A few days before names of then Acting President Goodluck Jonathan’s ministerial nominees were announced, there was a serious quarrel between the first couple. A source who witnessed the quarrel said, “The fight was so bad that madam nearly tore Oga’s shirt.” The bone of contention was the pending announcement of Deziani Allison Madueke as one of the ministerial nominees.
Two years earlier Patience Goodluck Jonathan had openly confronted Deziani Allison Madueke’s mother, Beatrice Agama, at an event in Port Harcourt. Patience told Deziani’s mother, “Mama, please tell your daughter to leave my husband alone. She is married and I’m married. What kind of thing is this?” An eyewitness told this reporter: “The woman was so embarrassed all she could mutter was, “What is she talking about?”
Days before Deziani was announced as the new Petroleum Minister, our group exclusively reported that she demanded to be given the petroleum ministry, a demand, we are told, she made in 2007 but could not get. Although there was overwhelming support for Odein Ajumogobia, SAN, who was Minister of State for Petroleum under Rilwani Lukman and was expected to get the substantive job, in the oil and gas industry, Deziani insisted that she be given the job. Ajumogobia was given the Foreign Affairs Ministry while Deziani Allison Madueke got her wish—the Petroleum Ministry.
In fairness, Deziani Madueke before being appointed minister in 2007 had worked with Shell Petroleum Development Company. She got to the position of Executive Director of the multinational conglomerate. While there is some controversy as to her experience in the oil industry and level of competence, the fact is that she left Shell as an Executive Director, a position few Nigerian women, if any had occupied.
On the day the First Lady of Nigeria, Patience Goodluck Jonathan traveled to Dubai, sources said, she wrote a note to her husband, President Goodluck Jonathan. The note, which was hand-delivered by one of her two children supposedly encouraged the President to invite Deziani Allison Madueke “to move into the Presidential Villa.” We could not independently confirm this but a source who was with her on the trip to Dubai told this reporter that the First Lady refused to take calls from the President for the first couple days she was in Dubai.
The day before her departure to Dubai, a Saturday, then Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Shehu Ladan spent two hours at the Aso Rock Villa. Most of the two hours the GMD was at the Villa was spent in consultation with the First Lady. Ladan traveled to London on official assignment the day the First Lady took off to Dubai. The next day Ladan was fired from his job and no reasons were given.
From what our group has been able to piece together with information available, Shehu Ladan is said to have executed five oil deals on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria. The Minister of Petroleum signed off on these deals. One of the beneficiaries of this deal is Patience Goodluck Jonathan. According to some sources, the First Lady made $2,000,000 profit from her deal. This was later reported to the President by Deziani Madueke who claimed that Ladan “misled” her.
The Monday Ladan Shehu was sacked while on official assignment in London, Presidency sources said the Petroleum Minister had visited the Villa to see the President. She was said to have presented two documents to the President; one, for approval to sack the NNPC GMD and the second one was for the appointment of his successor. The President, according our sources, read the documents and quickly signed them. “The President did not even consult anybody or directed that a query be issued to Ladan. She just handed him documents, the man read them and just signed. I can tell you that is the fastest decision this man has made since I’ve known him,” said one Presidency official.
The President and Deziani Madueke have a relationship dating back to his time as Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State. Some even claim that the relationship predates his years as Deputy Governor. A source claims the President and the Petroleum Minister are cousins. This claim was quickly dismissed by several sources who have known them for years.
A very credible source informed this reporter recently that Pres. Goodluck Jonathan came close to divorcing his wife, Patience, last year. According to this source, what saved the marriage was the intervention of Hassan Tukur, current Principal Secretary to the President. Tukur was then the Head of the Nigerian Energy Commission. He is a “long time pal of the President.”
Deziani Allison Madueke’s place as one of the two most powerful women in Nigeria today is not in doubt. Nowhere is her power more visible and pronounced than at the Presidential Villa. According to several presidency and security sources, any time Deziani visits the office of the president nobody else is allowed to see the President.
One source told our group “Soon after Oga became Acting President, Deziani came to visit him. Shortly after she walked into the Acting President’s office, the then Principal Secretary to the Acting President walked in to take some documents to him. Jonathan just raised his hand to stop the man in his tracks. After that everybody got the message. You do not enter the President’s office when Deziani is visiting.” These visits we are told sometimes lasts up to three hours.
After the sack of Shehu Ladan as the GMD of NNPC, there were rumors that the former GMD had engaged in a shouting match with the Petroleum Minister. However, almost everybody we spoke to for this story who had known Ladan Shehu insisted that the man was not capable of such behavior. Some top NNPC staffers who spoke with this reporter insisted that Deziani was threatened by Ladan’s alleged closeness to Patience Jonathan. “You see, Deziani would’ve been ticked off by Ladan going to the Villa to spend two hours with Patience. The Minister in a meeting with us informed us that she demands 100% loyalty and would not tolerate any disloyalty. How do you think she would’ve seen Ladan’s visit to the First Lady even though there was nothing personal in that visit?” said an NNPC staffer. We could not confirm if indeed there was a meeting between Deziani and top NNPC staffers.
The President’s relationship with Deziani Madueke, official and harmless though it may be, has not been well received by Nigerians. Several people we spoke to for this article advised the President to “tone it down.” One very angry Bayelsa political chieftain said to our group: “The President’s relationship with Deziani may be harmless…I tend to believe all these rumors are lies but even at that the man should tone it down. He is the man.” Another person told us: “How can on his first official visit to the United States, instead of going with his wife to see Pres. Obama who was with his own wife, he took as part of his entourage Deziani? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying there’s anything between them but if it were you would you do it? Tongues are wagging about you and one woman and on your first official visit you take her instead of your wife, on your first state visit to your wife’s state you take this same woman and send off your wife to Delta State. Haba, let common sense prevail here.”