22 December 2012

Nigeria: Oteh May Emerge Chief Investment Officer of SWF

A soft-landing through a new appointment may be provided the embattled Director-General, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Ms. Arunmah Oteh by the Federal Government to end her protracted row with the National Assembly. The crisis earned the commission a zero budget from the legislature in the 2013 budget.

There were strong indications last night that the Federal Government may appoint the embattled SEC boss into the board of Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF).

A source close to the Presidency told LEADERSHIP Weekend that government might have succumbed to pressure from the lawmakers to drop Oteh and offer her the job of chief investment officer in the SWF.

The source however, claimed that President Goodluck Jonathan believes that Oteh, with her experience particularly at the African Development Bank (ADB), is qualified to function as the Chief Investment Officer of the SWF.

She is expected to work closely with Mahey Rasheed and Uche Orji, who were appointed in August as chairman and chief executive officer respectively of the organisation.

Sovereign Wealth Funds are essentially government-run investment portfolios that buy into mainstream assets such as stocks and bonds to direct foreign investment.

The management of the NSIA said Thursday that it has received a total of 300 resumes for the position of the CIO and will soon begin the process of shortlisting the candidates. "We hope to have the interviews early next year and have a CIO in place by early March," Orji said.

Oteh has worked with various institutions including the Harvard Institute for International Development and Centre Point Investments Limited, Nigeria in corporate finance, consulting, teaching and research.

She joined the African Development Bank (ADB) in 1992. She was a Senior Investment Officer/Senior Capital Markets Officer from 1993 to 1997, then Divisional Manager, Investments and Trading Room from 1997 to 2001 when she was appointed the Bank's Group Treasurer responsible for fund raising and investments in major international capital markets.

Oteh was appointed Vice-President for Corporate Management at the ADB in March 2006

The SWF, which was started with a seed capital of $1 billion drawn from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) is designed to build a savings base for Nigerians, enhance the development of infrastructure and provide stabilisation support in times of economic stress.

The three fund mandates outlined in the NSIA Act include the Future Generation Fund, Nigeria Infrastructure Fund and Fiscal Stabilisation Fund with each fund holding at least 20 per cent of the assets under management.

Jonathan signed a bill into law in May last year authorising the SWF, but some state governors originally blocked the fund, saying it was unconstitutional.

They later agreed to its take-off, albeit with an initial limit of $1 billion, a fraction of the $7 billion savings which are in Nigeria's Excess Crude Account (ECA).

The governors fear the SWF will mean less money for them to spend than the current ECA system for saving oil cash.

Oteh's imbroglio with the lawmakers started in March during a capital market probe where she questioned the competence of Hon. Herman Hembe, the chairman of the House Committee on the Capital Market, who headed the panel.

She accused Hembe of demanding for N39 million for the public hearing, out which he also allegedly asked for N5 million in cash before the investigations started. She also told the committee that Hembe was given a business class ticket in October last year to represent the country at a conference in Dominican Republic which he failed to attend.

Oteh asked the chairman to tell Nigerians whether he attended the conference and whether he refunded the money paid to him to attend the conference.

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