The Director-General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Muda Yusuf; National Vice-President, Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, Remi Bello; and a former President of the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria, Dr. Sam Nzekwe, have supported the position of the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Abubakar Atiku, that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation be privatised.
Last week Wednesday, Atiku declared that he would privatise the NNPC if elected, describing the corporation as a mafia-organisation.
Commenting on the development, the LCCI DG said the presidential candidate’s position was the way to go if the NNPC must perform optimally as an oil firm.
Yusuf said, “His (Atiku) position is consistent with the current reforms that are being negotiated. And I think it is consistent even with the Petroleum Industry Bill because the whole idea of that bill is to disengage as much as possible the government from the control and management of the oil and gas industry.
“The government should be restricted to the regulatory aspect of the business and not getting directly involved. That’s my sense of what the reform is all about and that’s my sense of what the PIB is also all about. So what he (Atiku) has said is not so much different from the reforms that are being contemplated by stakeholders.”
He added, “And I believe that that is the way to go. We can have a model where the government will not actually sell all the shares but can retain some, just like the NLNG (Nigeria Liquified Natural Gas) model where the government has 49 per cent and the private sector has 51 per cent.
“The NLNG is being managed by the private sector and you can see the kind of success we are getting from that company. The government is making billions of dollars in terms of dividend and on top of that NLNG is paying a lot of tax also in foreign exchange.”
Also, in his response on whether it was okay for the NNPC to be sold to private investors, the vice-president of NACCIMA stated that the privatisation of the oil firm was the right thing to do presently.
Bello said “I don’t think there should an objection as to whether the NNPC should be privatised. We cannot be talking from the two sides of our mouths because if we believe the saying that the government has no business to be in business then NNPC is the kind of business, that shouldn’t be a public asset.
“So, yes, I think it is the way to go and the corporation should be privatised. Once due diligence is followed and act of corruption is removed, then, of course, that’s the way to go.”
Nzekwe, on his part, stated that the privatisation of the national oil firm was long overdue, but stressed that it must not be sold to the wrong investors in order to avoid the kind of concerns currently faced in the power sector.
He said, “That is what we need right now because there is a lack of transparency at the NNPC. People don’t know what they are doing there. But my concern is that to whom are you going to sell the corporation to? This is because it may end up in the hands of those few Nigerians who will still make it not to work.
“They may buy it at very cheap rates and can’t revamp it as required. However, my opinion is that it be sold in form of shares where an average Nigerian can own some stake in the corporation, instead of selling it to the privileged few and they run it just like what we are seeing now in the power sector.”