Privatization Palava – Atikulated


In an interview with NTA three years ago, just before the 2019 elections, Atiku was asked how his economic policy was going to favor the poorest of the poor, bear in mind that he had just before that question, himself, quoted a statistics of 21 million Nigerian youths being unemployed at that time, his reply was “Are you a socialist?” followed by laughter. He never did reply to the question other than to direct the interviewer to an agriculture policy that is no different from the numerous agricultural policies past administrations have had and failed at in Nigeria.

In 2018, Nigeria held the position of being the poverty capital of the world with about 87 million people out of her estimated 200 million being in extreme poverty. Today, we still have unemployment and the homelessness rate is on the rise, and yet a Presidential candidate and part of the elite class (one that has contributed immensely to the destruction of our economy) thinks that being a socialist is a joke. We should be affronted that the idea that Nigerians might want free education, free healthcare, subsidized housing / community homes, etc is considered a joke by Atiku.

It is no wonder Atiku’s economic policy in his manifesto is centered on the privatization of government controlled agencies such as the NNPC. He argues for privatization as a way to boost the Nigerian economy, an  incoherent and tone deaf approach at a time where the world is shifting to being actively conscious of the dangers of capitalism and calling for a change. We should also remember that as a Vice President under Obasanjo’s (OBJ) regime, Atiku  was head of the National Council on Privatization where he oversaw sales of highly profitable public enterprises such as NITEL, Transcorp etc, a position he was dismissed from on allegations of having sold them cheaper than their value to his peers.

That is not the only allegation of corruption the former Vice President faced. Recall the Halliburton bribery scandal that saw Atiku being barred from entering the United states up until 2019. The investigation chaired by Senator Carl Levin reported that he had used offshore accounts to siphon millions of dollars through his fourth wife, Jennifer Douglas, who is a US citizen. Of course, like his political opponent, Tinubu, when matters about him being corrupt are brought up, he is quick to point out that he has not been prosecuted for any. However, it might be time for Nigerians to require some standards for its highest office, primarily, that aspiring candidates need not have criminal allegations overseas.

What I find most perplexing is how a key point of his manifesto is to improve and strengthen the educational system in Nigeria. Will this agenda involve privatizing Nigerian Public universities like his idea of improving healthcare? Because that is in contradiction of improvement. Or does the improvement only cover a certain class of people? Already many Nigerians are unable to afford education even with our Universities being one of the affordable ones in the world. To privatize Public schools is to kill education in this country. And making arguments such as “Strikes, inefficiency of workers, etc” sounds like a government who intends to outsource the governing of the country to private citizens.

Nigeria is facing one of the worst economic turmoil and recession in our history and selecting a leader with a goal to improve the standard and cost of living is a life or death situation. We need leaders who are in tune with the realities of the average Nigerian not leaders who are there to make the lives of the Elites and our nonexistent middle class better. It has become difficult and rather depressing to always be put in positions of picking between a rock and a hard place.

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