Diezani Alison-Madueke, her lifestyle and many controversies

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With the news that former petroleum resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke, was arrested in London yesterday, our correspondent, WAHEED BAKARE, chronicles the lifestyle of the flamboyant, who was known for her many controversies while in government.

Beautiful and gorgeous Diezani Allison-Madueke first came into prominence when she got married to retired Admiral Allison Madueke, a former Chief of Naval Staff, who was also at various times military governor of Imo and Anambra states. Although her marriage to a top retired military personnel might have pave the way for her to make her first foray into government and politics, by July 2007, Diezani no longer live under the shadow of her husband. She was appointed transport minister.

After a minor cabinet reshuffle, she was moved to the mines and steel development ministry as the minister on December 23, 2008. Luck smiled again on her when the then Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan became the acting president when the then president, Umaru Yar’Adua, became incapacitated.

Although Jonathan dissolved the cabinet on March 10, 2010, Diezani was re-appointed and sworn in as the minister of petroleum resources on April 6, 2010. She became the first woman to occupy what is undoubtedly the most powerful ministry in a country that operates a monolithic economy that largely depends on oil. On assumption of office, she assured Nigerians that she would transform the oil and gas sector so that all Nigerians could benefit from what is the only viable means of sustenance for the country.

This informs the signing of the Nigerian Content Act by the then president Jonathan in April 2010. This was to ensure that more indigenous Nigerians businesses are awarded contracts in the sector hitherto to monopolised by foreign operators. With her assumption of the most powerful ministry in the country, she wielded enormous power and influence under the immediate past administration of Jonathan.

Diezani introduced one of the most controversial policies when she planned to remove oil subsidy, which will increase the pump price of petrol. Her reason was that it “poses a huge financial burden on the government, disproportionately benefits the wealthy, (and) encourages inefficiency, corruption and diversion of scarce public resources away from investment in critical infrastructure.”

This was greeted with “Occupy Nigeria”, a socio-political protest movement that began in the country on January 2, 2012 in response to the removal of fuel subsidy by the Jonathan-led Federal Government on January 1, 2012. Protests took place across the country, including Kano, Lagos, Abuja and at the Nigerian High Commission in London. Some political analysts believe that the success of the protest and its attendant embarrassment it brought to the Jonathan’s administration was one of the reasons why Jonathan failed to win his second term election.

Some of them blamed the former president for not checkmating the “excesses” of Diezani. Although her role in the removal of the oil subsidy was perhaps the most controversial saga she got enmeshed in, Diezani was involved in many other negative issues. For instance, in June 2008, she was probed by the Senate after it was revealed that as the transport minister, she had paid N30.9 billion naira ($263 million) to contractors between December 26 and 31, 2007, without following the due process.

Yet again, in October 2009, the Senate indicted her and recommended that she should be prosecuted for the alleged transfer of N1.2 billion into the private account of a toll company without due process and in breach of concession agreement. Besides, she was alleged to have spent billions of dollars inappropriately on private jets in a country where there is abject poverty among the majority of the populace despite the enormous resources in the country.

She is also alleged to be responsible for some missing $20 billion dollars. A former governor of the Central Bank, Mallam Lamido Sanusi, shortly after he was removed from office had raised the alarm and claimed that the money stolen from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to maintain flamboyant lifestyle of some members of the cabal in the oil sector.

Sanusi, who is now the emir of Kano, said the so-called kerosene subsidy money spent by the Federal Government was used to pay for “private jets…yachts… and expensive property (of some public office holders) in Beverly Hills (United States) and Switzerland.”

Although he did not mention any names, many people believed that his insinuation was a veiled reference to Diezani. This was so because shortly before Sanusi’s alarm, Diezani had admitted before the Senate Committee on Finance that she spent a whopping sum of N3.5 billion on kerosene subsidy without appropriation.

This was a flagrant violation of the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999. In other words, money cannot be spent without the appropriation of the National Assembly. Yet, the former minister was not prosecuted. Like a cat with nine lives, she escaped again after she was probe over alleged shady deal of a whopping N9 trillion oil deal in May 2013.

The House of Representatives mandated an ad-hoc committee to investigate the petroleum minister over the deal and findings showed that there was a deliberate exclusion of indigenous operators from exercising their rights of first refusal in transactions that led to the carving out of oil blocks.

While in the US during an official visit shortly after he was inaugurated, President Muhammadu Buhari alleged that one million barrels of oil were being stolen under Diezani by a few individuals who laughed all the way to the bank without remitting a kobo into Nigeria’s account.

Also, Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State painted a calamitous and gloomier picture that an unnamed US official revealed that a minister under the former president helped himself/herself “with our $6 billion.” Again, many Nigerians looked into the direction of Dieazani when the allegation was raised.

When her photograph went viral on the social media indicating that she was sick in a London hospital, many people did not believe the claim. The story by her family that she had been advised by her doctors to neither make or pick her calls “to avoid any risk of infection which will be extremely harmful to her” was not even convincing as far as the majority of Nigerians who took to social media in response to her supposed picture showing her lying down on a hospital bed. It is not in doubt that Diezani is the most mentioned and perhaps most vilified among the ministers that served under the Jonathan’s administration.

Many even wondered why the former president did not summon enough courage to sack her going by her involvement in many controversies. Many Nigerians feel that her ostentatious lifestyle was sustained by her involvement in corrupt practices. Diezani was also the first female minister of transportation.

By virtue of her position as the minister of petroleum resources, in October 2010 she became the first woman to head a country delegation at the annual OPEC conference. She was also the first woman to be appointed to the board of Shell Petroleum Development Company Nigeria. On the 27th of November, 2014 she got elected as the first female President of OPEC.

On working in male-dominated sectors, Diezani asked the young women she mentored while at Shell to “change their mode of thinking.” Born on December 6, 1960 in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, her father was Chief Frederick Abiye Agama. She studied architecture in England and then at Howard University in the United States.

She graduated from Howard with a Bachelor’s degree on December 8, 1992. She returned to Nigeria and joined Shell Petroleum Development Corporation that year. In 2002, she attended Cambridge University for her MBA. In September 2008, there was an unsuccessful attempt to kidnap her at her house in Abuja with her son, Chimezie Madueke.

Culled from: http://newtelegraphonline.com/diezani-alison-madueke-her-lifestyle-and-many-controversies/

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