Minister of Petroleum Resources, Deziani Allison Maduekwe has denied media reports that she was seeking asylum in some foreign countries. Addressing state House correspondents after Wednesday’s Federal Executive Council meeting, the Minister said she was not leaving the country, adding that she has no reason to do so.
She blamed what she described as consistent malicious and libelous attacks on her person on the reforms she brought about in the oil and gas sector in the country.
The minister said: “Let me state it clearly for the records that Nigeria is my country and am not going anywhere, I love my country and I do think that I have done the best for my country and I would also like to point out that these malicious, malevolence, vindictive libels coming out of places like Osun Defender and other faceless online and other entities need to stop.
“For everything that has a beginning there is an end and that is not a surprise. What is the surprise is the sort of malevolence bothering on personal malicious libel to my person during this period of time. I do believe that I have done the best for Nigeria in this job and I have attained many firsts in the history of oil and gas especially in the reforms that we have done.
“In this period of time, I have stepped on many big toes particularly the feet of the cabals that were in the industry when we came in. Because I have said severally that we will open up the industry to all Nigerians and we have, but that is not to the pleasure of certain cabals.
“And I have been continuously maligned because of this and we have taken millions and in fact billions of dollars out of the hands of multinationals and their sub-contractors and put them in the hands of Nigerians through Nigerian Content. Hundreds of thousands of Nigerians have come into the oil and gas industry because of our reforms.
“Quite frankly, I think as unprecedented as it is, it does not please everybody and that cannot be helped but let us remember the unprecedented reforms that have happened in the oil industry during our time, such as major gas reforms, the Petroleum Industry Bill, which has been completely revised, reformed and put into the hands of members of the National Assembly where it has languished for two years in the National Assembly,” she said.
On allegation that she was seeking the intervention of prominent Nigerians, especially former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar to protect her from being held accountable for some of her actions in office, the Minister said there was no truth in the allegation.
“I believe that His Excellency, (Gen. Abdulsalami) has already answered that and called it unnecessary mischief and I will ask that the media do its research properly and deal with the facts.
“I have the privilege of meeting with many senior statesmen during the course of my job in the Federal Executive Council and I was surprised that he should be singled out in any such form. The short answer is no.
“I have not sought such assistance because I am not aware that I have been indicted of any crime that I will need a soft landing. Over the last four years, I have been severally and unfortunately accused and labeled in so many malicious and vindictive ways.
“I have explained these things and pushed back robustly on these accusations and I have even gone to court on many of them. Yet they keep being regurgitated. And I think it is unfortunate, particularly when we are moving into a transition period and looking forward to an incoming government which is coming to take over where we have ended,” she said.
The Minister also dismissed the allegation by the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) that the NNPC failed to remit money in its custody to the federation account.
According to the Minister, the NNPC has since commenced remitting money that was found through the audit of its operations into the Federation Account.
“The Price Water House Copper forensic audit that was done few weeks ago in its recommendation mentioned that $1.48 billion was owed by NPDC for a block that had hitherto been assigned from the NNPC to Nigeria Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) which is its subsidiary and they felt that the right process would be that NPDC will refund that money to the Federation Account. NPDC has apparently started those refunds and it is also in discussion with NNPC and Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) on same. So the refund has actually began,” she said.
Speaking on the reforms that she introduced to the Oil and Gas sector, the Minister said the Petroleum Industry Bill, if passed by National Assembly would further get more Nigerians into the oil industry.
She said, “In that bill are all the reforms needed to tear NNPC apart, make it a National Oil company, an equity share company through transparency, accountability and responsibility and reduce corruption in the industry.
“We did all these and we put them in place to reduce corruption so for me to be tagged with various tags of corruption, $10 million jet purchases, who buys jet for $10 million dollars for goodness sake? And $20 billion missing money for which Pricewater Copper (PWC) had done a report and the $1.48 billion which is not missing, which is actually money transferred by the NNPC to NPDC which is a subsidiary and NPDC has actually started making payments under my directives.
“I have said during our time that there are gaps in the NNPC and I said that openly. But I can also say that there is no time in Nigerian history in the oil and gas that the NNPC has been as open and audited as it is today.
“It has been positioned to go forward in the industry, it is true that the revenue profile is not sustainable. But we have done our best and the Nigerian oil and gas sector is today in a better shape than it has ever been in terms of achievements that we have recorded.
“We have done enough for this industry, we cannot please everybody. Yes, we have stepped on toes but we did that in the best interest of Nigeria and we have opened up the oil and gas industry to all Nigerians, thousands of Nigerians have benefitted from our reforms in the system”.
On the emergence of fuel queues, she blamed it on the distributors insisting that there were enough petroleum products available for Nigerians.
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