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Sunday, 22 November 2015


Nigeria’s former Minister of Petroleum Resources Diezani Alison-Madueke emerged a few weeks ago in Ovation Magazine publisher Dele Momodu‘s new publication, The Boss Newspaper.

In the concluding part, Dele Momodu shares a reader confession that because of the first part of the interview, he “began to empathise” and “see beyond (his) contempt” for the former minister, due to her illness.

Diezani calls herself “one of the most vilified women in Nigeria’s history” and insists she followed due process – “I carried out my duty in the strictest terms”, but believes she “stepped on toes, very powerful toes” by doing so.

 See the full interview below as scripted  by Dele Momodu  below

Diezani Alison-Madueke with Dele Momodu on Boss Newspaper 4
Diezani Alison-Madueke with Dele Momodu on Boss Newspaper 3

Wow. She must have had a load to get off her chest. Hopefully.
She makes for a careful case study of hubris.

She thumbed up her nose at the Nigerian citizenry and her arrogance and impunity were legendary.
She may yet get her day in court, as many, myself included, wish.

However, for the first time (even though it was authoritatively confirmed to me long before now and long before most people knew, that she was ill) I began to see beyond my utter contempt for her. I actually began to empathise. Those new feelings were prompted by your column yesterday, powerful in all ramifications.

Well, I pray she recovers from this illness – not now because she may then face the justice many, including admittedly myself, believe she deserves, but as a human being. Your column reminded me that I must never lose my humane-ness and my humanity. I was in danger of that, until your powerful words brought me back.

I look forward to reading all about your time with her.

And whether it’s soon or it’s a year or two or more down the line, I’d still like to know more…about what will be left unsaid…

More power to your pen.


That was the reaction I got from a Senior Advocate of Nigeria after my Pendulum column broke the Diezani Alison-Madueke story in Thisday Newspaper three Saturdays ago. If you have not been following our special reports on the raging controversy around the embattled former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Alison-Madueke, you have nothing to worry about as The Boss newspaper brings the Diezani saga to its climax today.

The story you’re reading now is the concluding part but you will be able to read all the other stories we’ve published in the past three weeks in Thisday and later The Boss Newspaper. It is a story like no other and the mutual suspicion from affected and/or interested parties are not likely to go away soon. When you talk oil, the stakes are always too high. So it should not be surprising that Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke has come under intense scrutiny and blistering fire.

Those who have reasons to contradict her stories should take up the challenge she has thrown by coming forward to contradict her forceful submissions. Mrs. Alison-Madueke is very convinced and confident that she has done nothing as atrocious as many would want the world to believe. In the course of our encounter she spoke eloquently about her tenure as Nigeria’s very powerful Petroleum Minister. She posited that there is hardly a Petroleum Minister that has not been accused, harassed, demonised and labelled a thief.

She said everyone agrees that Muhammadu Buhari is a man of unquestionable character and impeccable pedigree yet it was alleged that N2.8billion vanished under his nose. Fela even sang about this humongous disappearance. “Till this day no one has been able to prove that the then Major General Buhari stole a kobo,” she concluded.

She also gave the example of the highly respected Professor of Virology, Tamunonemi Sokari David-West, who everyone knows returned to his job at the University of Ibadan and is not a rich man but he was still scandalised. Her theory therefore is that it seems we have a propensity for rubbishing our accomplished people many times without justification. She said while it is true that a Minister is influential, the real power is in NNPC, the cash cow. A Minister sits in the Ministry treating files, holding meetings at home and abroad, looking glamorous and taking all the flak but people forget that the soul and heart of the nation is NNPC. “The kind of due process we followed was rigorous. You know, I came from Shell, where you had to account for everything properly…”
Why then was she so hated, we asked: “I was sitting on the prime portfolio in a mono product economy. I carried out my duty in the strictest terms. I stuck to my mandate which incidentally was one which I championed with my Boss, to open up the sector to our own people as long as they can satisfy the laid down rules in the Local Content Act. I ensured that Nigerians would get the right of first refusal. But unfortunately I stepped on toes, very powerful toes. I was not liked by the foreigners and also some Nigerians who lost out… Keem Belo-Osagie once told me something I cannot forget; that 90 percent of Nigerians want to do oil business but you can only satisfy about three percent, so the rest will get angry thinking you blocked them…”

Why couldn’t she make amends before it was too late? “The business of oil is like a roller-coaster, it spins you around at incredible speed. Sometimes you’re too dazed to know what hit you. The pressure is so much from every direction. You also have to deal with a cynical society where everyone believes you are a thief based on the mere perception that there is no way you can sit on top of oil and gas without pilfering…”

But are you sure you were never tempted to pilfer or even appropriate oil blocks to yourself or cronies: “Believe it or not, and God is my witness, I didn’t have to steal. I’m not an Angel but I’m not a devil. I don’t have billions anywhere. How is it possible for one woman to steal billions of dollars in a country like Nigeria? Did I blow up the vaults of the Central Bank or transfer the money to heaven? Where can you keep such money in this age of money laundering fiasco? I did my job professionally without even thinking of anyone as opposition. Otherwise we would not have approved the Oando-Conoco Phillips deal…. Tinubu came to see me three times and we approved on merit…”

