Nigeria

President Buhari inaugurates NSIA board, urges members to boost economic diversification

President Muhammadu Buhari has unveiled “Nigeria Jubilee Fellows”, a programme designed to create new opportunities for 20,000 fresh graduates annually.

President Muhammadu Buhari has urged the new board of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) to make more investments that support economic diversification.

The president made the call while inaugurating the third Board of the NSIA at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Wednesday.

He said that the call had become imperative in view of the fact that global oil prices were projected to drop to around 40 dollars per barrel by 2030.

The President reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to implementing long term projects and programmes that would create more jobs for Nigerians.

He noted that the full impact of most of the strategic projects started under his watch would only be felt long after he had left office.

He described the appointment of the 9-man board as a call to duty, action and performance, adding that they were eminently qualified for the job.

‘‘This Government operates on the agenda for long term change which we all agree is inevitable. Change happens whether you are ready for it or not.

‘‘As representatives of the Federation, you are required to continue to drive the performance of the Authority to deliver benefits to all Nigerians.

‘‘You must bear in mind that the National Economic Council, your Governing Council and Nigerians as a whole will hold you accountable for this mandate.

‘‘Periodically, you will be required to provide evidence of your stewardship at the Governing Council Meetings where your performance will be assessed.

‘‘The bar before you is very high and all of us are counting on you to deliver. If you do, I assure you that Government and indeed all Nigerians will be unflinching in their support for you,’’ the President said.

The President recounted that NSIA, which was one of Nigeria’s premier economic institutions, was conceived to be a store of wealth that may be drawn upon at times of economic challenges thereby encouraging external investors and lenders.

He expressed delight that so far the institution had discharged its mandate dutifully.

‘‘This is why we prioritised the appointment of a new Board to ensure that the Authority does not lose steam and can continue to benefit from the oversight it needs to deliver on its mandate.

‘‘The new Board we assembled has a crop of seasoned, eminently qualified, and experienced professionals.

‘‘We expect these individuals to bring their wealth of experience to bear, in the next phase of NSIA’s journey,’’ he said.

The President thanked the last Board of Directors whose tenure ended in May.

He acknowledged their commitment, dedication and contributions to the implementation of the objectives of the Authority.

‘‘This distinguished group of patriotic Nigerians heeded the call to serve and deployed the best of their abilities to oversee the affairs of the Authority on behalf of the nation over the last four years.

“The immediate past Board guided the organisation through a critical stage of its existence and have left it standing as a credible world-class institution that turns out consistently good results.

‘‘This Administration took the very difficult decision to invest for the long term. We avoided taking shortcuts knowing very well that the full impact of most of the projects we started will only be felt long after we have left office.

‘‘Accordingly, in the past four years, both the public and private sectors in Nigeria have partnered on strategic projects with the NSIA.’’

On the public sector partnership, the President stated that his administration was working with the NSIA on strategic infrastructure projects such as the Second Niger Bridge, the Lagos – Ibadan Express Way and the Abuja – Kano Road.

Buhari disclosed that the Federal Government was collaborating with the private sector to deliver projects such as the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative, the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Initiative and the NSIA Healthcare Development and Investment Company amongst many.

‘‘Although these projects and programmes have immediately created jobs from a development standpoint, the wider impact on society will only be felt in years to come,’’ he said.

The new Board members are Farouk Mohammed Gumel (North West) as Non-Executive Chairman; Babatunde Sobamowo (South West), Non-Executive Director; Isiekwena Ikemefuna Louis (South-South) Non-Executive Director.

Others are Ali Goni Kadugum (North East), Non-Executive Director; Oniyangi Kabir Sulaiman (North Central), Non-Executive Director; and Ike Chioke (South East), Non-Executive Director.

In her remarks, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, said from the base position of one billion dollars when the Administration assumed office in 2015, NSIA now has around 3.5 billion dollars in assets under management.

She explained that the Board would, on behalf of the Nigerian people, guide and oversee the NSIA Management’s activities towards delivering outcomes to transform the fortunes of the country.

‘‘Using the NSIA Act as its guide, the Board will be required to superintend initiatives that meet the current and future needs of Nigerians.

‘‘On our part as Government, we will continue to support the Authority with the necessary policies and framework to ensure that the mission of the institution is delivered in a transparent, sustainable and inclusive manner,’’ she said.

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