By TAYO OREDOLA
As part of efforts to fight corruption and institute accountability in the country’s oil sector, the former Minister of Education, Obiageli Ezekwesili, has called on Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), to demand transparency on the inflow and outflow of oil revenue, he said this can be done through the advocacy of a constitutional amendment of sections 162(1), (2) and (10) of the 1999 Constitution.
According to her, CSOs should give recommendations through a National Debate on Economic Governance on how oil revenue management, and should include moving the relevant clauses necessary to empower automatic funding of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) in the Nigerian constitution.
She also canvassed the adoption of an amendment of the current provisions of the constitution, which makes the actions of the Federal Government in maintaining an Excess Crude Account (ECA) overtly unconstitutional.
The public policy analyst, who made this call in Lagos, during a Roundtable Gathering on, “A Savings and Stabilisation Mechanism for Nigeria,” organised by the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Foundation, noted that it is important for CSOs to drive this constitutional reform. This is because Nigerians would get the chance to understand better that it’s those sections of the Constitution that prescribe modes of sharing revenues for the Federation.
This approach, she explained, will reduce the knowledge asymmetry that stops zzpoor citizens in all six zones of the country from realising that the obstacle to their growth is very similar and if the status quo must change, they must be informed to seek accountability.
She bemoaned that looking critically into the country’s culture of savings, the constitution does not give space to reserve and that is why “we are stuck in the oil wells of the Niger Delta as a country and this calls for a political consensus on saving more.”
The former minister expressed shock at the reason why the afore mentioned sections of the constitution was not considered for amendment last year during the last constitutional review that birthed the ‘Not Too Young to Run Law.’
Ezekwesili in her presentation titled “Safeguarding and Smoothening Fiscal Adjustments in Nigeria -Policy Option,” observed that the establishment of the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) should not only be clearly authorised under domestic law, there should be a legal structure with clear mandate for the manager to invest the SWF’s assets and conduct all related transactions.
She advanced that in getting it right, a transparent and sound governance structure that provides for adequate operational controls, risk management, and accountability must be in place. “A constitutionally set proportion of funds from oil revenue must be transferred to the fund, with set proportions for domestic infrastructure investment and foreign capital market,” she added.
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