The Atiku-Agbaje Media Engagement Network (AAMEN) has asked the Presidential Candidate of the People's Democratic Party (PDP), former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, to rescind his decision to sell 90 percent government stake in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) once elected into office.
Pointing out that the Late President Umar Yar'Adua had won accolades for reversing the privatisation of the nation's four refineries, AAMEN said this demonstrated that Nigerians wanted government's vigorous involvement in the running of the corporation.
AAMEN gave its counsel through a press statement circulated on Monday and signed by its Executive Director, Felix Oboagwina.
"We hope His Excellency, the former Vice President, was misquoted on this highly sensitive proposal," Oboagwina said, noting that, "The groundswell of opinions so far collated on this matter wants Alhaji Atiku to think outside the box for solutions to the obvious ineptitude and corruption bedevilling the corporation."
AAMEN advised Atiku to direct his mind towards probing NNPC, recovering looted funds and positioning the corporation for accountability, integrity, professionalism and profitability.
It also urged Atiku to commit to perfecting, signing and implementing the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) within six months of coming into power.
AAMEN would want Atiku to reopen scandalous NNPC cases like the $25 billion scam alarm raised by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, against the corporation's Group Managing Director, Mr. Maikanti Baru, that President Muhammadu Buhari appeared to have swept under the carpet.
"One Yoruba proverb says that headache should not be cured by decapitation," AAMEN said. "This simply means that it is not always that a drastic solution should be visited on a drastic problem. And for anyone to say that selling off the country's shares in NNPC would be the only solution to the rot in the system simply means that corruption would have won."
While acknowledging that the rot in NNPC, especially in the current APC dispensation, stank to the high heavens, AAMEN said that selling off the country's shares in the organisation would reduce the Federal Government to an ordinary rent taker.
The organisation said that proposing to embrace disinvestment would also fuel speculations that the PDP candidate was on a mission to feather the nest of his rich associates at the detriment of the poor masses.
"We being a mono-economy with robust reliance on oil as the major revenue source, selling off NNPC will amount to killing the Golden Goose that lays the golden egg for our country," Oboagwina said.
Pointing out that over the years NNPC administrators had operated for their own selfish benefits and those of their nominators, AAMEN said that the primary objective should be the appointment of credible executives to run the corporation.
AAMEN urged an incoming PDP government to borrow a leaf from oil-producing countries like the Argentina, as well as the United Arab Emirates, whose substantial control of their oil facilitated their infrastructural development especially in Dubai.
NNPC is the commonwealth of Nigeria's 180 million population and they should derive maximum benefits from the corporation, AAMEN said.
It said that contestants to the nation's highest office must present their blueprints for divesting the economy and creating more revenue sources to cater for the country's soaring population.
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