Leadership

Diezani Madueke- The expected benefits and disappointments of a powerful Nigerian woman

“I am a woman from the Niger Delta, who, through perseverance and sheer hard work rose to one of the highest positions in the country’s premier International Oil Company, and in tune with my ethos of hard work, I earned the prestigious British Foreign and Commonwealth Chevening Scholarship Award and was, thereafter, admitted to my MBA programme at the World renowned Cambridge University,”

Diezani Alison-Madueke said as quoted by John Owen Chukwuemeka of the Daily Post on August 15th, 2017.

According to her biography and some reports Alison-Madueke has held significant positions in different prominent sectors. Diezani Alison-Madueke was elected at the 166th OPEC Ordinary meeting in Vienna on the 27th of November 2014 as the first female President of OPEC while she held the post of Nigeria’s minister of Petroleum Resources- first woman- since April 2010 under the administration of former president Goodluck Jonathan. Before 2010 she held the post of Minister of Transportation- first female- and, Mines and Steel Development. She studied Architecture in the United Kingdom and then graduated from Howard University in the United States with a bachelor’s degree. After which she obtained an MBA degree from Cambridge university in 2002. Incredibly, she was also the first woman ever to be appointed by Shell as an Executive Director in Nigeria before her political pursuit.

A very well deserved accolade for her professional achievements and educational background. For a woman to push that far to being the “First woman” in such powerful seats, she indeed fought a strong army, broke hefty barriers and pulled down giant walls. She will forever be an inspiration to many young women who are dreaming beyond the status quo. Her titles will indeed stand the test of time in history books. However, her reign did not end well. A regrettable lack of foresight was the root of it all.

She was unfortunately levelled against by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for allegedly stealing public funds through several allegations of financial misconduct from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Nigerian treasury. Earlier, controversy had first knocked on her door when the government decided to remove state subsidies on fuel prices, making it the most contentious policy introduced under Alison-Madueke ministry. The proposed plan was supported by her and in fairness the discontinuation of the subsidy, that disproportionately benefited the rich by stimulated corruption, diversion and inefficiency of already scarce public resources was the way to go. Even though the prices shot up making it unfavourable for the ordinary man, the reform was expected to lift the government’s huge financial burden. Hence, reallocating funds in the budget to coordinate investments and developments of both federal and state critical infrastructures. When the EFCC alleged that she by an order of a Federal High Court has forfeited $153.3 million to the Federal Government, Diezani’s refuted such claim in a statement that was made available to newsmen in Abuja and published under the article “Diezani finally breaks silent on $90 million loot” by John Owen Chukwuemeka of the Daily Post on August 15th, 2017, which reads,

“I wish to state I cannot forfeit what was never mine.
I do not know the basis on which the EFCC has chosen to say that I am the owner of these funds as no evidence was provided to me before the order was obtained, and they have not, in fact, served me with the order or any evidence since they obtained it.
Let me re-state categorically as I have always maintained, for the record, I have not and will never steal money from or defraud the Federal Government of Nigeria. I am willing to respond to charges brought against me that follow duly laid down procedures,” she said.

There are many reasons to question the allegations and actions of the EFCC, as we have heard of their malpractices in similar cases, but the chances to refute such claim against Alison-madueke is very slim, because other people who were accused alongside her on suspicion of money laundering, bribery and corruption offences had one way or the other settled out of court. Also, the amount of people who had cried foul kept rolling over as the months went by with accusations of awarding multi-billion Naira contracts without recourse to due process, recklessly spending of government funds and wasting billions of Nigerian naira inappropriately on private jets. Such worrisome claims had lead to an invitation by the Nigerian senate who indicted her and recommended prosecution for transferring large sums of money without appropriate procedures. Also, the former governor of the central bank of Nigeria (CBN) Sanusi questioned her judgements and management, after he went public with charges of financial malpractices- a theft of $2 billion from the NNPC- which went viral. She however dismissed his accusation, saying it was out of spite and his profession was a counterattack.

We insinuate that powerful woman mostly have no mercy and takes no prisoners especially when men try to undermine their authority. Well, this seems to be true as someone with such capability tend to have a chip on their shoulder. It is rumoured that she stepped on the toes of many powerful man before her and in a country like ours which is majorly masculine, they would have waited to deal with her immediately her feet graces the floor from her “power cloud”. No doubt she was fit for the job, but in a country like Nigeria that breaths and feeds off corruption, it would not be long before she in roped into one and since it was her office, she is expected to go down for other peoples wrongdoings other than hers. In the case of a failed kidnap of her and her son in her abuja resident which was reported sometime in 2014, we will never know what warranted such a barbaric action.

Was her name just tarnished because she was a hardworking woman who rose beyond expectations or did she really steal our money- a distasteful act that subverts her achievements and the lives of Nigerians. We will never know. There is a phrase which says “there is no smoke without fire”, but i beg to differ, sometimes fires are started without any smoke. When your enemies are out to get you they will do anything possible to destroy you or tarnish your image. Hence, possibly demote you if you are on the same wave length as they are.

