It is not clear whether the former minister, a graduate of architecture who built a reputation as one of the most powerful officials in erstwhile president, Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, was arrested based on the Nigerian government’s request.
The turn of events trails President Muhammadu Buhari’s declaration on September 27 at a meeting with President Xi Jinping of China in New York that his administration was determined to fully sanitise Nigeria’s oil industry and make it totally free of corruption and shady deals.
He hinted that those who misappropriated billions of naira belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) would soon be prosecuted. The president did not reveal who was involved, or when and how investigations would proceed, but a link could exist between the statement of intent and recent developments.
Alison-Madueke’s list of significant firsts leaves her months shy of sharing a birthday with Nigeria. Born December 6, 1960, she is the first Nigerian woman to be appointed to the board of Shell Petroleum Development Company Nigeria and the first woman appointed Minister of Transport by late President Umaru Yar’adua.
In December 2008, she was redeployed to the mines and steel development ministry and became the first woman appointed Minister of Petroleum after Jonathan became acting president and held the position until his exit last May.
In reaction to domination of the sector by foreign operators, Alison-Madueke sought to transform Nigeria’s oil and gas industry for the benefit of Nigerians her much-vaunted Petroleum Industry Bill, but she succeeded in alienating the people she aimed to serve.
She attracted vilification when she championed the removal of oil subsidies on the bases that it placed a huge financial burden on the government, disproportionately benefits the wealthy, (and) encourages inefficiency, corruption and diversion of scarce public resources away from investment in critical infrastructure.
She is thought to have stayed away from Nigeria since Buhari ‘s emergence as president. Under her watch, the NNPC was involved in several shady deals, many of which have been cancelled by the present government.
When dubious oil marketers siphoned trillions of naira in phantom oil subsidy deals, the House of Representative investigated the scandal. Yet she retained her position – to nationwide consternation.
[dropcap]A[/dropcap] subsequent probe by independent audit firms, including KPMG and Pricewaterhousecoopers (PWHC) following allegations of missing $20 billion in dollars in oil money from NNPC’s accounts by the then Central Bank of Nigeria Governor (now Emir of Kano) Sanusi Lamido Sanusi in 2014 and, afterwards, Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole, barely scratched the surface of the malfeasance.
She allegedly spent billions of dollars inappropriately on private jets and was the subject of earlier investigations by the Senate on allegations that she paid N30.9 billion ($263 million) to contractors between 26 and 31 December 2007 as transportation minister.
In defiance of the avalanche of criticism, Alison-Maduke stretched her notable but less inconsequential string of successes. She pursued and won election in November 2014 as the first female president of oil cartel, the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
However, she has consistently rejected all allegations of embezzlement and denied any wrongdoing. No doubt, for the controversial minister, the next few weeks or months will be testy.