Dear Governor Udom Emmanuel,
our Excellency, my gratitude for taking your time to read my previous letter on Akwa Ibom’s need for a wealth and investment fund.
I also thank readers who took the time to provide feedback on the letter particularly, Ndifreke John, a Professor of Economics at University of Botswana, Botswana, who drew my attention to the presence of Akwa Ibom state Investment Corporation (AKICORP) – an investment vehicle of the state government. This necessitated a further research into AKICORP and its progress so far.
AKICORP was established by an ACT of Akwa Ibom state House of Assembly in 2012 as a special purpose vehicle (SPV) for investment promotion, entrepreneurship and accelerated industrial development in the state. Unfortunately, nine years since its inception, AKICORP has not yielded any substantial dividend or returns to the state rather has become another corrupt and inefficient government institution suffering under the yoke of poor, unfocused and incompetent leadership. Nine years in operation and AKICORP lacks a functional website to provide information on investments, assets, profits, leadership and governance structure.
Your Excellency, with your success, achievements and knowledge in the business world before your foray into politics, you will agree that the visibility of a business to the public and investors is a fundamental requirement for success as an unknown entity remains non-existent and by extension can serve as a vehicle for corrupt and fraudulent practices. At present, AKICORP can be equated as a fraudulent government entity.
Furthermore, it was challenging and difficult to gather information on AKICORP’s investment portfolio. Nonetheless, a document on the state government’s website on AKICORP’s investment income in the Akwa Ibom State Chart of Account for 2020, revealed that for years 2019 and 2020, the earnings for the investment vehicle in companies like Champion Breweries, Anchor Insurance, Akwa Savings and Loans Ltd and Le Meridian Ltd are abysmal and terrible. For example, in Champion Breweries, in 2019 and 2020, the total dividends on investment remained at N1 million only.
Your Excellency, you will agree with me that in business, if an investment fails to yield any profit or experience any growth in value, it is either due to poor strategy, harsh economy or poor, incompetent leadership. The first two reasons fall back on poor leadership and when leadership in business is incompetent and inefficient, the solution is for such to be replaced. AKICORP is not an exception.
AKICORP’s role as an investment vehicle of government can be contrasted with North Dakota’s Legacy fund which was founded in 2010. North Dakota, one of the 52 states in the United States of America saved and re-invested proceeds from the Bakken Oil boom and today the results of such foresightedness are visible. North Dakota’s Legacy fund as at November 2020, has a principal balance of $6.2 billion and is projected to have assets worth nearly $90 million by 2039. By comparison, between 2012 and 2019, AKICORP’s investments and dividends do not reflect any growth and neither can earnings during that period cover her operating costs. This highlights the point that AKICORP has not lived up to expectation.
At present, Akwa Ibom through your leadership has a significant number of industries. I believe prudency will require the government maintain some form of participation in management through an investment vehicle like AKICORP to protect jobs meant for Ndito Akwa Ibom and also provide a source of revenue for the government. Industries like Kings Flour, Jubilee Syringe Manufacturing, Meter Manufacturing, Coconut Refinery and many more requires the state’s input in her management to ensure continuity and avert mismanagement and job losses.
Singapore’s Temasek Holdings Private Limited, a sovereign wealth fund of the Singaporean Government is an active shareholder and investor in major assets of the Singaporean Government. Companies like Singapore Airlines, one of the most profitable airlines in the world, in an industry known for loss and high attrition rates, has Temasek as a major shareholder. This promotes and sustains the Singapore brand no matter the economic challenge.
I firmly believe if AKICORP is re-structured and re-positioned to deliver on its core objectives, investors will readily find Akwa Ibom a desirable location to live, work and invest. There are limitless benefits to a well-governed wealth and investment fund such as long-term wealth for the indigenes, back-up fund for the government during times of economic distress, source of revenue for the government, improved access to funds for transformative projects.
Dr. Edwin Okon MD, MRCS(Ed)
Dr. Edwin Okon is a Medical Doctor and Medical Educator. His interests include, healthcare, wealth creation and research. He can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org or 09074666036.