Contrary to allegations from the Buhari administration that top officials of the Goodluck Jonathan administration plundered Nigeria’s treasury before leaving office, a key player in the Jonathan administration, former Minister of Petroleum and ex-OPEC President, Diezani Alison-Madueke has disclosed in an exclusive interview with the Boss Newspaper that she actually left billions of dollars in government accounts before she left office.
“I actually left $5.6 billion in the NLNG alone… I doubt if such ever happened but no one is talking about it. I’m not seeking to be praised but to be acknowledged that I made some little contributions. That money could have been wasted on frivolities but I was determined to keep something for the incoming government once we lost the election”, she said.
Speaking further, Diezani revealed how she ensured that the money was kept in tact and not tampered with. “On 4th of May, Ngozi (Dr Okonjo-Iwealla, then Minister of Finance) wrote to the President to release $2 billion from the money to clear her table and pay contractors, which would have depleted the money to $3.6 billion, but I said to the President we shouldn’t do that. I explained what the accrued money was meant for and gave a detailed background of the account… Even in the past, Ngozi and the NSA had asked to be funded from it and I stood my ground because the money was meant for the gas project in Brass LNG in Bayelsa. Conoco Phillips pulling out affected it.
“We wanted to run a gas economy. It was the money that made it possible for President Buhari to pay the bail-out… If I was corrupt I would have spent the money on paying contractors who would have been too happy to do anything… I got calls from some of them promising kickbacks if I could pay but I refused and the rest is history…”
Stricken with cancer, Diezani says her priority now is how to take care of her poor health.
“I’m battling with a very serious type of cancer. I have tried everything to contain the malevolent spread. I have had two surgeries. The first was to take out the lumps from my breast and the second was to cut deeper into the tissues. I did the last one about three weeks ago (now about five weeks). I’m still in some pains. I’ve gone through Chemotherapy and now I’m starting Radiotherapy on Monday for five weeks (two Mondays ago). I’m praying this one goes well because I don’t know if there is any thing the doctors can do beyond this… The steroids were devastating and at a point I slipped into coma on July 28. My sugar level went wild first to 25 and then to 80. The doctors called it a near-miss and I now know what they mean when people say, “health is wealth.”
“My 14 year old son has been asking if Mummy would die. I really don’t know because I believe nothing is impossible for God. I’ve told my son that I will carry his children and grandchildren… I pray I will.”
“If I was a man may be things would have been different; it would never have gone to this extent… I have never stolen from my country. I will repeat that before God and man even if no one would listen. On this job, you don’t have to steal. Nigerians are the most wonderful people if you are lucky to have a few good friends who believe in you. All the foreign Ambassadors say it, the reason many often come back to work and reside in our country. People can call Nigeria and Nigerians bad names but we remain the most generous and humane people on earth…”
“But to answer your question specifically, I think if I have another chance, I will be more tempered on stepping on big toes but I will still do my job the best way but in a moderated way. Perhaps, I should have done things more subtly… I did what I thought was good for my country. I own no oil well. The President signed none for himself. I do not indulge in extravagant things even if people think I’m flamboyant. My only indulgence is my family and may be architecture and architectural interiors. I’m addicted to architectural books and magazines. That is my passion…”
“God will do as He wills. He said He will bless who He wishes to bless… There is nothing anyone can do about it. So be happy about people’s good fortune… It all feels like a bad dream but God knows the beginning from the end and the end from the beginning…” she concluded.