I’ll privatize NNPC, even if they’ll kill me – Atiku

Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar.
Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar.

The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, on Wednesday reiterated his plan to privatise the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) if elected on February 16.

Mr Abubakar also promised to double the size of the Nigerian economy.

Reuters reported Wednesday that Mr Abubakar, a businessman who served as vice president to former president Olusegun Obasanjo between 1999 and 2007, said he would double the size of Nigeria’s economy to $900 billion by 2025.

The former vice president said this at a meeting with business leaders in Lagos.

“I am committed to privatising NNPC,” Mr Abubakar was quoted as saying. “Even if they are going to kill me, I’ll do it.”

Mr Abubakar said his privatisation plans would extend further than the oil sector, adding that he would direct the advisory National Council on Privatisation to draw up a “very comprehensive policy as far as privatisation of government enterprises”.

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He said, “As a policy, we want to have less government as far as businesses are concerned. No sector is going to be exempted as far as liberalisation and privatisation is concerned.”

Mr Abubakar’s campaign has sought to focus on free-market principles that saw him put in place a programme of liberalisation. The candidate also said he would oversee the removal of multiple exchange rates currently put in place by the Nigerian authorities.

“I will rather allow the currency to float so that we can have a realistic single exchange rate that would be stable. That will encourage foreign investors,” Mr Abubakar said, according to Reuters.

The PDP candidate will slug it out with President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the presidential election.

The NNPC reported monthly group revenues totalling N4.58 trillion ($14.9 billion) in the 12 months to September 2018 with oil sales accounting for about two-thirds of government income. Earlier in 2018, Mr Abubakar had stated in his manifesto that he intended to break up NNPC.

He also added that he would scrap petrol subsidy, which successive governments have retained to keep official fuel prices low.

“I have always been an advocate of subsidy removal. It is a policy I intend to continue until we completely eliminate that subsidy,” he said.

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