If Dizeani Allison Madueke, the queen of the Nigerian oil empire, did not scamper after President-elect Muhammadu Buhari, on the off-chance that she would seize a speaking opportunity with him, we would never have conceived of her as more than a pretty face and a crook. We would never have imagined that she also commands a sprint talent. You can chalk up this revelation to the wind of CHANGE.
There has been a lot of motion since Buhari’s odds-defying victory. Youths from far-flung hamlets are trekking hundreds of kilometers in celebration of his victory. Politicians are defecting to the new centre of gravity. But it’s a huge surprise that Dieziani, a notorious human Pool of Bethsaida, moved. Imagine the woman Obasanjo profiled as Goodluck Jonathan’s co-President chasing a Blessing Okagbere record on tarmac – with high heels!
The proverb says the toad doesn’t run in daytime for nothing: it is either pursuing something or something is pursuing her. Dizeani didn’t run for fun. She was preened up for an international flight. She was looking the part of the President of OPEC. Yet, she he ran, working herself up to palpitation and perspiration, because something was at stake. She didn’t mind that they were alert spectators around, folks who would tell on her and burst the bubble of her mystique. She didn’t ‘’give a damn’’.
The chameleon would not abandon the proud stride it learnt from its fathers even when the whole bush is ablaze; so it is frequently consumed. But Dizeani has more common sense than a chameleon. She had to run the needful race. She knows it is better to choose the promise of survival over conceit. That’s why she condescended to taking flight.
When Saharareporters broke the news that she booked the same flight that Buhari was billed to travel on to London, not many implicated coincidence. We suspected that her snoopers had passed her details of Buhari’s trip and that she moved swiftly to purchase his company and attention at the price of a flight ticket. The well corroborated report that she laid aside he airs and graces and ran after Buhari at the airport and that aboard the flight, she tried to gatecrash into Buhari’s circle, is proof positive that her flight was really a desperate flight. She was running away from something.
No doubt, she was running away from the prospect of an invitation to accountability. She wanted to avert the interrogation of her channeling of the windfall that attended the spike of the price of a barrel of crude to one hundred and something dollars. In a manner of speaking, she was running to Buhari because she was running away from Buhari. She is afraid President Buhari would ask questions.
Dizieani dramatizes the panic in Jonathan’s orbit. The personages whose actions determined the woes of the era are afraid of the unknown. As their days in power diminish with every tick of the clock, they are convulsed with anxiety. They are scared of being out of control. In their heydays, they ruled and overruled. Now, they are faced with the specter of expiration and an uncertain eternity. They can’t predict how soon they will end up in jail.
Outgoing President Jonathan himself ventilated this fear the other day in church. He invoked the wrong register to describe what would befall him and some of his ministers after they become yesterday’s men. He said they would be ‘’persecuted’’. Never mind that one of his ministers is Abba Moro, the man who scammed thousands upon thousands of unemployed Nigerians and executed a dozen of them.
Dieziani has a good reason to run. She is the President of OPAQUE. She managed the most audacious season of looting of Nigerian petro-wealth. It would take an unprecedented shakedown to master the full extent of the plunder she supervised. The viciousness of the sack, the very terrorism of it, is beyond a pedestrian essay in audit.
Even Jonathan himself, the President who doesn’t give a damn about heist, respects Dizeani’s capacity to loot. He paid her an explicit compliment when he listed her as the chairperson of the Finance committee for his second term declaration event.
A couple of months later, we would read that she donated 70 million naira to Bayelsa PDP. Sure enough, contention over a fair and acceptable sharing formula cost the head of the Chairman. Other members of the executive sacked him. He was accused of pocketing the lion share of the Dieziani largesse like Ananias and Sapphira.
Dizeani’s pursuit of Buhari stems from a feeling of vulnerability. She feels like some endangered species, in need of protection. This is consistent with her character. She ran to the court and procured a Touch Me Not injunction when the National Assembly summoned her to explain her waste of 10 billion naira taxpayers’ money on junketing. She is running away from reckoning again.
She began flirting with General Abdusalami Abubakar after Jonathan’s defeat. She wanted a mediator. One who could plead with Buhari and secure a virtual immunity for her. One picture that emerged from her visitation showed how edgy she was. She humbled herself to adapt to the context’s demand of a veil and wound up looking mournful and unrecognizable in it.
The lady is a skillful actor. As Minister of Transport, she once came to the Benin-Ore death-trap of a road and cried a river. Tears have never improved any road anywhere. But it was important to her, at the time, that she impressed us with her grief for souls needlessly killed on that road. She walked away from that scene and didn’t press for the rehabilitation of that road until she was handed the ‘’juicy’’ petroleum portfolio.
The waning Dizeani probably imagines that if she opened her fake lachrymal dam, Buhari would be moved to pity. That if she wept well enough, Buhari would count her tears as evidence of innocence and swear to shield her from justice. But she is mistaken.
Buhari’s private forgiveness will not save her from her history. Her robbery of the Nigerian people makes her eligible for prosecution. She is running in vain because our collective sense of impoverishment can only be appeased by justice.