Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has called for clarity on the National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited’s newly proposed method of privatizing Nigeria’s oil refineries. Atiku emphasized the need for NNPC to explain the advantages of its chosen privatization approach, especially considering potential debt implications.
Reacting to reports that NNPC is set to transfer government-owned refineries to private operators, Atiku questioned the decision, asserting that privatization should have preceded the rehabilitation process to prevent accruing debt.
The 2023 presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has long been an advocate for the sale of the refineries. In a recent post on X (formerly Twitter), Atiku expressed his concerns about NNPC’s approach, urging the company to provide satisfactory explanations to Nigerians regarding the anticipated benefits of the newly adopted privatization strategy.
Atiku highlighted his consistent call for extensive reforms in Nigeria’s oil sector and other segments of the economy. He emphasized the need for the Buhari administration to break monopolies in infrastructure sectors, including refineries, and involve both foreign and domestic investors in funding and management.
The former Vice President outlined the sequence of events, noting the initial reluctance to privatize the refineries, leaving them inactive for an extended period while incurring substantial staff salaries. He criticized the subsequent decision to secure a $1.5 billion loan for rehabilitation and the current move to hand over the rehabilitated refinery to private entities for operation and maintenance.
While acknowledging that NNPC’s privatization approach may have specific terms in the agreement with private operators, Atiku stressed the potential advantages of selling the refinery before rehabilitation to avoid the burden of debt. He called on NNPC to provide a clear and satisfactory explanation of how the proposed privatization method would benefit Nigeria and its citizens.