Osita Okechukwu, the director-general, Voice of Nigeria (VON) says the economic plan of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) delivered at the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) last Monday is more or less like a pocketbook of the nebulous 1986 economic policy of Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP).
The All Progressives Congress APC chieftain said Atiku harped profoundly on privatisation of state-owned enterprises as the fulcrum of his economic revitalisation programme, which is akin to ‘SAP proponents of yore’.
Okechukwu in a statement in Abuja on Sunday said, while he is not against private sector partnership, what Nigeria has in surplus are “rent seekers and scanty industrialists.”
Okechukwu said: “Therefore, I am not surprised that a man who breached PDP’s constitution and by extension failed to unite his party did not bother to do the needful assessment which posits that 80% of state-owned enterprises privatised under his chairmanship of National Council of Privatisation and indeed the 16 years of PDP leadership went into comatose.
“Recall that when they came to power in 1999, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), with Atiku as Chairman of National Council on Privatisation (NCP) dusted up the SAP Pocketbook and stripped our national assets including profitable companies like NICON Insurance, NICON Hilton Hotel, Niger Dock and unprofitable companies like Distribution Electricity Distribution Companies.
“For instance, Niger Dock a profitable pre-privatisation company has 6,000 staff under Nnamdi Ozobia, today it has gone under with less than 600 staff and the N1.72 billion proceeds allegedly missing.
“Secondly, NICON one of Africa’s leading Insurers originally owned by the Federal Government of Nigeria was privatised in December, 2005. With an asset base of N46.9bn gathered over a 52-year period of operation, 30 branches and six regional offices, it is therefore modest to classify NICON as a colossus in the insurance industry, but has regrettably gone under AMCON life support management.”
He challenged Atiku to take a glance at the unintended consequences of the privatisation programme before taken Nigerians back to SAP pocketbook, especially when federal government has wasted over N2 trillion life support to Electricity Distribution Companies privatised to improve the country’s power supply.
According to the VON Boss, today the outcome of such venture is crisis which defeated the core objective of privatisation.
“I make bold to say that what Atiku is proposing is by no means different from SAP policy thrust neither is his proposal on NNPC Ltd better than the giant steps that President Muhammadu Buhari has taken towards commercialism of NNPC,” Okechukwu said.
“If you ask me, His Excellency Atiku Abubakar should first unite his party, and drop Senator Iyorchia Ayu who incidentally has crowned him Nigeria’s Odinga.
“Only thereafter could he return to the drawing board and recalibrate his Economic Plan in line with what the new frontiers that Nigerians are yearning for.”