I’ll name, prosecute oil thieves, says Atiku as he meets Dangote, Elumelu other business leaders
If the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) takes power next year, there will no longer be a hiding place for oil thieves and their accomplices, no matter how highly placed they are in the country.
This was the pledge of the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, on Saturday in Lagos when he interacted with a broad spectrum of corporate Nigeria under the aegis of Business Dialogue Stakeholders Forum at the Eko Hotel.
Doyens of industry at the session include Aliko Dangote, Jim Ovia, Tony Elumelu, Herbert Wigwe, and Muhammad Hayatudeen, among others.
Atiku also said he would, in the interest of national development, confiscate all oil blocs allocated to some Nigerians who have failed to make them operational.
The former vice president, who promised to sustain frequent interactive sessions between government and the country’s’ business class when voted to power, equally outlined the ways he would tackle what he described as an ailing economy.
“If you are not going to develop oil blocs given to you, we will take it away and give it to those who will develop it. We will also assemble the names of those involved in oil theft, publish same and prosecute them,” Atiku told the stakeholders.
On his plans to boost the oil and gas sector, Atiku recalled that under the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the quota of oil production was earmarked for increase to four million barrels per day.
That plan, he explained, would be revived and sustained beyond the projected figure, when he is voted into office next year, pointing out that in order to do this successfully, the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) and any other enabling law would be invoked.
“When we were in government, we started this process. However, there were hiccups. We were unable to pass the legislation to encourage IOCs to partake in the sector. We will go back to where we started,” he said.
He added that the Brass and Olokola LNG projects, started under the Obasanjo administration, will receive more attention under him. “We will continue if we have the opportunity. As you know, joint ventures are good because they are investor-driven,” he said.
He reiterated his commitment to privatising the refineries in Kaduna, Port Harcourt, and Warri, saying: “I swear to God, I’ll privatise them.”
Turning to the fiscal challenges of FOREX, monetary policy, and the N20 trillion way and means balance facing the country, Atiku said, “I believe that we should have a FOREX policy that allows a convergence. I don’t believe in a multiple FOREX policy that currently applies.”
He said in order to stabilise the FOREX regime, loopholes in oil production would be blocked, emphasising that he would encourage local production and “not control of public expenditure.”
“Dollarization or otherwise of the Nigerian economy depends on the strength or weakness of our economy. If we strengthen our economy, you don’t need the dollar. The naira can be strengthened by the number of jobs created and exports,” he said.
According to him, the monetary policy would be such that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) would be independent. “Monetary policy and other related items would be liberalized. Without prize stability, the economy does not work for anyone; and job creation and poverty eradication cannot be attained.”
“CBN will take responsibility to deliver price stability despite the fact that inflation is a global phenomenon and a product of strong demand and limited supply.
“But none of these stops the CBN from carrying out its duty of price stability and single window fiscal regime,” the PDP presidential candidate said, pointing out that “some of these economic and financial challenges existed in 1999.”
“We were responsible for enacting the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA). We tried to schedule repayment of debts, and we succeeded. If we did that, you can trust us again to address the cure problems.
“With this experience, you should trust that we can bring the monetary policy back on track,” he further added, indicating that it is disturbing that “the country is moving backwards.”
“These have grave consequences for job creation and long term growth. The key sectors are not growing or growing slowly. There are acute fiscal challenges. The manufacturing sector is declining. 133 million Nigerians are multi-dimensionally poor, meaning they have restricted access w education, healthcare, housing and rural facilities. These are the reasons we are engaging you today,” he stated.
In his remarks, the PDP’s vice presidential candidate, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, who listed some problems facing the Niger Delta region as community agitations, high powered illegal bunkering, and breaching of oil pipelines by vandals, said the Atiku administration would embark on technology-driven surveillance and other solutions to tackle the problems.
The national chairman of the PDP, Iyorchia Ayu, expressed appreciation to corporate Nigeria for gracing the occasion, assuring them that they were engaging with the right party. “There is going to be continuing dialogue. When we take over power next year, not if, we will continue to engage you,” he said.
Both Governors Udom Emmanuel and Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Akwa Ibom and Sokoto states; who are the chairman and director general of the Atiku-Okowa presidential campaign team, urged the stakeholders to support Atiku for a better Nigeria.