We told her the belief in many circles that the money stolen

was not for her personal use but was kept for use during the Presidential election: “How can I use $20billion for elections, that is absolutely impossible… My boss will never do such a thing. Many people don’t know my boss. He is a very principled and stubborn man. There are things he will not do. And there are things I will not do.  I protected the interests of my country…”

But no one seems to believe you, why is it so difficult to trust your claims: “I can’t blame the doubters. They have seen more of the worst of Nigeria that it becomes difficult to trust anyone. But let me disclose something to you today because there is a difference between belief and reality… I did an unusual thing in our last days in government. I’m not sure I should tell you before people say I’m boasting…”

Not really, if it would buttress your point, Madame: “Ok, I actually left $5.6 billion in the NLNG alone… I doubt if such ever happened but no one is talking about it. I’m not seeking to be praised but to be acknowledged that I made some little contributions. That money could have been wasted on frivolities but I was determined to keep something for the incoming government once we lost the election…”

She continued: “On 4th of May, Ngozi (Dr Okonjo-Iwealla, then Minister of Finance) wrote to the President to release $2 billion from the money to clear her table and pay contractors, which would have depleted the money to $3.6 billion, but I said to the President we shouldn’t do that. I explained what the accrued money was meant for and gave a detailed background of the account… Even in the past, Ngozi and the NSA had asked to be funded from it and I stood my ground because the money was meant for the gas project in Brass LNG in Bayelsa.  Conoco Phillips pulling out affected it.
“We wanted to run a gas economy. It was the money that made it possible for President Buhari to pay the bail-out… If I was corrupt I would have spent the money on paying contractors who would have been too happy to do anything… I got calls from some of them promising kickbacks if I could pay but I refused and the rest is history…”

What would you do differently if God should give you another chance: “The priority now is how to take care of my poor health. I’m battling with a very serious type of cancer. I have tried everything to contain the malevolent spread. I have had two surgeries. The first was to take out the lumps from my breast and the second was to cut deeper into the tissues. I did the last one about three weeks ago (now about five weeks). I’m still in some pains. I’ve gone through Chemotherapy and now I’m starting Radiotherapy on Monday for five weeks (two Mondays ago). I’m praying this one goes well because I don’t know if there is any thing the doctors can do beyond this… The steroids were devastating and at a point I slipped into coma on July 28. My sugar level went wild first to 25 and then to 80. The doctors called it a near-miss and I now know what they mean when people say, “health is wealth”.  She continued, “My 14 year old son has been asking if Mummy would die. I really don’t know because I believe nothing is impossible for God. I’ve told my son that I will carry his children and grandchildren… I pray I will.”

“If I was a man may be things would have been different; it would never have gone to this extent… I have never stolen from my country. I will repeat that before God and man even if no one would listen. On this job, you don’t have to steal. Nigerians are the most wonderful people if you are lucky to have a few good friends who believe in you. All the foreign Ambassadors say it, the reason many often come back to work and reside in our country. People can call Nigeria and Nigerians bad names but we remain the most generous and humane people on earth…”

“But to answer your question specifically, I think if I have another chance, I will be more tempered on stepping on big toes but I will still do my job the best way but in a moderated way. Perhaps, I should have done things more subtly… I did what I thought was good for my country. I own no oil well. The President signed none for himself… I do not indulge in extravagant things even if people think I’m flamboyant. My only indulgence is my family and may be architecture and architectural interiors. I’m addicted to architectural books and magazines. That is my passion…”

“God will do as He wills. He said He will bless who He wishes to bless… There is nothing anyone can do about it. So be happy about people’s good fortune… It all feels like a bad dream but God knows the beginning from the end and the end from the beginning…”

And that was it. The story that started four hours earlier was declared ended. No attempt was made to stop her from pouring out her heart as she wanted. Her story was gripping and we could have gone on forever. We stood up to go and she agreed to a portrait shot with this reporter. Sitting there alone with her for that long had thawed our almost previously frozen relationship. We chatted like old buddies though we had only ever met once at a function in Abuja and never even had the chance to exchange numbers.

She chose a spot outside the restaurant and got her female assistant to take the picture… As we stood there, my brain did summersaults and my heart silently prayed for her. I’m not sure if she saw the solemn expression on my face… “May God perform His miracle…” Amen.

1 comment:

  1. I believe the story of this woman, and l pray that God heals her. I once lost a family friend to the same breast cancer, and l also have a friend in Atlanta U.S.A who survived the worst case of breast cancer, and losing one of her breast to it. If Dieziani was to lie, she would have lied, because at this time, all she wants to do is stay alive, and also do the right thing in the case that she doesn't survive the cancer. She has made her confession, she said also that she isn't a saint, but she never took that much people are ascribing to her. Lets give her a benefit of doubt, lets pray for this woman that God may touch her with his healing hands, and restore her back in complete health. Amen.