This Diezani should not die! -By Waheed Bakare

Filed under: National Issues |



Diezani Alison-Madueke, Nigeria’s immediate past petroleum resources minister, is undoubtedly beautiful and attractive. Alison-Madueke’s gorgeous look predates her ascendancy to the sheikdom of our oil empire, a position hitherto monopolised by men for years until she broke that monopoly. She wielded enormous power under the immediate past administration. But today, nobody talks about how gorgeous she is. Rather it is how well she oiled our monolithic machine or left it rusty for the four years she was in charge.

It is not esoteric that she is the most mentioned and perhaps the most vilified among the ministers that served under former president Goodluck Jonathan. How can we forget the mind-boggling allegation that she and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) squandered over N10 billion to charter a private jet, Challenger 850? But since a Federal High Court in Abuja asked the House of Representatives Public Accounts Committee to put the probe of the former minister in abeyance, it will be subjudice to talk about the scandal. To some Nigerians, she is perceived as devious, arrogant and a member of the cabal that plundered our economy to a sorry state.

They even accused her of creating an aura of untouchable around herself when she was a minister. There have been insinuations suggesting she lacks modicum of reputation. When the news of her illness went viral on the internet, the majority of commentators accused her of feigning her illness in order arouse sympathy and pity that will present her as a victim of evil machination spearheaded by those who are envious of this flamboyant woman. But ‘sources’ who claimed to be members of her family stoutly rose in the defence of their “daughter” who is “currently under close medical examination in a UK hospital where she is receiving treatment.”

Power is indeed ephemeral. One can imag-ine how many times Alison-Madueke’s phones ring in a day. May be her phones too no longer ring just like Dr. Reuben Abati’s. And if they still ring, doctors, according to the former minister’s family, had advised her to neither pick nor make calls “to avoid any risk of infection which will be extremely harmful to her.” Beyond her “family members”, I foresee an array of people coming to her defence in the days ahead as the melodrama of what role each distinguished thespian played under Jonathan in this theatre of absurdity that saw our economy plundered to this nadir.

After all rent-a-crowd is part of our ploy to whip up sentiment. While in the US, President Muhammadu Buhari alleged that one million barrels of oil were being stolen under Alison-Madueke by a few individuals who laughed all the way to the bank without remitting a kobo into Nigeria’s account.

Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State also painted a calamitous and gloomier picture that an unnamed US official revealed that a minister under former president Goodluck Jonathan helped him/herself with our “$6 billion.” If it is true, Nigerians are interested in knowing who is the thieving minister? Was Oshiomhole, who was reportedly present at a crucial meeting at Blair House, Washington, DC, between President Buhari and the US Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, where the name of the said minister was mentioned, playing to the gallery? For crying out loud, $6 billion is big even in countries with bigger economy like the US, Japan or China. I don’t know how authentic Oshiomhole’s claim is, but if we are to rely on what Jonathan told a shocked nation during one of his media chats, we will soon know if that money was indeed “stolen” or not.

Remember that we are talking about dollars here and America will know wherever their dollar is according to the former president. While Alison-Madueke’s family “sources” were not shy to tell Nigerians to let their precious daughter be, the man in charge of the amnesty programme under the Jonathan’s administration, Mr. Kingsley Kuku, took his destiny in his own hands. He took advantage of the maxim that pictures don’t tell lies. He has released pictures of his knee operation at St. Andrew Hospital, Birmingham, Alabama, US. Kuku, a former presidential adviser on Niger Delta, said he left N5.3 billion in the account of the amnesty programme assuring us that his hands are clean and is ready to answer the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s questions. More of such theatrics will soon be revealed.

This may be season of fear-induced illness. I can see many more people finding foreign hospitals as safe haven except that those feigning illness will be disappointed that such child-like simplicity can only provide a temporary relief. It will cost little or nothing before curious patients are smoked out like rats in holes. It is within the ambience of the inalienable right of Alison-Madueke’s family, friends and acquaintances to defend her and she is not precluded from defending herself. But neither madam nor her defenders should appear desperate.

This is not even the time to get paranoid. Paranoia can damage her reputation and soil her integrity. A paranoid person will rather whip up sentiment than defend himself or herself. And once reputation is damaged, rebuilding it is always difficult if not impossible.

Although all the inferences about the perceived negativity surrounding Alison- Madueke’s tenure as oil minister are within the realm of speculation, they are enough to give her concern if she cares about her reputation. And the only way she can prove her innocence is to get well soon and clear the mess on her table. Some Nigerians are already insinuating that her illness is not for real.

But she needs to tell such people that only the immortal is exempted from illness except that her words will only sink if they are uttered at home where her attention is needed rather than within the four walls of a foreign hospital. Alison-Madueke needs to make her reputation unassailable while she makes hole in the reputation of her “detractors” if she has the courage to do so and is sure she can.

Since I have not seen any certified medical certificate which shows that she is as fit as a fiddle, I will distance myself from the insinuation that she feigned her illness. As Nigerians eagerly wait to see how so many controversies surrounding this former minister are unravelled, I pray that her convalescence should not be a long and painful one. I also pray that this Diezani Alison-Madueke should not die.