ABUJA, NIGERIA — Whilst Nigeria’s first female oil minister Diezani Alison-Madueke faces what seems a coordinated campaign against her, President Goodluck Jonathan is still highly regarding her as a possible name for the next screening of ministerial nominees.
Alison-Madueke was appointed as Minister of Petroleum Resources on April 6, 2010 and is now considered a historic moment in Nigerian politics. Apart from being Nigeria’s first female oil minister, she was also the only feminine voice amongst the male dominated Organisation of Petroleum-Exporting Countries (OPEC).
Alison-Madueke’s appointment to the position came at a time of great challenge as the Federal Government aimed to overhaul the sector to deliver maximum benefit to the nation. Prominent amongst the agenda was the provision of gas for electricity generation, transforming the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its subsidiaries into profit-making outfits, improve investment in sector, deregulation of the domestic petroleum products market and resolution of youth restiveness in the Niger Delta.
Before being made Minister of Petroleum Resources, Alison-Madueke was appointed Minister of Transportation by Jonathan’s predecessor, President Umaru Yar’Adua. She served in that capacity from July 26, 2007 to December 17, 2008 before moving to the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development from December 23, 2008 to March 17, 2010.
Alison-Madueke came into Yar’Adua’s government in 2007 from her position as an executive director with Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC). Often regarded as a ‘Shell girl’ having grown up with her parents who were employees of the oil company, the minister was armed with enough knowledge and know-how on matters concerning petroleum resources.
A graduate of architecture in England and Howard University in the United States, she worked for some years in the U.S. before returning to Nigeria in 1992 to work for her father’s old employer. She rose to become Shell’s first female director in Nigeria, completing an MBA at Cambridge University along the way.
As petroleum minister, Alison-Madueke got the President’s approval to supervise the NNPC, Department for Petroleum Resource (DPR) and the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA). After the approval was given, she replaced key officials with those she trusted.
In the face of harsh criticism, Alison-Madueke is promising to continue the reforms which she argues has engendered transparency in the oil and gas sector and denied “rent-seekers” the opportunity to continue “business as usual.”
As the date for the announcement of new ministers draws closer, Mrs. Alison-Madueke is putting up a fight as there have been counter-advertorials published in the media by her associates.