Senate Approve Allison-Madueke, Mohammed, Wogu Four Others As Ministers
ABUJA, June 29, (THEWILL) - The Senate without any dissenting voice Wednesday unanimously confirmed the controversial former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke and six other ministerial nominees as Ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Also the Senate approved request by President Goodluck Jonathan to appoint 20 Special Advisers.
Others who crossed the legislative hurdle barely twenty four hours after the Senate officially received 34 nominees from President Goodluck Jonathan are former Ministers of Labour and Productivity, Barr. Emeka Wogu; Federal Capital Territory, Bala Mohammed; Education, Ruqayyatu Rufai; Niger Delta's Godsday Orubebe; Health's Onyebuchi Chukwu; and former Minister of State for FCT, Caleb Olubolade.
The screening which will continue on Thursday dragged for over six hours, with senators taking turns to ask the nominees questions on related areas of their previous portfolios.
However, despite the much speculated possibility of blocking Allison-Madueke over several allegations of fraud and her skipping the compulsory one year National Youth Service Corps Programme (NYSC), the senators instead gave her a pat on the back and literarily asked her to bow and go.
From the onset it was obvious that the exercise was going to be business as usual for ministerial nominees at the Senate contrary to the position of Senate Leader Victor Ndoma-Egba, who had said nominees would be grilled thoroughly.
It was also obvious that the Presidency had done a lot of ground work on Mrs. Allison-Madueke’s behalf as the Senate even went out of its way to give her an easy ride.
The former Petroleum Minister was listed as number three in order of appearance but appeared before the Senate four hours after her turn had lapsed as number six. All this time, she was outside the door of the Senate chamber lobbying and talking to one senator after the other with the help of controversial Senator Smart Adeyemi (PDP, Kogi State). The same senator that said multinationals and lobbyists were pressuring senators with cash inducements to block her nomination.
L-R: MRS DIEZANI ALLISON-MADUEKE AND CONTROVERSIAL SENATOR SMART ADEYEMI STRATEGIZING OUTSIDE THE SENATE CHAMBER BEFORE DIEZANI WAS SCREENED.
When she eventually took her turn, it was Smart Adeyemi and Phillip Aduda Taminu (PDP, FCT), who both had met with her outside that Senate President David Mark called up to question her.
They did not ask her about the series of allegations of corruption levelled against her in the media nor did the question her about her docking the compulsory NYSC.
It was indeed a well orchestrated and managed session to please President Jonathan and Mrs. Allison-Madueke, who have been alleged to be romantically involved as far back as Mr. Jonathan’s days as Bayelsa State governor.
Emboldened by the attention given to her, she brilliantly navigated out of the land mines and was of course rewarded with unanimous approval the Senators.
Answering several questions, which were centered on the achievements recorded in the oil sector during her tenure and the projections for the future, she declared that the Nigeria Content Act was taken up by Jonathan who showed aggressive implementation although it rebounded from international oil concerns.
"Nigerians are now given first consideration. As long as you are a Nigerian and have technical and financial wherewithal you can come in," she said.
Nonetheless, she assured that the removal of subsidy from petroleum products would not be slapped on Nigerians unless necessary actions are taken to mitigate the possible pains that could result from it.
Despite this, she declared that the aim of the subsidy has failed as it is only being enjoyed by marketers and not the man on the street.
According to her, the federal government currently spends over a trillion naira on the subsidy, but the end buyers are being denied the benefits by middlemen who sell to them at much higher cost prices.
She further explained that the same is responsible for Kerosene scarcity where she accused middlemen of hoarding and diverting the product for aviation use.
She regretted that despite the supply of 11 million litres needed per day only 8 million litres per day are supplied. “The result is that retail buyers are still finding it difficult to access it,” she said.
Mrs. Allison-Madueke also hinted on the much talked about search for oil in northern Nigeria saying the ongoing search would soon yield result, as experts have given assurances of hitting the black gold in the Chad basin within the next 24 months, just as efforts will continue in the Benue turf.
"A team of experts under the leadership of Prof. Ajekeye, a professional geologist are working hard on the project and in the next 24 months Nigeria will hit oil in the Chad," she promised.
She also informed Nigerians that a “robust programme” has been put in place to effect a turnaround maintenance of the nation’s refineries and build additional three, such that, in three years time Nigeria will stop importing petroleum products.
“Our refineries are not abandoned, they have been moved from 30% capacity utilization to 60%; we have put in place, a robust turnaround maintenance programme for the refineries; we have brought in companies that originally built the refineries for their turn around for at least, 90% capacity utilization;
“We have signed an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with the Chinese, to build three additional refineries in Kogi and other places; in three years time, Nigeria will be a net exporter of refined products and stop importing,” Allison countered.
Urging the senate to take a second look at the Petroleum Industry Bill with a view to redressing contentious areas for necessary passage into law, Mrs. Alison-Madueke explained that the Bill was meant for “gas industrialization revolution” that would provide the citizens with one million jobs.