The House of Representatives on Thursday rejected a Bill seeking to scrap the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) and transfer of its assets and liabilities to the Ministry of Finance Incorporated.
The proposed legislation titled: “A Bill for an Act to Repeal the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority Act and Transfer the Assets and Liabilities to the Ministry of Finance Incorporated; and for Related Matters is being sponsored by Noon Oluwole Oke (Osun- PDP) the Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts (PAC)
The rejected Bill provides that: “All funds currently in the custody of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (hereinafter be referred to as the Authority) shall be transferred to the Federation Account and all investments made by the Authority shall be managed by the Ministry of Finance Incorporated
established pursuant to the Ministry of Finance Incorporated Act”.
However, after the debate on the general principles of the Bill when it was mentioned for second reading, majority of the lawmakers voted against it, insisting that repealing the NSIA was not in the best interest of the country adding that it at variant with the Constitution.
The sponsor of the Bill, Hon Oke argued that the Authority was established in 2011 to among other things, manage and save resources for Nigerians but some of its functions are already been performed by Central Bank of Nigeria, hence it should be repealed.
According to him, “My prayer is that this Bill be allowed to scale through second reading, so that we can carry out a very comprehensive work, invite members of the public to speak on whether this body (NSIA) doesn’t contravene section 162 of the Constitution.”
However, other lawmakers had different opinions such as Henry Nwawuba who said there was every need for Nigerian to guard against eventualities, hence NSIA was still relevant in managing the country’s Sovereign Wealth Fund.
According to him, “I want to state on record that there’s a benefit of having a Sovereign Wealth Fund, there must have been a reason Nigeria decided to save for the rainy day. It should be taken into consideration as we debate on this. We should look at merits and demerits”.
On his own, Hon Chris Azubogu, noted that scraping NSIA and transferring the Sovereign Wealth Fund to the Ministry of Finance will project and portray Nigeria in a light that is not acceptable internationally.
Hon Azubogu explained that Sovereign Wealth Fund as an institution had been involved in sourcing funds globally and a lot of people have had some trust to do business with Nigeria based on that.
“Let us step down this Bill do further consultation, engage. The agency does not do proper reports to National Assembly, going forward we will give them chance to come and explain to us what they are doing. If there are things we need to amend in the Act to make them more responsible to National Assembly we will do that than repealing it,” he stated.
Another member, Hon Ayokunle Isiaka Ibrahim while opposing the proposed legislation said: “I’m against this Bill. The little that I know, the sovereign investment fund was a creation of this parliament to serve some peculiar purposes. The question is the purpose being met or not?
Hon Lynda Ikpeazu pointed out that it was important for lawmakers to look at the intendiments behind enacting the NSIA Act 2011 and understand why it was set up in the first place then they can take a decision.
According to her, “The sponsor made a reference to section 162 of the constitution. But when you look at 162(3,4), you will find out that this parliament set up this fund. Now that is not to say we can’t repeal, but what I am saying is that it doesn’t offend it.”