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Buhari tasks Finance board to grow FG assets from 18trn to 100trn in 10 years

By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari has charged the Ministry of Finance Incorporated (MOFI) to grow its Assets Under Management from the current value of 18 trillion Naira, to at least 100 trillion Naira in the next 10 years.

Buhari gave the charge on Wednesday at the launch of the new MOFI and inauguration of the Governing Council and Board of Directors of the body shortly before the commencement of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja..

The President also tasked the new board to, “be the clearinghouse for the management of Federal Government investments and assets in line with global best practices with a view to ensuring that these investments are delivering superior risk-adjusted returns to the government.”

He also called on the new MOFI to, “work with other MDAs to create a consolidated national asset register with a view to converting these assets into cashflow-generating entities to support the government’s revenue drive and; partner with the government with a view to using government-owned investments and assets to support the government in delivering on its social and economic obligations to the citizenry.”

To this effect, he directed the Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed to commence the process of amending the MOFI Act and other legislations to further institutionalize this reform and ensure that MOFI is restructured and repositioned to become a trusted custodian and manager of Federal Government investments and assets.

Buhari said the event was significant as the restructured MOFI will help identify “what we own” and how to get the best out of them.

According to him, the MOFI Act of 1959 now Cap. 229, Laws of the Federation, 2004 “explicitly empowers MOFI to enter into commercial transactions of any description on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria in its own name. As a result, MOFI was used as a Special Purpose Vehicle across different sectors, to invest in commercial entities over the last 64 years. To put this in context, MOFI was created even before Nigeria’s independence.”

Speaking further, the President said “MOFI was not structured to be governed or resourced to deliver on the mandate that was expected of it. MOFI’s peers, on the other hand, that were deliberately set up with the institutional framework, governance structure, and execution capacity have gone on to make major social and economic impacts in their respective nations. Many of which have become global brands for investing domestically and internationally.

“As part of the governance structure, there will be a Governing Council headed by me, a Board of Directors under the leadership of a former Minister of Finance, Dr Shamsudeen Usman, and an Executive Management Team headed by Dr Armstrong Takang,” the President said.

Buhari reminded members of the Governing Council as well as Board of Directors that this Administration expected much from them. Specifically, he tasked Ministers who are members to “create an enabling environment that will facilitate the creation of a National Asset Register that will be harnessed to strengthen our fiscal and economic realities and the optimization of our investments and assets that will be under the purview of MOFI.”

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, in her remarks, thanked President Buhari for his support and approvals that have made the restructuring and repositioning of MOFI possible, assuring him that Council members and Board will ensure that the new MOFI delivers on its mandates.

Speaking with newsmen after the inauguration, the chairman and former minister of Finance, Shamsudeen Usman, said it’s a very enormous task but they were going to hold the inaugural board meeting though a lot of work has been done with the appointment of consultants who’ve done a 10 year strategic plan that has identified most of the key things that need to be done.

Usman assured, “Even though our task is mighty and difficult, I am reliant on a number of things. One is that the quality of the people that have been elected, or appointed to the board, and to the Governing Council; second is the amount of work initial work that has been done already and third the experience of other countries.

“The President mentioned the experience of Tommasi in Singapore, there are many other examples of countries that have turned their national investments into assets that are generating income.

“Unfortunately, for us, MoFI has been a very silent and more or less lazy owner of some of the biggest assets that we have in this country, estimated value currently of about N18-19 trillion; and clearly these assets can be turned around with good corporate governance with corporate restructuring to produce, first of all to enhance their value, as well as to unlock other opportunities for cooperating with the private sector.

Asked on some of these assets he will be carrying out this humongous task, the Chairman said, “We will do a detailed inventory of these assets to produce a credible National Register of these assets.”

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