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Atiku has no problem with enriching his friends as president

Atiku Abubakar has promised to enrich his friends if he is elected Nigeria's president in February.

The 2019 election is expected to be a two-horse race between Buhari and Atiku Abubakar, pictured (AFP)

Atiku made the promise while addressing a business summit in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, on Wednesday, January 16, 2019. 

Atiku who has been positioning himself as a champion of the private sector ahead of the election, also promised to hand over the state run oil company, NNPC, to private investors.

“The long and short is that I am committed to privatizing NNPC (Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation). I said it. I swear. Even if they are going to kill me, I will do it.

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“At the end of the day, privatizing NNPC is going to be to our own advantage because you are not going to lose anything", the presidential candidate said.

A strong advocate of restructuring the Nigerian federation, Atiku also promised to reduce the size of the federal government, even though he was silent on the attendant job losses a move like that will inevitably throw up. 

“As I have said openly, I’ll reduce the size of the federal government completely and make sure that I hand over responsibility to the various components—whether they are states, whether they are regions, whether they are zones, whatever people want to call them, that’s their own business. 

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“And I am also not going to enrich members of my family, but my friends. Are my friends not entitled to be enriched? As long as there is no element of corruption there. And there was none during our time, when we privatized the banks, when we privatized institutions of the private sector.

“I have not heard anybody coming to say either the president or myself, took money to do that.

“So the intention of deregulating the economy and giving the private sector the responsibility of driving the economy, of course is to bring about prosperity to members of the public”, Atiku said.

Atiku was Nigeria’s Vice President from 1999 to 2007 under then President Olusegun Obasanjo.

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He was accused of crony capitalism as head of the Obasanjo-era privatization drive while in government. 

Atiku fell out with Obasanjo midway into their tenure for a slew of reasons bordering on unbridled political ambition and graft, as Obasanjo would detail in his memoirs years later.

The pair have since mended fences, with Obasanjo famously hosting Atiku in his library in 2018.

Atiku is incumbent President Buhari’s major challenger ahead of the vote. 

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