The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, yesterday, broke her silence over allegations that she expended N10 billion on leasing of jets for her use, describing the allegation as mere fabrication.
Alison-Madueke, who spoke at an interactive session with some journalists in Abuja, insisted that she was being framed-up by her accusers because of her decision to change the Nigerian oil industry for the benefit of the country.
Speaking further, the minister said it was a common practice all over the world to lease jets to run the highly technical and competitive oil industry, adding that it was more cost effective than buying.
Alison-Maduake however, said that although the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, had a jet that was meant for her use, she took the advice of aviation experts to sell it off since it was bought and parked abroad for some years, thereby raising safety concerns.
According to her, hiring of jets for official function had been in practice since the establishment of the NNPC, a practice she said was meant to enable the corporation carry out its oversight functions over players in the sector.
She said: “When I started work as minister, there was an oil aircraft but I was advised not to use it because of safety issues and we had to lease some planes for use. I was advised that it was more cost effective to lease planes for our operations.
“Based on what we were advised, and having added the figures, we felt satisfied it was better to be leasing plane for use. For the N10 billion, one can buy three planes. I don’t know how they came about that huge figure ascribed to me. It is unfortunate for some people to just sit down and accuse people without any fact or figure”.
She describe the allegation as disappointing, insisting that the NNPC, under her, had been most transparent since its inception, as she had tried to improve the system of corporate governance in accordance with global best practice.