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Diezani: How not to wear a ‘ministerial’ bra



IN Nigeria, corruption has become common place; destroying all who stand in its way and promoting those who want to entrench it. Let be noted that, sleaze of any magnitude should be condemned, knowing the consequences of allowing it thrive in the land. The one below which has become notorious in the land has made more to question: Was it only her that was a minister? What manner of woman would buy a bra for that ludicrous amount?

Only yesterday, my thoughts went to the allegation of the properties and money recovered from Nigeria’s ex-petroleum minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke (born Diezani Kogbeni Agama). A couple of days I had several bills to pick, but was unable to, and that tells the reader that things are real bad here. It was annoying to say the least, but here is a woman, trusted with public office; protected by Nigerian tax payers’ money, yet by the time she left office, she had amassed so much leaving the economy in tatters.

She is not the only one involved, you must know that. They are in league with several others, who perhaps have not been caught; and whose cases are being investigated by the relevant authorities. The economy is today hemorrhaging on account of some of these malfeasances left to go one by governments in the past.

Don’t get it twisted: Current corrupt practices by government officials are alarming. We have reiterated the fact that there are more Nigerians waiting to engage in one corrupt practice than those who are already in. Sadly, some Nigerians believe that efforts at fighting and stamping it out are not genuinely carried out.

They point to the fact that there are still yet more lands to be conquered and done with; now that the economic crunch continues to affect all no matter the class of people. There are more people suffering on account of the economic crunch than lack of what to eat by same. Everyone is on the fast lane to get rich; as a result, there are sharp practices everywhere, which go against the grain of best practices.

We are the worst for it. Diezani must have been a good student following the Nigerian behaviour in appreciating those ‘who steal for their people’. Come to think of it, there is no community which has publicly denounced any of its sons and daughters for taking money from the public till; even when it is apparent that what they have stolen is not meant for the development of their communities.

All they know is that the man or woman being accused of corruption is their son or daughter ‘who has stolen for us’ from Nigeria while in government or in public service. Whether it is legitimate or not, the fact that the act was committed while in office should not be reason to ‘persecute’ him or her. Many Nigerians believe that an appointment for public service is a license to amass wealth at the detriment of sacrificing for the common good; even if the economy is bleeding. That explains why we are at the precipice economically.

The revelation that came from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) are damning. Imagine if more Nigerians are to join the bandwagon, with each taking home what Mrs. Madueke did while she held forth in the Petroleum Ministry. The $153 million recovered from her was in respect of one of the cases; meaning, there is more to what we have been told..

By the time the revelation was made, she was reported to have $153 million and over 80 properties that have been recovered. The 80 properties recovered from Mrs Alison-Madueke were worth about $80 million. Until his appointment as the EFCC chair in February 2021, Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa headed the commission’s investigative team set up to probe the broad corruption cases involving the former minister, associates and their interests.

Listen to the EFCC boss: “There are several cases surrounding that. As you may have read, I was part of that investigation, and we have done quite a lot. In one of the cases, we recovered $153 million; we have secured the final forfeiture of over 80 properties in Nigeria valued at about $80million”.

If there is any minister whose name has featured prominently in corruption related issues since the exit of President Goodluck Jonathan, she must be the one. Her name has featured in more ways than any either as the main defendant or an accomplice in numerous corruption cases filed in court by the EFCC since her exit from office. Bringing her back to Nigeria to face pending charges against her has proved to be a hard nut to crack for the EFCC.

Mrs. Alison-Madueke, is believed to have escaped to the United Kingdom and remained there after her exit from public office. She ran the petroleum ministry which superintends over the opaque Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) between 2010 and 2015 under the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan. Before then, she was Minister of Transport under President Umaru Yar’Adua.

Since the news broke out on the items Diezani bought from the proceeds of the money she stole from Nigeria, I have not recovered from being surprised. Pray tell me, what a woman would do with a bra worth $12m? In fact, someone had asked: What kind of breast will be behind that kind of bra?

