…And Diezani opens up | Independent Newspapers Limited
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COLUMNIST, Inside the Presidency

…And Diezani opens up

Posted: Apr 26, 2015 at 12:01 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Inside The Presidency

That Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke, is a privileged member of the current federal cabinet is not in doubt. That she has been in the news over allegations of corruption is not news too.

Even the latest twist in the stories of her alleged plans to escape ‘judgement day’ by either begging for mercy or fleeing the country when a new government takes over next month, has become stale. But for newsmen, a personal response to all these allegations will always make fresh story.

This is why Madam Minister had been on the radar watch of State House correspondents for the past few days. However, her privileged status in the Villa helped shield her away from prying microphones and cameras.

She is one of the few cabinet members who drive in and out of the Villa using the special gate reserved for Service Chiefs and former heads of state/presidents; Secretary to the Government of the Federation; and Head of the Civil Service of the Federation.

The first Minister to demand and be accorded that privilege was Nasir el-Rufai, as Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in the government of Olusegun Obasanjo. Since then, subsequent FCT Ministers have been using that gate.

The privileged list has since lengthened to now include the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Adoke Bello; Minister of Defence, Aliyu Gusau; Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Ensconced in their tinted-glassed sport utility vehicles, these cabinet members can drop off almost at the steps of the President’s office without walking the long corridors of the Villa where the chances of encountering journalists are higher.

So, with all the questions floating around her, the Petroleum Minister still floated in and out of the Villa without having to speak to the cameras. In fact, on one occasion last week penultimate week, when she visited the President accompanied by former Head of State, General Abdusalami Abubakar, Diezani waited out the journalists who had laid ambush for her. She refused to come out until the reporters got tired of waiting for her to emerge from the President’s office. She remained elusive, until last Wednesday.

Before then, she had responded to some of the reports against her via press statements, especially after she made a brief trip abroad and an online report claimed she had fled the country to escape being jailed. But on Wednesday, she was put on the spot by State House reporters.

Looking and sounding very confident and problem-free, one wondered how Diezani got her groove back. Anyway, she gave the journalists an earful; telling them that a cabal of the multinational oil companies had been at work against her. I just wonder why this cabal – she once worked with one of the foreign oil companies anyway –  is still at work against her even when she has just a few days left in office. Or, has it got something to do with her presidency of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)? You can be sure the multinationals will keep quiet on this one. That is how they operate. But I can’t forget her declaring that “Nigeria is my country and I am not going anywhere!” So, even after she leaves office, we are stuck with her!!