Diezani Alison-Madueke and the burden of leadership

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A LOOK  at Diezani Alison- Madueke, the Minister of Petroleum Resources, would naturally provoke either a sense of admiration or that of envy. Before she came into public service, Diezani was as comely as she is today. She has a verifiable pedigree.

One does not know if Nigerians have forgotten the hell we went through trying to get petrol to fuel our cars and the agony of waiting under the scorching sun for hours before we could buy kerosene. Today, you just drive into any petrol station and within minutes you are out with your tank filled. The same is true for those who use kerosene.

But to opposition elements and some arm-chair critics, no achievement in this dispensation is worth commending because to them, doing that would mean giving credit to the man they now see as their arch-enemy, President Goodluck Jonathan.

To achieve the present stability in supply and distribution of petroleum products as well as ensure uniform price regime across the country, serious reforms were introduced by Diezani and her management team aimed at sanitising the system. This is in addition to improvement of refining capacities of both Kaduna and Warri Refineries.

The Ministry also embarked on the reconnection of a total of seven pipelines in 2012 alone. They include Warri-Benin line, those of Kaduna- Suleja, Suleja- Minna, Kaduna- Gusau, Kaduna- Jos, Port Harcourt- Aba as well as Jos- Gombe lines. Apart from supply stability, pump price is now uniformed anywhere you are in Nigeria.

In spite of the challenges of insecurity and pipelines vandalism, Nigeria has maintained and even exceeded her 2.48million barrels per day benchmark in oil production, to the extent that in 2012, production reached its peak at 2.7million barrels per day.

The Ministry of Petroleum had embarked on aggressive laying of new pipelines spanning hundreds of kilometres for improved gas supply. This was in view of the fact that adequate gas supply is strategic to achieving government’s objective in the power sector.

Diezani has been at the forefront of the efforts to get the National Assembly pass the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, into law. Every day you hear members of the National Assembly make one corruption allegation after the other against NNPC and its officials, but the PIB bill which the Minister has laid before these law-makers has a provision that would break the monopoly of NNPC and make the system more efficient and transparent. Yet the National Assembly has been foot-dragging on the passage of the PIB.

Since Diezani resumed at the Ministry of Petroleum, over 250,000 high premium direct and indirect jobs have been created in the industry.

The SURE Programmes being funded from the marginal increase in pump price and reductions saved from subsidy has engaged 3,000 people in each of the 36 states and the FCT bringing to a total of 110,000 jobs. The Minister has set up a Special Project Unit in her office to implement the UNEP Report on the cleaning of Ogoni land as well as developed an Active Master Plan for Environmental Reclamation and Remediation of oil producing communities.

Diezani’s numerous achievements include installation of gas facilities in 20 locations to remote monitor distribution of petroleum products; expansion of critical gas infrastructure, the Escravos Lagos Pipeline System; implementation of Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Act; implementation of the National Gas Supply and Pricing Policy; completion and Commissioning of the Floating, Production, Storage and Off-loading, FPSO, Platform as well as award of contract for the second FPSO; NPDC has now grown to a medium size exploration and production company.

Perhaps the greatest achievement that the current Federal Government has recorded in the petroleum industry so far is the openness with which President Jonathan and Minister Diezani granted access to relevant agencies to dig into and expose activities of some oil marketers who were milking the nation dry through the notorious oil subsidy regime.

Even while some opposition elements and pull- down agents tried to stand the truth in the head while the controversy lasted, most discerning Nigerians and members of the international community gave credit to the present administration for having the courage to expose the rot and sanitise the system.

This is in view of the fact that the fuel subsidy racketeering was introduced in the oil industry several years ago and had been a silent but dubious culture before the present government decided to take the bull by the horn and to dislodge the thieves, leading to the transparency in which the subsidy process is being handled currently.

Apart from being the first Nigerian woman Minister of Petroleum, Diezani is the first woman ever to lead OPEC delegation. Being the first African woman to be profiled by the CNN in a programme that has featured such renowned personalities like Melinda Gates and the President of Philippine is not a mean feat.

It is for these and many more exploits that several international organisations have recognised Diezani as an outstanding personality. President Barack Obama has personally commended the Minister for her efforts in sanitising the Nigerian oil industry as well as her commitment to the cleaning of oil communities that have hitherto suffered environmental degradation and neglect from successive administrations in the country.

But while the world celebrates this awesome amazon and to the admiration and appreciation of millions of Nigerians, a few disgruntled elements who are obviously on the payroll of a dubious mafioso have chosen to make Diezani a victim of serial attacks, mostly through the social media.

It is, however, gratifying to note that a greater majority of Nigerians have continued to openly declare support for and appreciation to Diezani for her landmark achievements as Petroleum Minister as well as her loyalty and total commitment to the vision of President Jonathan to transform Nigeria.

Mr Bonaventure Melah, a journalist/public analyst, wrote from Abuja

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