President Jonathan Considers Sacking Petroleum Minister Allison Madueke
By The Cable
President Goodluck Jonathan is “seriously” considering dropping Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke as minister of petroleum resources, several sources have told TheCable.
But one of the sources said “don’t bet on it yet because the matter has been on the president’s table for a while without him taking any action”. In the expected shock shake-up, Jonathan will not name a substantive petroleum minister but appoint a special adviser instead.
A mining engineer, who was once managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, is heavily favoured for the new position. If Jonathan goes ahead with the plan, the arrangement will be similar to what obtained under former President Olusegun Obasanjo who operated with a special adviser for six out of his eight years in office. An associate of the president told TheCable:
“Yes, Diezani’s removal has been on the cards. She was actually supposed to have been removed when Stella Oduah was dropped from the cabinet in February but the president decided to delay it.”
Alison-Madueke, now the longest serving minister in the cabinet, is easily the most controversial figure in Jonathan’s government. Jonathan nominated her into former President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s cabinet in 2007.
She was first made minister of transportation, then moved to mines and steel development in 2008 and appointed minister of petroleum resources in April 2010 when Jonathan was acting president. The controversies under her watch include the Malabu oil deal; the transfer of operatorship of NNPC’s oil wells to Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Ltd, Septa Energy and Taleveras; allegation of not doing national youth service; the kerosene subsidy case and the N10 billion jet charter affair.
“All along, the president believed that all the allegations against her were targeted at him. He believed it was proxy war, that Diezani did nothing wrong,” the source said. The source further told TheCable that it has become clear to the president that his second term bid will be affected by the Alison-Madueke baggage.
Last month, there was a litany of negative editorials against Jonathan in the international media in which his government was labelled as corrupt based mainly on the allegations against the petroleum minister. An Aso Rock insider said: “If it is true that the president has finally decided to fire Diezani, then the spell has been broken.”
A minister told TheCable that the conduct of Alison-Madueke at cabinet meetings had been “very embarrassing” at times.
“There was a day she engaged the president in a hot argument over a memo. Everybody went quiet, totally embarrassed.
The president had to stamp his feet before she backed out,” he said. She is also said to be in the habit of leaving federal executive council meetings midway.
“She developed a style in which she would leave her bag on her seat, go to a corner, bow to the president to take an excuse as if she was going to use the loo and that would be it for the day. Her aides will come for her bag later.
Most times, she is at the presidential villa while bundles of files are lying untreated on her desk,” the minister said. It is yet unclear if Jonathan will see through his latest move to drop her from the cabinet, but a source told TheCable “the likelihood is higher than ever before”.
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