By Emmanuel Nduka
Presidential candidate of Nigeria’s main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Atiku Abubakar, has faulted the commercialization of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Limited, saying it was done in a rather secretive approach.
Atiku who made this observation while he spoke in an exclusive interview on Arise TV monitored by Heritage Times HT, said that while he supports the total privatization of the NNPC, the process was not done it such a way that will “improve transparency, efficiency, root out corruption and increase the profitability and sustainability of the sector.”
He pointed out that Nigerians, as well as the international community did not see the process as transparent.
“If you ask me, I don’t know how much is being privatized and how much is being retained by the Government.
“We are seeing a very secretive transition being conducted by the Government. I don’t see any element of transparency there. We have seen how much money was raised and the transparency with Saudi Aramco,” he observed.
Atiku recalled that while he was Vice President to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, a foreign industry expert advised him on a possible sale of shares in the NNPC, which he communicated to his former boss, but the idea was trashed
He said the expert advised that “If you sell only 10 percent of the NNPC as at that time, you will get up to $35 to $40bn. And with that money, you can build all the roads, railway stations and other infrastructure.” “You would have also increased the efficiency and integrity of the oil company,” he added.
He likened the operations of the LNG to the way the NNPC Ltd should be run. He also pointed out that governors in the oil-producing region were not carried along in the process, promising that if he comes on board as President, “whoever has a stake will be part of the process.”
Speaking on the reccurring collapse of the country’s national power grid, Atiku recommended a decentralization of both power generation and transmission. He also suggested the diversification to alternative sources of power peculiar to each regions, such as solar, hydro and coal, to relieve the burden on power generation by gas.
He said in terms of power generation in the country, there is no corresponding transmission capacity, hence, the frequent collapse of the grid. “Anytime there is an increase in the power generation and then you have a transmission system that cannot evacuate the power, there will be a collapse,” he noted.
On whether he has been talking to his former boss, Atiku said “Yes, I have been talking to Obasanjo before now but I have not been with him since I emerged Presidential candidate of the PDP”, adding that he will also need his support. “Of course, why won’t I need his support? I need it as my former boss. I assume I have his support because I don’t think there is anyone else he can support except myself,” he added.
Responding to insinuations about his many trips to Dubai, Atiku said he only took out time during the Covid-19 pandemic to do his Masters Degree in Dubai. “I don’t really have fixation on Dubai. The only time I stayed there most was during the Covid-19 pandemic. But it just the creation of the media and handiwork of opposition to make people believe I like to stay in Dubai.”