Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President of Nigeria and the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) presidential candidate in the February 2023 election, has criticised the recent $3 billion loan secured by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPCL) from the Africa Export Import Bank (Afrieximbank) to stabilize the naira.
Atiku’s viewpoint was conveyed through a statement by his Special Assistant on Public Communications, Phrank Shaibu, on Wednesday.
He labelled the loan as a manifestation of President Bola Tinubu’s government’s inconsistent policies, dubbing it a “policy flipflop.”
Atiku argued that the loan’s stated objective to boost the naira’s value in the parallel market was merely cosmetic and lacked innovation, portraying Tinubu as an economic strategist with limited vision.
He added that this move “exposed President Bola Tinubu as a Lilliputian economist that lacked ideas on how to rescue the economy he had pushed to the edge with unviable policies.”
Atiku criticised the president’s decision to entrust a crucial monetary management role to NNPCL, arguing it should have been within the purview of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). He questioned the logic of a purported profit-driven entity seeking a loan primarily for naira stabilisation.
Atiku drew comparisons between the NNPCL’s actions and those of the CBN, led by Godwin Emefiele.
He asserted that under Tinubu’s leadership, oil production suffered due to persistent theft, and instead of bolstering foreign exchange liquidity through increased production and exports, the President opted for foreign loans, a path Atiku deemed inauspicious, previously taken by his predecessor.
He said, “For many years, Tinubu claimed that he built the economy of Lagos from scratch. Now, he has been exposed as a charlatan. His administration detained Emefiele and vilified him for taking FX loans from JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs running into $7.5 billion, which was used in defending the naira.
“Now, Tinubu’s administration claims to have done the same thing by forcing the NNPCL to take a loan of $3 billion to defend the naira. We, however, have it on good authority that this is all a ruse to force the naira to appreciate at the parallel market, an action that will further affect the government’s credibility.
“The NNPCL has failed to shed the toga of an ordinary government agency. No wonder it has refused to become a public limited liability company, as stated in the Petroleum Industry Act. The NNPCL boss, Mele Kyari, who is also desperate to retain his job, has allowed himself to become a willing political tool just like Emefiele. If the NNPCL was a publicly listed oil firm like Aramco and Mobil, would it obtain a loan in order to ‘defend the naira’?”