The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Nigeria’s main opposition party and a front line candidate for the February election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has described the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) as a “mafia organisation”, vowing to privatize it if elected.
Speaking in Lagos during an interactive session with the business community on Wednesday, Atiku said he would take the step even if doing so would cost him his life.
He explained that he sold the idea to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo whom he deputized between 1999 and 2007 but that the former president did not approve of it.
Atiku said he is convinced that NNPC would run better if not managed by the government.
“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 (NNPC) while the other one is the National Electricity Power Authority (NEPA),” he said.
“I said unless we dismantle these mafia organisations, we cannot make progress. Let’s privatize them… the long and short of this is that I am committed to privatization as I have said. I swear even if they are going to kill me, I will do it (privatize NNPC).”
Atiku also spoke on how an expert in the petroleum sector influenced his stance on privatization of NNPC.
“I asked a Nigerian professor based in America; I said ‘Prof, do you have ministry of petroleum in America?’ He said no,” he said.
“I said, ‘Do you have an organisation like 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.”