Between APC and Diezani
The Progressive Congress (APC) has taken it upon itself to aggressively demand for the resignation of the most controversial woman in the federal government, Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani AlisonMadueke. At presumably great expense, APC pays for full page adverts in national newspapers outlining their reasons why the minister should resign. The first thought that comes to mind is why on earth they would want to waste all that money? No Nigerian minister has ever been known to “resign honourably” no matter what adverse circumstances they find themselves in. Furthermore from all indications the situation isn’t about to change. The recent immigration employment fiasco illustrated that even where the most corrupt, despicably wicked, exploitative and condemnable behaviour by a minister is exposed he will neither resign honourably, nor be sacked in disgrace. The APC’s advertisement signed by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, is a weak presentation of the reasons why Diezani must go. According to Mohammed, it’s all about a “missing” 20 billion US dollars and what could purportedly have been done with the money. There is no mention of the fact that our oil industry is in a complete mess, petrol queues have become common once again, kerosene is scarce, gas is overpriced or that corruption and fraud in the industry continues unabated. Diezani has held three significant portfolios in the Federal Executive Council. She has at various times been transport minister, minister of mines and steel, and petroleum minister. During her tenure in these ministries she has achieved nothing of significance in discharge of official functions. As the first woman to hold the post of Petroleum Resources minister, she is not without controversy. In 2008 she was subjected to a Senate
All probe after it emerged that as transport minister she had paid 30.9 billion naira to contractors during the Christmas break between 26th and 31st of December! She was also indicted by the Senate for the alleged transfer of 1.2 billion naira into the private account of a toll company without due process and in breach of concession agreement. While those in the oil industry allege that she is corrupt and incompetent, the president continues to keep her in office. All efforts to either remove Diezani or assign her to a less vital or lucrative portfolio have fallen on deaf ears because under her the NNPC has become the ATM machine which finances government’s excesses. The APC advert didn’t point out that Diezani has failed woefully to stop the rot in the industry. Under her watch party agents, family members, political associates and PDP cronies have enriched themselves through fraudulent subsidy claims and other sharp practices. In December 2010 a KPMG forensic report on NNPC commissioned by the Federal Government detailed violations of regulations, illegal deduction of funds and the failure to account for several billions of naira. Every report on our petroleum industry without exception states that under Diezani the NNPC is out of control, accountable to no one, and directly responsible for owing billions of dollars to suppliers and hundreds of billions of naira to the nation. However to be fair to her, as Petroleum Minister she is yet to be accused of an act of commission. Her failure is all about acts of omission and an inability to restructure the industry in such a manner that Nigerians may reap the benefits of their main natural asset. Strong people make things happen and weak people let things happen. She has let things go wrong. All the fuss about her lifestyle and spending billions hiring private jets is belated. It shouldn’t really come as a surprise to anyone. Our political class has only a superficial belief in democracy and the equality of citizens. They believe in it only to the extent to which it serves their selfish purposes. Rather than try to improve the living conditions of the populace, their major pre-occupation is personal enrichment and self-aggrandizement. Most top politicians and political appointees fly charter. The local wing of the Abuja airport has been reserved for private jets which according to reports number around 45. Diezani belongs to the class of Nigerians renowned for frequent overseas travel, medical tourism, purchase of luxury goods and accommodation, overseas schooling for their children, and lavish overindulgent multi-million naira celebrations of weddings, burials and anniversaries. Her son lives a life of excess and complete debauchery in America with private jet travel, luxury ship vacations, and constant partying. The legendary American business mogul Donald Trump once said that one of the key problems today is that politics is such a disgrace that good people don’t go into government. Back to the superficial APC advert. There is no explanation as to whether the $8.7 allegedly spent on kerosene subsidy is part of the allegedly missing $20 billion. There is nowhere where the Minister is alleged to have benefitted from the alleged missing funds. It is fallacious to argue that under PDP the missing money would have been otherwise spent productively as a good proportion of it is more likely to have gone missing through other conduit channels! Does the 50 year payment for 160,000 teachers’ factor in any salary increase? What is the wisdom in paying a meagre 5,000 per month to 50 million people for one year? What happens after that? That Diezani must be replaced is self-evident. That replacing her will not solve the problems of the oil industry is also self-evident. Although we must focus on the practices in the industry and not the Minister, the situation cannot be allowed to continue. It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. With the unrelenting official APC uproar against her stewardship of the oil industry Diezani would do well to set an example by resigning before the wind of change sweeps her out. Otherwise she should be aware that a person who is trampled by an elephant is someone who is both blind and deaf.