But the majority thinks “yes” she indeed stole from us. A reputation which has now hindered all her hard work and future ambitions. The saying which goes “what you do speaks better than what you say” is very evident in this situation. If she had acted in a way which was philanthropic, we the public would have not thrown further stones at her. But why wont we, when there were alleged rumours of her purchasing a particular hermes handbag with diamonds worth over a million dollars, the different luxurious houses she owned abroad and amongst other. This is very painful to hear when she was supposed to be a public servant with not so much benefits.

One of my main issue with Alison is that i fail to find anywhere on the internet about someone who graced such powerful seats had help other women to rise and when i mean rise, i mean ascend either next or above her. Empowered women are supposed to empower women. Were there no skilful women in the industry with alike or higher education or knowledge that she could have placed in strategic positions or was she those type of women that will not see other women rise like her. Women must uplift other women, as we are our only hope to lessen the power gap between men. In a society were women are at the mercy of men due to the fact that they know we are our own worst enemies, mostly take advantage of women by asking for all sort of demeaning things before one can either secure a job, get a contract or even retain a job. This imprisonment that worsens everyday would have subsided by now if the likes of our former petroleum minster and women who hold powerful positions make it a mandate to genuinely support other women who are fit for the job. Come to think of it, she had her own fare share on alleged rumours and reports of having an affair with former president GEJ, because it is seen in this part of the world that women cannot attain such masculine positions without a romance from her employer, regardless of her unquestionable achievements and experience. The stigma that any successful woman is a “whore” is as a result of the many selfish difficult request men present woman with, knowing that they have no choice as their fellow women will not help them. However, if the woman wants to engage in such practices, it should be on her own free will and not forced. It was never supposed to be a mandate.

Also, if truly she stole such money, did she use some of the money to improve improvise communities, such as renovating public schools, supplying state of the art medical equipments and monetary pledges to orphanage or old peoples home? Humanitarian attribute is a force beyond boarders. Even if it was not her sector, she would have intervened, setting up committees to manage, receive and fund people at the bottom of the pyramid, through reputable institutes in the country because she was not only powerful, but influential. She had the ears of the then president, therefore, with a flick of her fingers anyone can be called upon to help improve some of the dilapidated infrastructures sitting ugly. In a nut shell, she would have solicited on behave of Nigerians on issues through hers and other ministries that would have been a tremendous help to the citizens at large, as we mostly rely on their everyday judgements and decision for a better life- a Nigeria where the margin between the rich and the poor continually decreases.

Furthermore, in the news it was rumoured that the Nigerian federal court seized 7.6 billion Naira ($21 million) from bank accounts linked to Alison-Madueke. My take is, if she stole to give to the poor the court would have had its hands tied from seizing the acquisitions and properties meant for public use. Therefore, she would have been celebrated as a hero. Hence, making it difficult to loose her reputable name or properties as there were reports saying that her home in Asokoro, Abuja was raided and sealed by anti-corruption agents of the EFCC. It is said that the $18 million property should be promoted as a tourist attraction- the Egyptian pyramid of Nigeria’s dissolute and feckless way of life.

Diezani had no use for that kind of money. The magnitude of the alleged stolen money was too great for one person. That is a country’s GDP. I have researched and there are little to no well informed articles on the internet were she was charitable before she fled the country. Although there were scanty stories but what was more evident relates to the popular saying, “the only constant thing in life is change”. Now she is confined in silence, celebrating her birthdays without the constant persisting crowd of recipients who flock into her office and resident, and the usual anniversary announcement from media houses through sponsored newspaper adverts and radio jingles from her billionaire friends. Also, a recent publication claimed that residents can now jog freely past her exquisite lekki home in Lekki phase 1, Lagos without being accosted, interrogated or harassed by the heavily armed guard who were positioned at the gate of the used to be “no go area” in the estate.

With regards to existing claims, how can someone be that immoral? I find this distasteful and worrisome. She would have been a queen to many, loved and praised by the crowd. An overwhelming support by the masses would have challenged what ever evil that was brought against her by the EFCC and media houses, as a people united for a purpose is more powerful than any government. The kind of united voice that sent GEJ packing irrespective of the glaring INEC negligence and misconduct. Now the public think’s that she is on exile till further notice even if she had shared her ill-health to the public.

In all honesty and regardless of whether she was wicked, a thief or neither, she held powerful positions that women should aspire to become. With regards to her misfortune, it should be a lesson if one’s intensions are solely to acquire wealth or have no philanthropic desire to improve the lot of other people. A good name like they always say is better than richest, as riches would fade away but a heroic name would always stand in all eternity.

X pj

Categories: Leadership, Socio-Economic

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