Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has promised to partly privatise the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and allow the naira to float so as to attract more foreign investments – if elected as President.
Abubakar, according to the news agency Reuters, said: “I am also going to expand it (privatisation) 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 added: “I am a strong believer in very, very small government and also the private sector.”
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.
The economy moved out of recession last year but growth remains slow 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 defected from the ruling All Progresives Congress (APC) to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Parties must select their candidate by Oct. 7. The next president should be a northerner, under an unofficial power-sharing agreement in which the Presidency alternates between the north and the south after every two four-year terms.
Chief Executive of Lagos-based consultancy Financial Derivatives Bismarck Rewane 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 lacks 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.
Connect via email