Obasanjo says “I regret not privatising NNPC”. Really?

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I ‘hear’ you Baba! Why didn’t you at the time? More reason Buhari will go down as the President that begun the process to curb excessive waste. Nigerians may not appreciate him now, for his tough stance, however, they will in future.

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Obasanjo

The Guardian has reported that former President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday expressed regret for not privatising the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) while in office.

Obasanjo, who spoke in Lagos, advised the Federal Government to allow the organised private sector play a critical role in repositioning the nation’s moribund assets and infrastructure.

According to Obasanjo, past experience in Nigeria has shown that the private sector when given the opportunity can contribute meaningfully to the growth and development of the nation on a sustainable basis.

He said that he regretted not privatising the NNPC, noting that the organised private sector had repositioned the nation’s telecommunications industry by creating jobs and paying money to the government on a sustainable basis.

He said: “NNPC is supposed to be doing well like Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG). The involvement of the private sector will ensure growth.”

At the opening of a two-day Maritime Stakeholders’ Conference, Obasanjo said the role of the private sector in reviving strategic national assets could not be overemphasised.

Obasanjo likened the NNPC to the NLNG.

“The NLNG is making money for the government because of the involvement of the private sector,” he said.

Stressing the need to involve the private sector and the capital market, Obasanjo said the Nigeria’s maritime sector had not made much impact, adding that transparency is a major factor Nigeria must imbibe as part of measures to ensure growth and development of its assets.

He said: “A general once left this country with two ships.  He later came back with no accountability. That cannot happen in the private sector.”

He described the liquidation of the Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL) as sad, adding that the private sector should be involved in a future plan to revive the liquidated shipping line.

Obasanjo, who was chairman of the event tagged “Building a sustainable maritime industry in Nigeria,” identified corruption as one of the factors responsible for the challenges confronting the nation.

At the event attended by strategic stakeholders, Obasanjo recalled how he met five ships while in office as head of state and bought 19 before leaving office in 1979, pointing out that, “20 years after in 1999, there was no ship left.”

He said while one of the ships was sold as a scrap for $500,000, “government later bought the same ship for $2 million. It was repaired for $1million. It was later seized for not being seaworthy, I was informed. We were asked to pay $2 million. I told them to keep the ship. It was later released (without any payment).”

Obasanjo said over 90 per cent of global trade is carried out via the sea, noting that “this underscores the fact that a sustainable maritime industry has a direct impact on the economy of the nation and also determines the competitiveness of its export.”

He said: “The private sector should be encouraged to take the driving seat in the development architecture of the Nigerian maritime industry.

“Hopefully, this will bring about the desired efficiency in the management of the project and sustained funding.

“Nigeria should look beyond its national maritime sector as an economic hub for the country but should by now be consolidating its position as the regional and global force in the maritime domain,” Obasanjo.

In his welcome address, the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, said the Presidency had approved the adoption of a single window for transactions at the nation’s seaport.

The single window concept is designed to ensure that all the information required by public authorities in connection with the arrival, stay and departure of ships, persons and cargoes are submitted via a single portal without duplication.

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