Ms. Diezani Alison-Madueke, Nigeria’s Petroleum Minister, on Wednesday dismissed any rumor of her planning to flee the country to escape alleged corruption charges under the incoming Buhari government. There had been allegations against the minister saying, six countries had denied her request for asylum.
In a recent meeting with former head of state, Abdulsalami Abubakar, speculations had it that the minister was looking for a “soft landing” from the in-coming administration.
She said; “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 labeled 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,” she said.
The Minister who said she had done her best for Nigeria as minister of petroleum, also made it clear that she was surprised at the scale of “malicious libel” directed at her person. Ms. Alison also felt she was targeted due to her work which was as a result of her boldness to bruise powerful interest in the petroleum sector.
“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.”
With the reforms initiated under her watch, she said hundreds of thousands of Nigerians are now playing major roles the oil and gas industry, a situation she said has irked many people. She said under her watch, the ministry has taken billions of dollars from multinationals and their subcontractors and put them in the hands of Nigerians through the Nigerian content law.
The Minister also spoke on the refund of the missing ₦1.48 billion from the National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), which she said had commenced. The minister debunked claims that the money was missing from the accounts of the NNPC, saying that the funds were transferred to the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), an NNPC subsidiary.
A forensic audit conducted by the PriceWaterHouseCoopers on behalf of the Federal Government on the operations of the NNPC had shown that the management of the corporation engaged in many questionable deals.
The audit was carried out following allegations by the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Lamido Sanusi that over $20 billion was missing from the NNPC accounts.
“PriceWaterHouseCooper’s forensic audit that was done a few weeks ago in its recommendation mentioned that $1.48 billion was owed by NDPC for a bloc that has hitherto been assigned from the NNPC to NDPC which is its subsidiary and they felt that the right process would be that the NPDC will refund that money to the Federation Account,” Mrs. Alison-Madueke said.
“NPDC has apparently started making the refunds and it is also in discussion with NNPC and DPR on same. So the refund has actually begun.”