by Ozoemena P. Nwauwa
Spotted today at a street corner shop in London without orderlies, escorts or even maids was the once powerful Petroleum minister, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, buying ingredients for soup, including maize, toilet roll, shombo, openye, perewinkle, Ugu, dawa-dawa, palm oil, kwuli-kwuli, okpa, etc. How are the mighty falling!
Just recently, she was so influential and powerful that everyone wanted to wine and dine with her; every journalist wished to have a word with her. She was celebrated by every magazine both in Nigeria and Africa. Ovation scrambled for her photographs either full or portrait; TELL and NEWSWATCH magazines made lots of sales whenever her picture appeared on their cover pages.
While in government, Diezani was so powerful that the rest of the ministers were at her mercy. She said and did whatever she wanted, sometimes with impunity. She is alleged to own the most beautiful and expensive and admired edifice in Banana Island, Lagos and other property in choice locations both in Nigeria and in London. She had bullet-proof cars, each worth not less than N200M. The interiors of her house and fixtures, including toiletries and Garri mixer, were all imported. With a snap of her fingers, Chinese delicacies were delivered to her door-steps.
She allegedly controlled the then CBN Governor and, at will, instructed him on what to do or how to disburse the country’s money. Her accusers claim the Governor never refused her orders, even when billions of dollars were untraceable. Diezani reportedly bought so much and owned so much that, at times, she is said to have lost count of her own properties. Her greed, it seemed, was directly proportional to her eyeballs!
The image painted of the former minister by the current government is that she was so powerful that she was the only one that could limit herself, not the President. Indeed, she was an amazon with class! Big spender par excellence! Used power to its fullest! No one could call her to order, not the Senate, and not even the presidency. She was the law and government!
Diezani Alison-Madueke when she was mighty
Of course, many of the allegations against Ms. Deziani are still winding their ways through Nigerian and foreign courts. Yet, seeing her in the street of London today, looking so ordinary and lonely, was totally humbling. It is a lesson for all our greedy leaders. Diezani was alone buying “ihe ofe” (soup ingredients) unaccompanied by the usual guards or praise-singers. It was kind of a time of reckoning. No special treatment, no siren blaring, nothing!!!
There is a message in all this for our current leaders. Whatever you are today, do not appropriate our commonwealth. Always treat others well because nature has a way of turning things on their heads. Karma always has its way of humbling or humiliating its victims. Posterity never pities those who are given the privilege to build and who turn around to destroy; those who have the means to create opportunities and offer jobs to the teaming unemployed youths of our country but who chose not to but, instead, preferred to bury millions of dollar in the ground. The days of reckoning will always come!
*Ozoemena Nwauwa writes from Owerri.