JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs lobby Nigeria for Sovereign Wealth Fund

26 October 2011, Sweetcrude, Abuja – Wall Street titans, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan Chase, are lobbying top Nigerian government officials for the management of the country’s newly launched Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF).

According to the New York Times, which disclosed this on Tuesday, the Fund was expected to buffer the Nigerian economy from volatile commodity prices and impose fiscal stability.

But, the fund is currently enmeshed in controversy following opposition of governors of Nigeria’s 36 states to its establishment.

New York Times quoted the Minister of Trade and Investment, Dr. Olusegun Aganga, who helped to create the proposal for the fund, as saying: “The country is at a point of inflection, and what we do in the next few years will set the pace. It’s a land of opportunities, which unfortunately has not been tapped well.”

Aganga added: “It’s important that we have some savings for the future generations. It just makes sense for your economy. You’re completely exposed otherwise.”

According to the American-based newspaper, by saving and investing the petro dollars, Nigeria hoped to break the resource curse.

“The nation, which derives 80 per cent of its revenue from oil, created the sovereign wealth fund to buffer its economy from volatile commodity prices and impose fiscal discipline. The government so far has set aside $1 billion for the fund, and it could funnel as much as $2.5 billion a year, if oil prices remain high,” it added.

Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, had said that the Nigerian governmnet would recruit the management team for the Fund through a transparent process.

She had said the government, which was targeting the best qualified Nigerians within and outside the country, had commenced with the engagement of KPMG to drive the process.

Okonjo-Iweala also revealed that advertisements calling for applications from interested Nigerians would soon be published in The Economist and Financial Times of London.
KPMG was expected to conclude a shortlist of the candidates by mid- November.

Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Governor of Rivers State, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, meanwhile, has said state governments are willing to partner the Federal Government in the implementation of Sovereign Wealth Fund if they are given the latitude to access their funds and make individual contributions to the common purse.

Amaechi said this Tuesday while speaking at a colloquium titled: “Jurisprudence, Democracy and Rule of Law” held at the state House of Assembly, Port Harcourt, to commemorate the Supreme Court judgment that ushered him into office in October 2007.

Speaking against the backdrop of the suit instituted on Monday by the NGF against the Federal Government at the Supreme Court seeking to block the latter from the operation of the SWF, he said: “The rule of law eliminates completely the rule of man. Governors agree that the Federal Government should save but the law has to be respected. What the Federal Government has done is merely kidnapping of our money.”

He explained that the SWF, “like all things in the country”, must fall within the ambit of the law.

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