The All-Atiku Support Group has blamed the criticism by the Buhari Media Organisation of the proposal by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar to privatize some aspects of the oil and gas sector as a display of poor knowledge about modern economic management. The AASG in a press statement signed by its Coordinator, Mr. Oladimeji Fabiyi said that the Buhari administration was least qualified to pass a remark about ideas geared towards modernizing and optimizing the operations of the Nigerian oil and gas sector, and indeed of any other sector of the economy.
“What the BMO has done by its criticism of Atiku’s proposal is to further expose its lack of knowledge in the ways modern economies are run. As it is today, the NNPC is unprofitable, unwieldy and not accountable. Compared to its contemporaries like Petronas of Malaysia and Petrobras of Brazil which have since liberalized and modernized its operations, the NNPC still riddles in inefficiency and obvious lack of capacity.”
Continuing, the group said: “There are clearly good examples of how liberalization of some sectors of the economy had benefitted Nigerians such as in the telecommunications industry and the banking industry. If the Obasanjo/Atiku administration had held on to NITEL, we wouldn’t have had the GSM revolution. If our commercial banks were not recapitalized, we still would be having failed banks. It is important to note that similar groups to the BMO had opposed the banking consolidation and telecoms revolution as anti-people, but history has shown that they were wrong.
“The trend the world over is for countries to liberalize the downstream sub-sector of the oil sector to improve efficiency and ensure product availability at all times. We are surprised that the BMO is ignorant of Saudi Arabia’s celebrated decision to privatize Aramco and raise needed cash to fund its social and economic services. We know exactly who the masquerades are: they are the very people who feed fat on the misfortune that has befallen the refineries – largely as a result of the inaction of the government.”
“What will happen when the NNPC is liberalized is that the company will be more transparent and accountable and Nigerians can actually buy into the shares of the NNPC. Maybe, by that time too, we could have energy revolution. “Tying the proposal for the liberalization of NNPC to ‘amplifying the long condemned IMF recommendation’ smacks of illiteracy and a poor attempt to hoodwink Nigerians about the shadiness in the operations of the NNPC,” the group said.
“For an administration that campaigned heavily about jettisoning subsidy regime and ‘stabilizing global oil prices’ coming out to criticize a workable idea to liberalize the country’s oil and gas sector is unfortunate to say the least,” the statement said. The group noted that while the operations and revenue of the Nigerian oil giant has been shrouded in secrecy for years past, it is worrisome that a group such as Buhari Media Organisation will employ cheap blackmail to cover up the operations of the NNPC, saying such tendencies isn’t in line with the change that Nigerians expected.
“Today, this administration pays over N1.4 Trillion annually on subsidy on fuel consumption in Nigeria, a staggering 386% when compared to the figure of N774 million daily given in March this year. Till this day, ordinary Nigerians have no idea how much revenue the NNPC makes in crude sales and the NNPC continues to drench in corruption without transparency and accountability.
“The contradiction inherent in the position of President Buhari on subsidy is evident for Nigerians to see. After saying there was no subsidy, to making Nigerians buy fuel at the highest price in the history of this country without palliative or cushioning effects to Nigerians and now paying over 1 trillion naira on subsidy. This same contradiction attendant upon by shallow understanding of economics is what leaves Nigeria with a jumbled compassless economy devoid of defined ideology. The world has moved beyond indecision.
“You can’t be going to the US to negotiate free market deals in the name of wooing investors while coming home to frustrate any genuine attempt to free the economy. The most fundamental question is what has the Buhari administration done to the refineries? Three years down the line, Nigeria still imports fuel. And some people want us stuck to a past that does not work. We need a present that can make Nigeria work again.”
Oladimeji stressed that if privatizing the refineries, and even providing the required incentives for the private sector to get competitively involved in owning and running modular refineries is what can make Nigeria wriggle out of the trap imposed on her by NNPC, the courage to say that, and the commitment to do it, should be commended not condemned.