The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar has called the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) “a mafia organisation,” vowing to privatise it if elected president.
Mr. Abubakar said this at an interactive session with the business community in Lagos on Wednesday, assuring that he will do it even if doing so would cost him his life.
He recalled selling the idea to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, while he was his deputy deputy between 1999 and 2007 but his former boss turned it down.
“Let me go back to my experience. When we got into office, I walked up to my boss and said, “Sir, there are two mafia organisations in government: one is the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation while the other one is the National Electricity Power Authority.
“I said unless we dismantle these mafia organisations, we cannot make progress. Let’s privatise them… the long and short of this is that I am committed to privatisation as I have said. I swear even if they are going to kill me, I will do it (privatise NNPC),” Abubakar said.
On what influenced his view point on thinking that the NNPC would do better if privatised, he said, “I asked a Nigerian professor based in America; I said, ‘Prof, do you have a ministry of petroleum in America?’ He said no. I said, ‘Do you have an organisation like the NNPC over there?’ He said no. And America produces oil more than any country? He said yes.
“So I asked him, ‘How do they do it in America?’ and he said taxation, and I decided that I will go by taxation too.”
The PDP candidate also blasted the President Muhammadu Buhari government for delaying in passing the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill.
According to him, the level of unemployment in the country is worrying.
“We must create jobs, if not we will get mobbed one day by the unemployed youths. They are like a time bomb… When businesses are folding up, shops are closing, industries are falling, foreign direct investments are not attracted; poverty is embarrassingly becoming our trademark, the rating of our hardworking businessmen by international rating agencies is becoming dismal.
“When we have a government that has remained insensitive to all these, I feel it is the time not only to offer myself for service to salvage the situation but also to reiterate my aim to create a strong, resilient and prosperous economy that creates jobs and opportunities for all of us,” he added.