foreign firms appointed to manage our sovereign wealth. This, for us, presents a very dangerous conflict of interest the end result of which may not be in the overall interest of our country. This contravenes Section 1, Part I of the Fifth Schedule to the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
“As a party, we do not have two, three, four or sevenpoint agenda. We only have one, an agenda to save Nigeria and usher in Change, as our slogan suggests. It is under that one item agenda that we find many agendas.
“This is the agenda that brings change to a rotten education system, the agenda that reduces if not eliminates the scourge of poverty; the agenda that provides stable electricity as a right of every Nigerian, the agenda that would pursue the establishment of world-class hospitals, an agenda that would develop our infrastructure, that would make corruption, which has become cultural under a rudderless government, a thing of shame. It is an agenda that will make us a federal republic and not a unitary government. Indeed, it is an agenda that will make Nigeria earn the title ‘Giant of Africa’.
“We seek a partnership and a rainbow coalition with all Nigerians – young, old, men, women, Christian, Muslim, from the East, West, North or South, for we believe that though tribe or tongue may differ in brotherhood we stand”.
Information from The Nation was used in this report.