A former Minister of Finance, Olusegun Aganga has revealed that so many assets held currently by departments, agencies and ministries in Nigeria are not managed properly.
Aganga said this at a webinar organised by EY Nigeria Alumni on Thursday evening. He said the country needed to actively manage assets to effectively grow the economy.
He said, “As a country, we do have so many assets held by different MDAs that are not actively managed. I am not even sure we have a comprehensive list of those assets.
“This is a role that can be dedicated to the Nigerian Sovereign Wealth Fund. The NSIA needs a stronger political will from the government to deliver fully on its mandate.”
The former minister said the effect of COVID-19 that has produced high level debt, unemployment gives credence to take decisive actions to improve the economy.
He said, “More than ever, the time to be bold, to take decisive action, to strengthen, to grow and diversify the economy and to empower the NSIA to play its critical role is now.
“Our population is growing faster than our economy, and that only means one thing: more poverty, with social unrest as a possible result. We can do something about it now.”
Aganga said the SWF plays prominent roles in the global financial system.
“The largest funds are held by resource-rich countries and these are Asian economies. Sovereign Wealth Funds in several countries have economic diversification as a mandate in addition to providing an additional buffer against commodity risks, ” Aganga said.
“Contrary to what most people say or think, the NSIA, which is our own sovereign wealth fund, is not just a savings and stabilisation thing. It was meant to be a tool for economic diversification and development.”
He said, “The NSIA has the ability to invest in developmental projects; its subsidiaries or affiliates can issue bonds or other debt instruments or raise finance from outside sources.
“I recall that when we were setting up the NSIA, some of the governors opposed it at the time and said that there was no need to save for the rainy day. I would say the rainy days are now here with us.”