By Ali Smart
The Minister of Power and Works, Babatunde Fashola, has impressed it on the National Pension Commission (PenCom) to invest the over N5 trillion pension fund in roads that can be tolled, housing, 4th Mainland Bridge, Coastal Road linking several coastal states from Lagos to Bayelsa and the new seaport in Lekki and Badagry.
Fashola made this call while delivering a Keynote Speech at the Nigerian Pension Industry Strategy Implementation Roadmap Retreat of the National Pension Commission (PenCom) and Pension operators held over the weekend in Abuja.
The Minister said he sees a future for Africa, led by Nigeria, using the resources of the people to build a future that includes the people.
He however noted that the risks that stand in the way of the pension managers in investing the fund without any hitch are caused by some business men who for selfish reasons ensure that projects and contracts are tied down in courts.
He identified five areas including politics, governmental action, socio-cultural, legal, and judicial as areas that need to be readdressed to assure investors of low induced risks.
He stated that while the journey of a new pension system started with the coming together of some Nigerian minds like President Olusegun Obasanjo and Fola Adeola and has been nurtured by the dedicated hands of men and women who have served in the pension commission, who are represented by the current Director- General, Mrs Chinelo Amazu- Anohu, it has reached a major milestone from where it must reinvigorate itself.
“This is the time to show that our nation and our national economy is bigger than the challenges posed by the dwindling oil prices. This is the time to diversify and change the face of our economy once and for all. But the risks that stand in the way of investing the fund are caused by us and they must be changed by us to mention a few,” he said.
Africa, Fashola said, has infrastructure deficit, as there’s no country to country rail service across most parts just as the highways that connect most of the countries such as in the ECOWAS region are in very poor shape.
Citing an online publication, which estimated that sub-Saharan Africa’s 10 largest pension fund markets had approximately $310 billion in assets recently, he regretted that these funds are not serving the real sector of roads, bridges, hospitals, rails, airports, etc.
“There is a palpably visible poverty in most of these countries, some of who gathered to seek funding support in South Africa recently at the instance of the Chinese Government who offered funding support (loans) of $20 billion for all of Africa, when 10 (ten) pension funds had $310b to invest. Many of these countries are scurrying after multilateral agencies looking either for aid or loans, while sitting literally on a pot of money,” he said.
Waxing philosophical, he said: “If Africa is poor today it is not because of a lack of resources; rather it is likely a poverty of ideas or the abundance of risk elevating attitudes, some of which I have alluded to, such as judicial and political, and these must change.”
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