by Chude Jideonwo
The people who come to read NEXT op-ed pages usually want to hear a hot rant about Nigerian politics and all that ails it – so it’s not usually advisable, if you want to catch their attention, to start by asking if they’ve heard Beyonce’s hot new track – ‘Who runs the world’.
Still. I’ll tell you that song is running the world of music, now. Why? Well, it has a catchy tune sure, Beyonce’s screen-friendly thighs are, as always, prime -ly placed sure, it has a not unimpressive dance routine sure, it is as usual an expensive production sure, and it features as always Beyonce’s visible determination to make this a mega-success sure, but like most things Beyonce, it is difficult to understand why the piece of repetitive music is such a monster-hit.
I remember the hype and power of that song today as I think of the monster-hit Diezani Alison-Madueke, former and soon-to-be Minister for Petroleum, and the way she made it through the Senate screening – despite the shocking list of corruption allegations and sundry misdemeanours against her amplified by the media, led by the investigative doggedness of this paper.
Now perhaps I should state that if I were the ombudsman for this NEXT, I would be the first to call out the paper for what seems to be a single minded focus on this one particular ‘corrupt-looking’ minister, when there are surely mini-MEs of her across the length and breadth of government. There begins to seem something of an agenda when a single individual is targeted again and again in an unending loop of accusations over an extended period of time. But then when a paper gets an exclusive and that exclusive is truth as far as it knows, the fact it is there is no reason on earth to keep it covered.
Even more interestingly, the lady – short of opening a Facebook and Twitter page and seeking out fawning praise of her person – has not found it necessary to engage the media with a proper defence of the allegations, preferring instead to brush them off as the ranting of an ant colony she is certain will have no effect. I do not know if she is guilty or not, and if we were to go based on looks, she doesn’t at all come across as the ravenous corruption machine she is billed to be; but what I do know is that no mere mortal so accused should be able to simply shrug, innocent or not, and survive serially, as this woman seems to have done.
And two days ago, at the National Assembly, those who run the world were on full display.
First, Smart Adeyemi, for some reason that I will not speculate about, decided to take it upon himself to desperately lead the lobby to get the former minister back on her seat, outside and inside the hallowed chambers. Soon after, the Senate President, David Mark, made sure the same Mr. Adeyemi was the first to ask the minister ‘questions’. Followed by a band of Senators (and band is the word) who had previously held long conversations at the Assembly lobby with Mrs. Alison-Madueke.
Then Senator Ayogu Eze, not known for his propensity to feather any nest but his, was quick to – gratuitously – heap praise on the beleaguered minister for the “admirable” way she has “withstood” the “barrage” of “blackmail” from the “media”.
The plot was simple – give her an easy passage at all costs, which she got.
This is another sacred cow from the House of Shell. You will remember that, thanks to the omniscient Julian Assange, when the Wikileaks files on Nigeria poured down on us last year, we learnt that Mrs. Pickard and her behemoth organization know far more about the inner workings of our government than any corporate should, in any lifetime. Whether Mrs. Diezani’s power comes from those quarters or they come from her rumoured closeness to Mr. President – what matters is that it exists.
And because that power exists in some form, this president will obviously stick with this minister no matter what anyone says – the public and the media be damned.
Is this ‘right’ or ‘wrong’? I shall not care to answer that, short of saying that this state of affairs reminds me of Olusegun Obasanjo sticking with former minister of aviation, Babalola Aborishade, even after he had overseen a series of fatal crashes. Of course, that kind of stubbornness finally led Obasanjo to the great big fall from Visionary African Leader to Petty African Powermonger.
Will Obasanjo be a cautionary tale for the new president?
Nah. If you, for a moment, thought that possible – from a president who won the elections through the PDP’s ‘awesome’ machinery then come, I would like to sell you the Onitsha Bridge.
Get used to the reality, angry people of Nigeria: you are stuck with Alison-Madueke. Ain’t nothing you can do about it. Or is there?
This article was first published on www.234next.com on July 1, 2011.