Why Diezani Should Not Return To The Petroleum Ministry

Source: THEWILL. - thewillnigeria.com

SAN FRANCISCO, June 05, (THEWILL) - Citizens of any country of the world usually get concerned about public offices and the servants mandated to oversee them. It is only human that these servants are expected to be above disrepute. Even apolitical citizens care about this fact, since their daily lives are affected directly or indirectly. That is why the media, as mouthpiece of the people strive to disseminate relevant information, and in the process put the people’s feelings into words. Reporters might sound like broken records in matters like these, but we will not let up.

Various parties including us believe Mrs. Diezani Allison- Madueke, the former Minister for Petroleum Resources should not be reassigned to the petroleum ministry nor even return as member of the new Federal Executive Council as Nigeria is determined, through the just- concluded general elections to move forward and not give corruption a permanent place in our system. We maintain that Mrs. Allison-Madueke’s excesses and incessant abuse of office should be discouraged.

We hear President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is on the verge of returning her to the Ministry of Petroleum Resources as Minister even as opposition to his yet to be announced unpopular decision continues to grow by the day.

Diezani obviously wants to be re- appointed Minister for Petroleum Resources while the acts of corruption she allegedly masterminded in that Ministry still stink to high heavens. She claims to revamp the system, while Transparency International, an organisation that monitors performance index on integrity and transparency in the sector, rated the NNPC during her stewardship as one of the bottom eight oil companies on earth; in terms of performance and accountability. According to the 2011 report titled: “Promoting Revenue Transparency”, NNPC is one of the eight worst performing companies worldwide, as their demonstration of any commitment to stop misappropriation of revenue is zero. NNPC also scored zero for poor organisational disclosure – the corporation which Deziani oversees failed to divulge relevant information to the TI assessment team; supporting the widespread concern about poor accountability practices in the company.

What allegedly led to this very poor rating? It is the discovery that Mrs. Allison- Madueke deliberately usurped the functions and authorities of the de- facto CEO of the NNPC, deepening the oil cartel into more secrecy and corrupt diversion of oil proceeds. According to sources at the Ministry, the invoice on sold crude and actual revenue accruing to the country do not usually tally. Strange? Diezani as Petroleum Minister got the President’s approval to supervise the NNPC, DPR and the PPPRA. After the approval was given, she replaced key officials with her trusted men and the merry started at the expense of the Nigerian state.

Her abuse of office started with disobeying a court order against her husband’s company, Excel Exploration and Production Company Limited. The scandal still trails her and the Ministry. According to reliable Presidency sources, she got President Goodluck Jonathan to change NNPC Group Managing Directors twice in less than sixty days into her stewardship, and muzzled the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) into not complying with the court-directive to put a lien on all financial operations of Eremor Offshore oil field operated by Excel. Diezani, in her bid to ensure the non- enforcement of the lien, removed all the decision- makers in DPR who supported the court’s decision under the guise of restructuring for “greater efficiency” in the sector, according to her.

Why was the lien imposed? Excel, the company chaired by Retired Rear Admiral Allison Madueke, failed to fulfil their end of an agreement with Alphin Fleury and Partners, a private company in Switzerland hired by the London office of the NNPC to organise financiers for several Nigerian companies that are operating marginal oil fields. Excel breached the contract when, after getting funds organised by Alphin, refused to pay a finder fee. Many court proceedings later, the lien was placed on Excel and what did Diezani do? She used her office to contravene it. Now, foreign investors would think twice as always before doing business with Nigerian companies. Way to go, Diezani!

What about the $8 per metric tonne bribery scandal where contracts for the importation of petroleum products were dished out at the PPPRA to only those Oil & Gas companies willing to play ball? As we write, no one has been fired but more than $14 million dollars in cash allegedly changed hands with Diezani’s knowledge and approval, otherwise how come no one has been brought to book or forced to resign at the PPPRA or even the petroleum ministry?

There is also the investigation by the Senate Committee on Petroleum (upstream) into three (3) oil blocks – OML 4, 30 and 41, which she discreetly and illegally assigned exploration rights to Septa Energy Nigeria Limited, owned by a group of Nigerians operating a London registered oil company – Seven Energy International Limited. The companies are operated by Kolawole Aluko, Phillip Iheanacho, Toyin Subair and Jide Omokore.

The federal government maintained a 55 per cent stake in the blocks representing billions of naira. The blocks are located in Sapele, Oben and Amukpe, all in Delta State.

The Senate committee was however unable to conclude its investigations because she arrogantly refused to appear before the committee to answer questions even though she was invited several times.

Sadly, Diezani and scandals go way back. Just about when she was made Petroleum Minister after her uneventful sojourn as Minister in the Ministry for Mines and Steel Development, she pulled one of her stunts. She allegedly arm twisted CBN Governor Lamido Sanusi into, as a favour to her, prevailing upon four Nigerian banks, in the heat of a global recession to dole out more than $2 million for a fashion show, organised by diamond designer Chris Aire, to help promote his brand in the United States. Diezani and Chris are quite close and the show was packaged under the guise of creating awareness for the untapped gold and gemstone resources in Nigeria.

The banks --Diamond, First, Guaranty Trust and First City Monument Bank were the donors. It was tagged, “Chris Aire- ‘Hollywood Glamour Collection’2010 Nigeria’s Pride- Gold and Gemstones. The high- class event was held on April 07, 2010 at the prestigious and elite Beverly Hills Hotel on Sunset Boulevard in Beverly Hills, California.

Chris Aire, 'Iceman' at the lavish event.
The event was so lavish that invited guests had their $34,000- a night valet parking paid for them from the pool of funds donated by the Nigerian banks.

In fact, the banks bankrolled the entire event including accommodation for guests that came from out of state and abroad. The big deal? The event was organised at the peak of the recession and other countries, including Nigeria were adversely affected. CBN was just about to bailout 5 banks. Think about the irresponsibility in blowing $2m+ of other people’s money in one night because you are in a position of power and influence?

Then, there is the theory that in her desperation to return as Minister of Petroleum Resources and stamp her indispensible seal on the system, she allegedly master- minded a temporary fuel and kerosene scarcity a few weeks ago. According to industry- watchers, Diezani was trying to fuel into the system the idea that she ran the system efficiently and without her there will be indiscipline and chaos. Her “detractors” share this view as they claim that “she started creating explosions and artificial scarcity as well, as she was about to leave.”

The former Minister a few days ago started a propaganda campaign to ensure she returns to the oil Ministry and has threatened to sue any media that prints whatever she considers offensive. She claimed that a ‘cartel’ responsible for the decay in the petroleum sector is behind the bad press she has been getting.

But for us at THEWILL, the fact remains that Diezani’s corrupt reputation is bad for the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and President Jonathan’s Presidency, that is, if he means the fight against graft and bad governance.

A source at NNPC told THEWILL early this week, “whatever you report, the slant will not matter. Mr. President believes in her and I think she is going to be back in order to continue the wreck.” Time and only time will tell.