Barely two months to the inauguration of a new government, the fear of the President-Elect, General Muhammadu Buhari is already driving corrupt officials who wield enormous power under the out-going Goodluck Jonathan administration, out of the country. Buhari has declared that the fight against corruption will be a major drive of his in-coming administration.
iReports-ng.com gathered that following her failure to get President Jonathan and ex-Head of state, Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar secure a soft landing deal for her from Gen Buhari last weekend, controversial Nigeria’s Petroleum Minister, Mrs Diezani Alison Madueke has fled the country to the United Kingdom, from where she might escape to a safe haven.
It was gathered that Diezani who has a plethora of corruption allegations against her left the country through the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on Monday aboard a British Airways flight. A reliable source in the presidential villa told iReports-ng.com that “madam had to take off far ahead of the inauguration of the government of Gen Buhari because she is scared he may turn his searchlight on the oil sector.” Ironically, the minister who is widely known to travel around in private jets had to travel this time in the first class cabin of the British Airways flight.
When contacted to confirm the Minister’s whereabout, one of her aides who pleaded for anonymity confirmed Mrs Alison-Madueke indeed left the country on Monday morning but gave a different reason for the trip. According to the minister’s aide “it is true the Hon. Minister traveled but she went to take care of her health because she has been down medically and she needs proper medical attention.”
On when the Minister will be back in the country, the aide said “no one can say when she will be back. That depends on her health and the advice of her doctors. She may come before May 29, she may decide to stay back with her children over there till anytime to take care of herself.”
iReports-ng.com however learnt that the once powerful woman feigned sickness and actually pretended to be seriously sick while going through immigration at the airport departure lounge over fears that she might be stopped from fleeing the country.
Nigerians are waiting to see Mrs Alison-Madueke account for the $20 billion former CBN governor and now Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi has continued to insist was diverted from the federation account by the Minister and her cronies in NNPC.
Apart from this, a group of whistleblowers against corruption has accused Diezani Alison-Madueke, of squandering millions of dollars of public funds to rent private jets for the conduct of her official activities. In a petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the group, known as Crusader for Good Governance, demanded that Ms. Allison-Madueke be investigated for her habit of spending extravagant sums to rent private jets for her official hops.
Mrs. Alison-Madueke has frequently traveled around the world in private jets since becoming a minister, first under the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and later under President Goodluck Jonathan. In addition, she often moves members of her family in private jets.
In 2010, President Jonathan appointed Mrs. Alison-Madueke to the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, the nerve center of the Nigerian economy and traditionally the vortex of corruption in a country that is widely regarded as one of the most corrupt in the world.
Since being appointed minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Alison-Madueke has become one of the most powerful Nigerian government officials. Several reports have linked her to sleazy oil deals and a penchant for wastage of public funds.
She has spent some N2 billion on private jet rentals, according to the petition submitted to the EFCC by Enugu-based “Crusader For Good Governance.” The petition was signed by Okechukwu Obiora Nnamdi, the group’s leader.
The group accused Mrs. Alison-Maduekwe of spending $300,000 on an average international trip outside of Nigeria. She reportedly spends as much as $500,000 on trips to such destinations as China, Malaysia and several North American countries, according to the petition. The petitioners listed some of the minister’s most lavish trips.
During Easter break, she flew a private jet to Dubai with members of her family at the cost of $300,000.
During President Jonathan’s visit to South Africa, she flew in a private jet that cost Nigeria $300,000.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), a government agency she oversees, maintains a Challenger 850 Visa jet which serves the minister’s needs as well as those of her family. The cost of running the jet is $500,000 per month.
Ms. Allison-Madueke went to a meeting of the Oil Producing and Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Austria in a private jet.
In addition, the petitioners alleged that, in the last two years, the Petroleum minister has never attended any meeting outside Nigeria in a commercial jet or in any of the jets maintained by the Nigerian Presidency. They stated that she had wasted more than N2 billion on the maintenance of aircraft in the last two years. They accused her of being the only minister who consistently uses private jets to arrive at destinations when the Nigerian president travels abroad.
The petition also carpets Mrs. Allison-Madueke for often doing official jobs out of her house, which means that she is frequently absent from her official desk at the ministry.
As alleged in the petition to the EFCC, Mrs. Alison-Madueke also frequently uses the services of Vista Jet, a Swiss luxury aviation company that provides jets to wealthy businessmen around the world. Vista Jet has done deals with such Nigerians as Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State and Nduka Obaigbena, the flamboyant publisher of Thisday newspaper.
Curiously, Vista Jet has a Nigerian businessman, Kola Aluko, on its board. Mr. Aluko, who once acted as Vista Jet’s West African representative, is known to be close to Ms. Alison-Madueke. “[Kola] Aluko and Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke are neck deep in the oil business,” said a source at the NNPC. “She helped him [Mr. Aluko] to land a choice allocation of pricey oil blocks through a company called Seven Energy,” added the source.
In a petition sent to the Nigerian Senate by the Delta Producing Communities, Ms. Alison-Madueke is accused of transferring the ownership of four oil mining licenses (OML), 30, 34, 26 and 42, to Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept which belongs to Mr. Omokore.
The US-educated minister was long known for her interest in wealth and social climbing. During Nigeria’s last years of military dictatorship, she was linked to several military officers, including one-time Foreign Minister, General Ike Nwachukwu (retd.) and Rear Admiral Allison Amaechina Madueke (retd.), her current husband who was once Nigeria’s chief of naval staff.