The list of what Diezani is reported to have amassed are painful to recall. A thought of it pricks the heart of any Nigerian who doesn’t believe that it happened right before us.

The said property are said to be located in highbrow Banana Island Foreshore Estate, Ikoyi, Lagos, include 18 flats and six penthouses located at Building 3, Block B, Bella Vista, Plot 1, Zone N, Federal Government Layout.

Other recovered items listed are 125 pieces of wedding gowns, 13 pieces of small gowns, 41 pieces of waist trainers, 73 pieces of hard flower, 11 pieces of suit, 11 pieces of invisible bra, 73 pieces of veils, 30 pieces of braziers, two pieces of standing fan, 17 pieces of magic skits, six packets of blankets, one table blanket and 64 pairs of shoes.

In a report written by Eromo Egbejule is instruction on the manner the ministry has been ran for years. He wrote: Back in May 2010, the death of Umaru Musa Yar’adua precipitated the ascension of Goodluck Jonathan as Nigeria’s president. There was pressure on him from his kinsmen and others within the enclave of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, to run for the 2011 elections. It was only expedient to turn to the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, a major source of election funding for incumbents since the return of democracy in 1999.

To ensure a smooth process, Rilwanu Lukman, the incumbent minister who favoured a restructuring of NNPC into a full commercial entity, was replaced with Diezani Alison-Madueke in a cabinet reshuffle. Mrs. Alison-Madueke eventually became like an unofficial prime minister. From then till May 2015 when the Muhammadu Buhari presidency took over; anyone that stood in her way was removed either by her personally or the presidency acting on her recommendations.

Those in the know say it was the impunity with which Mrs. Alison-Madueke broke the rules that set her apart from those before her. There were times when she stopped receiving visitors at the office and made them come to her in the comfort of her official residence. She would keep governors waiting for hours, dodge calls from CEOs and chairpersons of multinationals employ domestic staff on the bill of the corporation and more.

Mrs. Alison-Madueke allegedly requested kickbacks from her collaborators to approve some contracts and the infamous oil swaps which President Buhari ended in November 2015. Mr. Aluko for instance, admitted paying rent for Mrs Beatrice Agama’s luxury home in Parkwood Point, St. Edmund’s Terrace, St. John’s Wood, London, describing it as “simply gifts to a friend, given long after Atlantic had signed its deal.”

In July 2007, she was named Minister of Transport. Her tenure was brief and uneventful save for when she wept openly in August that year while inspecting a bad road. Between December 2008 and March 2010, she was heading the Ministry of Mines & Steel Development.

During her time in the Ministry of Mines & Steel Development, the agency funded ‘Hollywood Glamour Collection’, a new limited-edition collection of Nigerian gold and gemstone jewelry by the popular jeweler Chris Aire. The collection was unveiled at an exclusive event in Beverly Hills, California on April 7, 2010; barely hours after Mrs. Alison-Madueke had been moved to the petroleum ministry. In the months after, Mr. Aire registered new companies for the sole purpose of being awarded questionable contracts to handle crude lifting, earning over an estimated $30,000 daily.

Beyond Mrs. Alison-Madueke and her oil men, perhaps the biggest fear of stakeholders in the industry is that there could be deja vu in this administration or another. As the salacious details of her time in government circulate, the loopholes that made this possible remain open. The NNPC is still devoid of political independence and total transparency. Newcomers to the party will be happy to take notes – literally.

Nigerians now know better who their enemies are: Our leaders, for all that we care have been responsible for the hiccup in the running of the country. How we have been fleeced by them is beyond our comprehension.

The annoying part of is in what the former minister got enmeshed in. While she regaled in the act while it lasted, often, leaders forget that there is a day for reckoning for them. While they know, perhaps, the mentality to steal ‘as much as it is possible’; though crude, is encourage by the propensity to make life better for the family not the community.

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