I Never stole from Nigeria – Alison-Madueke addresses Sanusi and $10m private jet allegations

In a fresh interview with ThisDay, immediate
past Minister of Petroleum Resources, Dieziani Alison Madueke reacted
to all the allegations of corruptions leveled against her while she
served as Minister. Alison-Madueke said contrary to reports, she never
stole from the Nigerian state. She said she worked for the betterment
of Nigeria while she was Minister and sacrificed her time to ensure the
petroleum sector was developed. 


In
the interview, Alison-Madueke acknowledged that she and her team might
have made mistakes. Read full interview…





“Did
we make mistakes? There would always be mistakes. People would always
make mistakes. Everybody make mistakes and there is no question about
that. Have we learnt from our mistakes? Of course we have. But please do
not say I stole $20 billion or $18.5 billion because I did not at any
point in time. And if NNPC misappropriated funds or so, they have the
entire explanation and more forensic audit should be done to determine
how and why. But people should not make damaging accusations which have
nothing to do with an individual. At no point did I steal from the
Nigerian state. 
And if NNPC
misappropriated funds or so, they have the entire explanation and more
forensic audit should be done to determine how and why. But people
should not make damaging accusations which have nothing to do with an
individual. At no point did I steal from the Nigerian state.  In fact,
the first mantra I had from the time I came in was that I will never
touch anything that has to do with the Federation Account and I never
did and I will take that to my grave. So I will suggest that this issue
of $20 billion or $18 billion be dropped because that is the major
problem I had with my job. I was accused of unsavoury things, but which
were actually accusations against NNPC and the audit was deployed to
clarify all these things. So let us deal with the issues. I have never
gone around accusing people of doing this or that, I have always stuck
with the issues even when I was the most abused minister, I was
professional, I stuck to the issues and responded only to the
issues.”she said




The
former Minister addressed allegations made against her by Emir of Kano
and former CBN governor, Sanusi Muhammad 1st, that she disobeyed the
directive of former President Umar Yar’Adua to stop the subsidy plan on
Kerosine. 




Let
me just make this very clear to Nigeria as a whole because this is an
area of great pain for me. That Sanusi should say I sustained the
subsidy is not true, when very clearly in 2009, the late President
Yar’Adua gave a written directive to the late Minister of Petroleum
Resources Alhaji Rilwan Lukman that he should remove the subsidy on
DPK. 
This
subsidy on DPK was never removed by the late Minister of Petroleum
Resources, whom I considered to be somebody that I regarded almost as a
mentor. For reasons best known to late Alhaji Rilwan Lukman and the
then economic team, the Finance Minister and others, they never
implemented the directive to remove the subsidy. By law and the
Petroleum Act, you must gazette such a removal for it to become law and
of course it has to be published so that Nigerians would know that
there has been a change in the price of the petroleum product. It is
illegal to do it or to say you have done it, if you have not gazetted
it. Even before that, former President Goodluck Jonathan who was the
vice-president at that time, had also clarified, even in a public media
broadcast and in person as well, that the subsidy was never removed.
So I sought clarification from him and he also made the clarification
clear in a public media broadcast about a year and a half ago, that the
subsidy was never removed. So at no time did I go against a
president’s directive. It is not possible that I would have come in as a
Minister of Petroleum in 2010 and found that kerosene subsidy no
longer existed and that it had been gazetted and I would have suddenly
upturned it. Government is a continuum and so it was not possible that I
could have done that. So I feel very pained that Sanusi would make it
sound like I was the one who went against late President Yar’Adua’s
directive. I think this should clarify this issue once and for all.    
It’s
high time Nigerians got some insight into your personality, because
there were lots of complaints that you are aloof, inaccessible and some
even alleged that you were an absentee minister who spent more time at
home than in the office”she said.




The former Minister also addressed the allegation of renting a N10 million jet for personal use as Minister




Well,
I don’t know whether that issue is still in court. But the reason that
I went to court was simple. First of all, nobody can lease a jet for
N10 billion over a period. You can buy three jets for N10 billion. So
that was obviously a nonsensical argument and I did not lease any jet.
The NNPC leases jets and NNPC leased those jets to the best of my
knowledge because at that point in time, they had no official planes.
As an oil and gas ministry, we have purview over everything and it was
actually very wrong that we had to borrow planes from these
multinationals whom we were supposed to oversight. So over the years, I
am talking about over the last 15 or 20 years, NNPC had either owned,
leased or borrowed, both jets and helicopters. That was the case when I
came in.


Yes,
we had a very old jet which nobody was going to touch and another jet
had just been bought by late Alhaji Lukman just before he left, a
Hawker. Unfortunately, the moment it came, because it had been sitting
unused for over a year it became a problem. In fact, NNPC was advised to
sell it because it was a problematic model and had sat unused for a
long period. They were advised to sell it, but they didn’t sell it. Then
after a year of its purchase, it crash-landed in Nsubi and we had to
actually give it out for spare parts to the National Security Adviser’s
office at the end of the day. It was during this period that they
leased the private jets for executive movement and operations in
general, which we also used, as had always been the case. In that
respect, the reason for the leasing and the amount involved are all
available and I am sure the NNPC would be willing to give that
information to whoever wants to look at them for public records. So
again, it was a fabrication that came out from nowhere and was thrown
at us as if suddenly out of the blues and for the first time in
history, the NNPC was leasing jets or helicopters”.




The
Former Minister stated that the jet was never for personal use “No it
was not for my personal use, it was for executive movement, which is
has always been the case. I am saying just like the $20 billion, you
find something, you throw it on the person to feel smart or to make it
look as if the person is junketing all over the place or as if nobody
had done that before in the annals of the NNPC. Of course we were not
junketing all over the place. To be very honest, if they had never done
that contract to lease the jet, we would have been hiring at a higher
cost and which probably would have caused less of an issue. But to be
frank, the lease that was put in place, to the best of my knowledge, was
done with a company which even Shell and others have been using. So
there was a known company with a very good track record and was being
used in the industry by other multinationals.


But
the other issue that you raised in terms of the National Assembly was
not even because of the plane. The reason the plane was used in the
legal brief was because that was the topical issue at the time. It was
because in that year, the Minister of Petroleum had been summoned to the
National Assembly, according to my officers, almost 200 times. And at
this point, it became apparent that we were not going to be able to
work or to perform our duties as a government agency anymore. So it was
now becoming a situation whereby every week, they summoned the
Minister of Petroleum, one of the parastatals or NNPC, and it was now
becoming virtually impossible to actually perform our duties as an MDA.
As such, at that point, our lawyers just felt we needed to stop it
because it was becoming extremely disruptive. That was the basis on
which the legal action that was taken, just to allow us some space to
continue working” she said

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