Former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo has said that he regretted his inability to privatize the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) alongside other government concerns that were privatized under his administration.
Obasanjo who made this position known at the opening ceremony of a two-day maritime stakeholders’ conference, with the theme,” Building a Sustainable Maritime I9ndustry in Nigeria”, organized by the Federal Ministry of Transportation in Lagos on Monday stated that if he had known that the corporation would be badly managed and breed corruption as it was doing today, he would have privatized it.
He observed that the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas Company (NLNG) could not go the way of NNPC because of the way it was structured adding that the private sector both indigenous and foreign had 51% of the company’s total equity leaving the balance 49 to the government even as he disclosed that the company had been making money since the initial capital investment was made.
According to him,” I was instrumental to the reform and establishment of the NNPC from the Nigerian National Oil Corporation. Had I known that it would be mismanaged, I would have done something better. I would have privatised it and put it on the stock Exchange.
“The NLNG didn’t go the way of the NNPC because of the way it was organised. Fifty-one per cent is owned by private investors, both foreign and indigenous, while 49 per cent is owned by the government. In fact, the NLNG has been making money ever since the initial capital investment. From three trains, we are going to seven trains.”
The former President who doubled as the Chairman of the conference also added that “The institutions that are important in the country, which have not worked, we have to make them work. We can use the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas company as a model.
“We should look into these areas and think outside of the box. Until the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency became a place where people stole money, nobody knew much about it. Now, everybody wants to work there. Look at the National Inland Waterways Authority, the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron and the Nigeria Ports Authority, which we tried to privatise. These are institutions we can make to work.”
He however suggested the privatization of the existing government agencies in the maritime sector which include the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) describing it as a way to go if the government hoped to get it right as far as the nation’s maritime industry is concerned.
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