The Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) has described recent criticism by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Candidate Atiku Abubakar on the federal government’s plan to sell some public assets as laughable.
It wondered when the former Vice President had a “road to Damascus” encounter on what he only recently recommended for the oil and gas sector.
BMO said in a statement signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary Cassidy Madueke, that the Atiku Presidential Campaign team is just playing to the gallery with its ill-conceived criticism of a well thought out plan.
“We make bold to say that the former VP’s media handlers did not consult him before issuing a statement that is at variance with what their principal stands for.
“If they did, Atiku would have reminded them of the interview he granted Reuters in May this year where he vowed to privatise the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and other major sectors of the economy including mining if elected President.
“We consider it quite an irony that the same campaign team that advanced reasons for the sale of the nation’s refineries as canvassed by its principal, just a short while after, throw so much tantrums in condemning the intention to sell a consciously profiled set of public assets in a sector the Nigerian government had historically privatised. This simply shows the hot air the Atiku Campaign is made of”, it argued.
The group noted that if not that the Atiku team was being mischievous, it would have realised that the privatisation plan of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration also involves putting up part of government’s equity in state owned enterprises like NICON insurance and Skyway Aviation Handling Company Limited for sale through initial public offering.
BMO noted that the government is also keen on concessioning of Terminal B of Warri Old Port Complex which previously was held by INTELS, partial commercialisation of NIPOST as well as the restructuring/ commercialisation of six River Basin Development Authorities.
Others are the privatisation of the Afam Power Generation plant and the Yola Power Distribution Company which even the Bureau of Public Enterprises has said would be done with the benefit of lessons learnt from the previous exercise.
“We admonish that they should not self-adulate on the assets to be put up for sale on the ground that the assets were legacy assets from the PDP years. In character, these assets were unfinished projects now completed and prepared for value transactions with interested investors.”
All these, according to the group, cannot be compared to the shoddy manner the former Vice President handled a process that saw the country losing its priced assets to his cronies at ridiculous prices with little benefit to the Nigerian public.
It said, “it is surprising that the Atiku team claimed that he supervised what they described as a successful policy of privatisation but it is common knowledge that the process left the country worse off as state owned enterprises like NIGERDOCK, NAFCON, Eleme Petrochemical, Daily Times, Ughelli and Egbin Power plants, Transcorp Hilton Hotel and ALSCON were sold off to cronies.
“It is one of the reasons the PDP presidential candidate had issues with his former boss Olusegun Obasanjo who recently spoke of the need for Atiku to seek the forgiveness of the Nigerian people.”
BMO also reminded the opposition that the proceeds from the process are to finance critical capital projects as approved by the National Assembly in the 2018 budget and not recurrent expenditure as was the case in PDP inglorious years in government.