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If Elected, I Will Privatise Parts Of NNPC – Atiku | The Precision

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Nigeria’s former vice president Atiku Abubakar will privatise parts
of the country’s state oil company and allow the naira currency to float
to attract foreign investment if elected as head of state, he told
Reuters.


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Abubakar also confirmed that he intends to run in next
year’s presidential election, becoming the biggest opposition
heavyweight to say he will take on Muhammadu Buhari. 
The winner
of February’s poll will lead Africa’s top oil producer and most populous
nation, which is central to regional stability as it battles Islamist
militants in the northeast. 
Abubakar, a former key ally of
President Buhari whose resources helped propel him to power, quit the
ruling party in November and re-joined the opposition People’s
Democratic Party (PDP) a month later. 
He has long enjoyed support
from the business elite in Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos for his
conservative-capitalist ideals and, as vice president in a PDP
administration from 1999-2007, he implemented a programme of
liberalisation in areas including telecoms sector. 

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Abubakar said he would go further if elected president. 
“I
am also going to expand it to include the oil and gas sector which have
not been touched at all and other major sectors of the economy like
mining, solid minerals,” he said. 
Abubakar said he would
privatise parts of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) which
has been beset by decades of mismanagement and is crucial to the OPEC
member’s economic fortunes. He did not specify the parts that would be
privatised. 
“I am a strong believer in very, very small government and also the private sector,” he said. 
A
drop in crude oil prices from late 2014 pushed Nigeria into its first
recession in 25 years in 2016, spawning chronic dollar shortages because
oil receipts make up two-thirds of government revenue and most of the
country’s foreign exchange. 


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The economy moved out of recession
last year but growth remains weak and multiple exchange rates remain in
place, imposed by the central bank to support Buhari’s insistence that
the naira should not be allowed to float. 
“I will allow the naira
to float because I believe that is one of the ways foreign direct
investment can be encouraged to come in,” said Abubakar, who hopes to
replicate Buhari’s 2015 feat of winning a presidential election at the
fourth attempt.

NORTH POLL

Buhari, who took office in
2015, and whoever becomes president next will face challenges ranging
from weak economic growth to communal violence between semi-nomadic
herdsmen and farmers, as well as the Boko Haram insurgency. 
Abubakar
– who, like Buhari, is a Muslim from the north – said voters would
welcome someone who could revive their fortunes, adding that of his
three previous presidential campaigns he was only once rejected by the
electorate. He was not selected as a party candidate on the other two
occasions. 
Parties must select their candidate by Oct. 7. The
next president should be a northerner, under an unofficial power-sharing
agreement under which the presidency alternates between the north and
south after every two four-year terms. 
Bismarck Rewane, chief
executive of Lagos-based consultancy Financial Derivatives, said the
former vice president’s familiarity and age could be a disadvantage. 
“To
upset the Buhari candidature, you need something different: someone
young, energetic and charismatic. You need something distinct from the
current leadership,” he said. 
Abubakar lacked Buhari’s popularity
in northern states and at 71, just four years younger than the
president, would struggle to generate “inter-generational appeal”,
Rewane said. 
The UN estimates that the median age in Nigeria is 18. (Reuters)

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