Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party on Wednesday in Kaduna reiterated his plan to privatise the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), if elected president on February 23.
Mr Abubakar spoke at a town hall meeting with ward, local government and state party leaders in the state at the Kaduna Trade Fair Complex.
He said that the NNPC had failed to serve the purpose for which it was established in 1977.
According to him, selling-off the corporation and all the three refineries is the best option for the country, likening it to the sale of Nigerian Telecommunication Limited (NITEL).
Mr Abubakar said Nigeria is among the biggest producers of crude, but lamented that the country still imports refined products for local consumption at exorbitant prices to the detriment of the common man.
He said if elected president, he would deregulate the NNPC and sell it to Nigerians. the way Mr Obasanjo sold NITEL.
However, he did not mention that the sale of NITEL was disastrously done by the administration, of which he was a part and chairman of the Bureau of Public Enterprises, which handled the sale.
Under Mr Obasanjo, NITEL went through several botched sales and management turnaround contracts. First, 51 per cent of the shares were sold to a group of investors under the trading name of Investors International London limited.
The sale was cancelled after the investors failed to pay. Then in 2003, the government approved a management turnaround contract with a firm called Pentascope. The contract was cancelled in 2005 after it became clear Pentascope did not have the adequate resources to run NITEL. In 2005, the government again offered NITEL to Orascom. This failed again, leading the government to sell it to a subsidiary of Transcorp in 2007. The sale was revoked in 2009. In 2014, the firm was sold to NATCOM, a group of investors led by Tunde Ayeni. Mr Ayeni since then has been running it as NTEL.
Mr Abubakar, also former vice president, urged the people of Kaduna State to massively vote for the PDP, promising to allocate 40 per cent appointments to the youth to address the rising unemployment and restiveness.
He said that his government if elected, would make education a priority by providing scholarships to all deserving youth and women in the country.
Mr Abubakar also promised to allocate 30 per cent of appointments to women, adding that, he would provide adequate funds through the Small and Medium Enterprise Agency to empower women and the youth.
He said that his leadership would address what he described as alarming insecurity, with killings of innocent Nigerians across all the geopolitical regions.
Mr Abubakar appealed to the electorate to vote the PDP into political offices in the state for the betterment of the people.
He said he would allocate more resources to the states and local government areas for faster development across the country.
The National Chairman of the PDP, Uche Secondus, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, urged the Kaduna State party leaders to work tirelessly to ensure the success of the party at the Feb 23 and March 9 general elections.
The governorship candidate of the party, Isah Ashiru, said the party would bring development at all levels to the state if voted into power.
Mr Ashiru said his administration would reduce poverty to the minimum and create employment opportunities for the youth and women as well as persons with disabilities.
Mr Ashiru appealed to the people come out en masse and vote for the party and ensure their votes count.
He urged the youth to avoid violence during and after the polls.
The chairman of the party in the state, Felix Hyat, spoke in the same vein.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that another former vice president, Namadi Sambo; former national chairman of the party, Ahmed Makarfi; former governors Ramalan Yero of Kaduna and Ibrahim Shema of Katsina were among top party leaders that attended the event.