Nigeria: Atiku Calls NNPC 'Mafia Organisation', Vows to Privatize It

Atiku Abubakar, Nigeria's 2019 presidential candidate.
16 January 2019

Nigerian presidential hopeful Atiku Abubakar on Wednesday branded the state-run oil company a "mafia organisation" and pledged to privatise it if he is elected.

Abubakar said he had tried to end the opaque administration of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) when he was vice-president under Olusegun Obasanjo from 1999 to 2007.

The NNPC and other state-run organisations have been widely criticised as unofficial slush funds for successive governments, particularly around election time.

"I said unless we dismantle these mafia organisations, we cannot progress, let's privatise them," he told a conference on the economy in Nigeria's commercial capital, Lagos.

"I am committed to these privatisations, as I have said. I swear even if they are going to kill me, I will do it," he added.

Abubakar, 72, also promised to "liberalise the economy to create jobs" in Africa's most populous country, where most of the more than 180 million people live in poverty.

High unemployment has been a persistent issue in Nigeria, particularly among the young.

Nigerians go to the polls to elect a new president and parliament on February 16. Governorship and state assembly elections follow two weeks later.

Report filling stations selling Petrol above N145 per litre to DPR--NNPC boss

Abubakar, from the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is expected closely to challenge President Muhammadu Buhari, from the ruling All Progressives Congress party.

Buhari, 76, came to power in 2015 promising to tackle endemic corruption in Nigeria, including overhauling the NNPC, to claw back billions of dollars in looted public funds.

But his critics argue his anti-corruption campaign has produced few prosecutions and has been disproportionately focused on opposition figures.

Abubakar, a wealthy businessman, has been seen as a more business-friendly candidate, particularly after months of recession, a foreign currency squeeze and rising inflation.

But he has himself been long dogged by accusations of corruption and the embezzlement of state funds during his time in office.

Restructuring: Osinbajo, others advocate autonomous stronger states

He has also been the subject of investigations in the United States. He denies any wrongdoing and has never been prosecuted.

See What Everyone is Watching

More From: Vanguard

Don't Miss

AllAfrica publishes around 700 reports a day from more than 140 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.