The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, said on Wednesday that he would privatise the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation if elected, describing the state-owned oil firm as a “mafia organisation.”
Atiku was quoted by TheCable as saying at an interactive session with the business community in Lagos that he would take the step even if doing so would cost him his life.
He explained that he sold the idea to President Olusegun Obasanjo whom he worked with as a deputy between 1999 and 2007 but that the former president did not approve of it.
Atiku said he was convinced that the NNPC would run better if not managed by the government.
He said, “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).”
Atiku also spoke on how an expert in the petroleum sector influenced his stance on the privatisation of the NNPC.
The former Vice President 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.”
Atiku criticised the current administration for the delay in passing the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill.