By Danladi Ndayebo
Nigeria at the twilight of the Olusegun Obasanjo administration saw a window to set aside a certain percentage of its oil revenue earning and commenced a process of stocking excess crude revenue with multilateral agencies for future infrastructural development. Though there are contentious legal issues surrounding its implementation, the moral aspects of saving for the rainy day are infallible. The logic behind this global venture entails setting aside a fraction of our today’s earnings for future generations of Nigerlites. Encapsulated under a programme of action, the Niger state version of Sovereign Wealth Fund considers the welfarist option of ensuring that no matter how meagre the resources available to the State may be, a certain proportion of it must, as a matter of law, be invested in anticipation of our children’s future need.
The premise is simple. Niger state cannot continue the “feeding bottle” system of expecting money solely from the federation account which is based only on revenue from oil that has its peculiar challenges with more countries that hitherto relied on our oil now becoming oil-producing nations themselves. Equally, disturbing is the system that sees many states incapable of solving its problems if something radical is not done to save the future for the unborn generation with the manner successive administrations empty the treasury when leaving or even live on borrowed times while in office.
Determined to chart a new path of fiscal prudence and discipline in the management of scarce resources, the Niger State government decided to thrust the management on the professional cadre of the State civil service. It is an ingenious way to prepare for a new wave of economic transformation at this most critical trajectory of the State political evolution. The Niger State Commonwealth Fund is being managed by an amalgam of political thinkers and financial whizkids, including the Governor, representatives of the Senatorial districts and officials from the ministries of Justice, Finance, Investments, Commerce& Cooperatives, as well as representatives of women, civil society, youths, the academia and the council of traditional rulers.
It has been done in a way that the present does not suffer either. With a dedicated financial stream of 5percent of the gross internally generated revenue, 2percent proceeds of monthly revenue, 30percent of proceeds from excess crude revenue accruable to the State and the local governments from the Federation Account Allocation Committee, 30 percent of extraordinary savings or income due to the State and LGAs from time to time and investments portfolios in all companies it has shares, as well as those from assets of MDAs. Unlike in the past, the Babangida Aliyu is concerned about tomorrow’s Niger. Even when he quits the stage, the resources would have with compound interests withstood the inflation risk over time. Without doubt, these measures would collectively contribute to reducing the risk level inherent in the economy. The Niger economy will with time certainly become more attractive for Foreign Direct Investments (FDI). The high level seriousness the governor is pursuing this investment agenda signals government’s commitment to the global standards of transparency and accountability in the management of resources.
The culture of unrestricted spending of unanticipated income will be curtailed. Investments will be based on sound, clear and beneficial economic/financial parameters and up the availability of a Pool of Savings or Back-up Funds for future generations. Availability of an infrastructure fund will provide intervention in critical areas of the State economy because the infrastructure deficit of the state is legion and a major challenge that requires massive investments in resources. This benefit will cut across different sectors in line with due to the multidimensional nature of the potential/actual interventions. A prophet may be without honour in his home. But that lasts for a generation. Successive generations will applaud the foresight of a visionary with the knowledge of hindsight. It has always been so. Babangida Aliyu may have attracted as many friends as he has garnered foes, but this sovereign fund initiative is simply altruistic and beyond his time. For the future of young and unborn Nigerlites, the governor is committing today’s scare funds.
Danladi Ndayebo is the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu of Niger state