Dear Governor Udom Emmanuel,
commend you greatly for the strides you have achieved in industrialization and opening Akwa Ibom to investment, raising the psyche of Ndito Akwa Ibom and improving the state’s ranking on the ease of doing business. Some of your success stories include Ibom Airlines which has become a pride to Akwa Ibomites, the Jubilee Syringe Factory which is another worthy product of your administration’s efforts to industrialize the state. Notwithstanding these accomplishments, every leader in a democracy remains concerned about the continuity of projects they commenced and their legacy. While you have no control over this, your Excellency, you can take steps to protect the gains of your administration. A vital strategic plan could be the establishment of a Sovereign Wealth/Investment Fund for Akwa Ibom State.
Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) also referred to as Investment Fund is a state-owned investment fund that invests in real and financial assets. According to Victor Shih of the Department of Political Science, Northwestern University, USA, these funds are survival maximizers and can serve as tools for a nation’s survival in times of economic downturn. In addition, they can also serve as tools for development and growth by providing funds for needed transformative projects which can bolster the state’s economy and impact on the lives of indigenes.
Currently, most SWFs are national investment tools. However, state or sub-national entities can set up their Investment Funds. In the United States of America, states like Texas, Wyoming, Alabama and Utah have investment funds which have grown significantly over the years. Therefore, Akwa Ibom, a sub-national entity of Nigeria can create a wealth and investment fund for the state and future generations of Ndito Akwa Ibom.
Adopting this policy ensures that state companies, like Ibom Airlines, continue to thrive and offer services at par with international standards, and in the long-term, sustain the Akwa Ibom brand. The aviation sector particularly airlines are not known for high profit-margins therefore, it will be prudent and anticipative for your Excellency to devise plans that will ensure your legacy of making Akwa Ibom an aviation hub comes to fruition long after your administration.
Ibom Industrial City, Ibom Deep Seaport and other developmental projects require massive capital from both private and public sectors. Private and foreign investors will readily key into these projects with the existence of a state-owned Investment Fund because this could provide a guarantee of the safety of their investments.
Harnessing the benefits of SWFs and ensuring the success of these funds, a proper structure must be established. A study of successful SWFs like Singapore’s GIC, Malaysia’s Khazanah and China’s CIC could provide a framework and clarity on running a state-owned investment vehicle. Back home, Nigeria’s NSIA (Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority) has been adjudged in the annual review of the International Forum of SWFs as one of the leading African SWFs with an innovative structure. I believe with your background in business, your Excellency sees the need for continuity and consistency in sustaining the Dakkada Mandate and achievements of your administration.
Dr. Edwin Okon Jr MD, MRCS (Edinburgh, UK)
Edwin Okon is a Medical Doctor. His interests include healthcare and research. He can be reached via email at email@example.com or telephone on 09074666036