Nigeria’s Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, has denied planning to flee the country to escape alleged corruption charges under the incoming Buhari government.
Mrs. Alison-Madueke struck a defiant tone Wednesday, dismissing allegations that six countries had denied her requests for asylum. The minister said she had no plan to escape as she was not indicted for any offence.
Following her recent meeting with former Head of State, Abdulsalami Abubakar, the minister said speculations have been rife that she is looking for a “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,” Mrs. Alison-Madueke told journalists at the presidential villa in Abuja Wednesday.
“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.
While noting that everything that has a beginning must have an end, Mrs. Alison-Madueke said she was surprised at the scale of “malicious libel” directed at her person.
The minister said she has done the best for Nigeria in her present job and has attained many firsts in the history of oil and gas especially in the reforms she has initiated.
Mrs. Alison-Madueke said she was targeted because of her work, and suggested attacks on her were the results of her boldness to bruise powerful interests in the oil and gas industry.
“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 said 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.”
According to her, 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.
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 lamented that even after the Petroleum Industry Bill was completely revised and reformed, the National Assembly has failed to pass it into law two years after it was presented.
She also said that the refund of the missing $1.48 billion from the accounts of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, has commenced.
The embattled 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.”