…Why Panicky Diezani is reaching out to Lamorde
Immediate past petroleum minister, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke during whose tenure several allegations of corrupt practices in the industry have been flying around is literally running from pillar to post, apparently in search of reprieve.
The highly influential minister in former president Goodluck Jonathan’s government is said to have stepped up efforts, playing out to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), buzzing the phones line of the agency’s Chairman, Ibrahim Lamorde.
Saturday Sun learnt that the calls have neither been taken nor acknowledged.
Exasperated, the Bayelsa born former senior executive of Shell Petroleum Development Company Limited reported Lamorde to the former National Security Adviser (NSA), General Aliyu Gusau (retd), complaining that the EFCC helmsman had been ignoring her calls.
It was further gathered that Gusau’s intervention earned little relief for her as Lamorde explained to the ex-NSA that Diezani had for over two and half years snubbed him.
The anti-corruption czar, according to source told the General he would not understand her spirited efforts to reach out to him now that she was no longer in power, adding for good effect that she poured more cold water on him with a usual shrill banter. “my brother, my brother” anytime they meet at public events.
It was further learnt that the embattled lady is not giving up without a good fight as she is said be prevailing on Gusau to convene a meeting between the two of them for fence mending.
It is not yet clear whether the General has obliged her request.
Diezani has been buffeted in the last three years with unsavoury reports of sleight.
So much was the uproar that student calls were made by human rights activists and anti corruption crusaders for her sack or resignation.
Former Ceneral Bank governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi first blew that whistle over the missing $20billion oil money from the vault.
In the face of flat denials by the government and the refusal to budge to the demands of the activities for sack, a forensic audit of the accounts of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) was ordered and given to the PriceWater-CooperHouse, a reputable international firm of auditors.
The firm returned a report of a lower figure of $18billion, and urged that a minimum of $6billion be returned. The NNPC, which initially disagreed with the figure later grudgingly accepted to make gradual refunds, but is yet to keep faith with that. Coupled with that is the undying issue of petroleum subsidy which is said to be mirred in high profile corruption.
The vexed and unresolved issue of petroleum subsidy often pitched marketers against the government and has led to incessant strikes.
Attempts by both chambers of the National Assembly to wade into the issue and other oil related ones met with a brick wall as she consistently refused to honour their calls.
At the height of the investigations into the $20billion missing oil money, she ran to the court and obtained an interlocutory injunction, restraining members of the House of Representatives from summoning her.
While these events unfolded, the Presidency watched unperturbed, offering no helpful insight to the demanding public. Till date, the former petroleum minster rode the waves’-declining all calls for explanations. The attitude of the Presidency in the face of the scandal effectively put her on the “A’ list of the class of “untouchables” in Jonathan’s government.
On Friday May 24, she was reported to have run after President Muhammadu Buhari at the Nnamdi Azikiwe airport. Both were on their way on a British Airways flight to London, Buhari was first to arrive the airport and completed his boarding formalities. Diezani arrived shortly after, and on getting wind of the presence of Buhari, who was yet to be sworn-in as president then, she abandoned her aides and ran after him. It was further reported that attempts made by her to snuggle up to him and speak to him on the flight drew blank. The report is yet to be denied. Diezani is the first woman to become the president of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC. As part of her controversial tenure, she flew around the world in private jets. The petroleum minister is generally acclaimed as a dark spot in Jonathan’s regime which president Buhari promised a comprehensive clean-up during the presidential campaign.