Diezani Alison-Madueke, minister of petroleum resources, says she has not committed any crime and is not seeking asylum, even though she stepped on big toes during her tenure. Fielding questions from the media in Abuja on Wednesday, Alison-Madueke — probably the most criticised minister under President Goodluck Jonathan — said her recent meeting with Abdulsalami Abubakar, former head of state, had nothing to do with speculations that she was looking for “soft landing” from the in-coming administration.
“I have not sought such assistance because I am not aware that I have been indicted of any crime that I will need a soft landing. Over the last four years, I have been severally and unfortunately accused and labelled in so many malicious and vindictive ways. I have explained these things and pushed back robustly on these accusations and I have even gone to court on many of them.Yet they keep being regurgitated.
“I think it is unfortunate, particularly when we are moving into a transition period and looking forward to an incoming government which is coming to take over where we have ended. For everything that has a beginning there is an end and that is not a surprise. What is the surprise is the sort of malevolence bothering on personal malicious libel to my person during this period of time.
“I do believe that I have done the best for Nigeria in this job and I have attained many firsts in the history of oil and gas especially in the reforms that we have done. In this period of time, I have stepped on many big toes, particularly the toes of the cabals that were in the industry when we came in.
“I have said severally that we will open up the industry to all Nigerians, and we have, but that is not to the pleasure of certain cabals. And I have been continuously maligned because of this. We have taken millions and in fact billions of dollars out of the hands of multinationals and their subcontractors and put them in the hands of Nigerians through the Nigerian Content. Hundreds of thousands of Nigerians have come into the oil and gas industry because of our reforms.
“Quite frankly, I think as unprecedented as it is, it does not please everybody and that cannot be helped but let us remember the unprecedented reforms that have happened in the oil industry during our time, such as major gas reforms, the Petroleum Industry Bill, which has been completely revised, reformed and put into the hands of members of the National Assembly where it has languished for two years.”
She also spoke on the alleged missing funds from the coffers of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) as well as allegations of wasteful spending by her. According to her, some of the allegations were made because of the reforms contained in the PIB.
“In that bill are all the reforms needed to tear NNPC apart, make it a National Oil company, an equity share company through transparency, accountability and responsibility and reduce corruption in the industry. We did all theses and we put them in place to reduce corruption, so for me to be tagged with various tags of corruption, $10 million jet purchases, who buys jet for $10 million dollars for goodness sake? “And $20 billion missing money for which PWC had done a report and the $1.48 billion which is not missing, which is actually money transferred by the NNPC to NPDC which is a subsidiary and NPDC has actually started making payments under my directives. I have said during our time that there are gaps in the NNPC and I said that openly.
“But I can also say that at no time in Nigerian history in the oil and gas has the NNPC been as open and audited as it is today. It has been positioned to go forward in the industry. It is true that the revenue profile is not sustainable. But we have done our best and the Nigerian oil and gas sector is today in a better shape than it has ever been in terms of achievements that we have recorded.
“So let me state it clearly for the records that Nigeria is my country and I am not going anywhere. I love my country and I do think that I have done the best for my country and I would also like to point these malicious, malevolence, vindictive libels need to stop.
“We have done enough for this industry, we cannot please everybody. Yes, we have stepped on toes but we did that in the best interest of Nigeria and we have opened up the oil and gas industry to all Nigerians, thousands of Nigerians have benefitted from our reforms in the system.”
Alison-Madueke, who rose to the position of director in Shell Nigeria, was appointed minister of transportation (now divided into works, transport and aviation) by late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in 2007.
She was later moved to the ministry of solid minerals, before Jonathan appointed her minister of petroleum.
Along with late Olikoye Ransome-Kuti, who served as minister of health from 1985 to 1993, Alison-Madueke is the longest serving minister in Nigeria’s history.