Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar says he will privatize refineries if elected president in 2023.
Gatekeepers News reports that Atiku said this while interacting with Nigeria’s private sector at the business dialogue stakeholders forum held in Lagos.
Atiku added that he will not hesitate to prosecute and publish the names oil thieves, if he becomes president next year.
He said if he becomes president, there will no longer be a hiding place for oil thieves and their accomplices, no matter how highly placed they are in the country.
The PDP presidential candidate also said he would, in the interest of national development, confiscate all oil blocs allocated to some Nigerians who have failed to make them operational.
“If you are not going to develop oil blocs given to you, we will take it away and give it to those who will develop it. We will also assemble the names of those involved in oil theft, publish the same and prosecute them,” the former vice-president said.
Speaking further on his plans to boost the oil and gas sector, Abubakar said under the administration of ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo the quota of oil production was earmarked for an increase to four million barrels per day.
“When we were in government, we started this process. However, there were hiccups. We were unable to pass the legislation to encourage IOCs to partake in the sector. We will go back to where we started,” he said.
Abubakar also said the Brass and Olokola LNG projects (started under the Obasanjo administration) will be given more attention under him.
“We will continue if we have the opportunity. As you know, joint ventures are good because they are investor-driven,” he said.
He reiterated his commitment to privatising the refineries in Kaduna, Port Harcourt and Warri.
“I swear to God, I’ll privatise them,” he said.
On challenges of foreign exchange (FX), monetary policy, Abubakar said Nigeria should have a forex policy that allows for convergence, adding that loopholes in oil output will be blocked to stabilise the FX market.
“I don’t believe in a multiple forex policy that currently applies,” he said.
“Regime loopholes in oil production would be blocked, [and] I would encourage local production and not control public expenditure.
“Dollarisation or otherwise of the Nigerian economy depends on the strength or weakness of our economy. If we strengthen our economy, you don’t need the dollar. The naira can be strengthened by the number of jobs created and exports.”
Abubakar further said the monetary policy would be such that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) would be independent, adding that the “monetary policy and other related items would be liberalised”.
“Without price stability, the economy does not work for anyone; and job creation and poverty eradication cannot be attained,” he added.
“CBN will take responsibility to deliver price stability despite the fact that inflation is a global phenomenon and a product of strong demand and limited supply.
“But none of these stops the CBN from carrying out its duty of price stability and single window fiscal regime.
“We were responsible for enacting the fiscal responsibility act (FRA). We tried to schedule repayment of debts and we succeeded. If we did that, you can trust us again to address the cure problems.
“With this experience, you should trust that we can bring the monetary policy back on track.
“This has grave consequences for job creation and long term growth. The key sectors are not growing or growing slowly. There are acute fiscal challenges. The manufacturing sector is declining. 133 million Nigerians are multidimensionally poor, meaning they have restricted access to education, healthcare, housing and rural facilities. These are the reasons we are engaging you today.”
On his part, Ifeanyi Okowa, PDP’s vice-presidential candidate, listed some problems facing the Niger Delta region.
“Community agitations, high powered illegal bunkering and breaching of oil pipelines by vandals are problems faced, but Atiku’s administration would embark on technology-driven surveillance and other solutions to tackle the problems,” Okowa said.
Meanwhile, stakeholders present at the meeting include: Aliko Dangote, chairman and chief executive officer, Dangote Group; Jim Ovia, founder of Zenith Bank; Femi Otedola, billionaire entrepreneur, Tony Elumelu, chairman, United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA), Herbert Wigwe, CEO of Access Holdings Plc, and others.