Whatever the Nigerian Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, has been doing in the past ten years, let those who know the woman encourage her to keep doing them. Or how else can anybody explain her meteoric rise in the political waters like ours where dangerous male sharks swim with petulant violence devouring smaller species of their kind, let alone the fairer gender. Mrs Alison-Madueke has defied masculine elbows and rough tackles in the male-dominated business world and polity to climb, perhaps, to the top of the mountain of her public service career at least, for now. Yes, with her election on November 27 (this year) in faraway Vienna, the historic capital of Austria, at the 166th meeting of the OPEC Conference as the President of Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the Nigerian petroleum minister has added once again another feather to what is fast becoming an overloaded cap.
For the records, Alison-Madueke is the longest serving minister in President Goodluck Jonathan?s cabinet having been appointed for the first time as minister of transport in 2007 by the late president, Umaru Musa Yar? Adua. She was to serve later as minister of mines and steel development from 2008 to 2010 when she broke the record to be appointed Nigeria?s first female minister for petroleum resources by President Jonathan. Also, before her current rise in Vienna as the head of OPEC, Alison-Madueke also holds the record as the first female alternate president of the cartel, a position she still occupies until January 2015, when she will formally take over from the incumbent and Libyan Vice Prime Minister for Corporations, Abdourhman Atahar Al-Ahirish as the substantive OPEC President. The rise of Alison-Madueke to the top of the oil cartel, OPEC, ought to be seen therefore as a significant victory for women not only in Nigeria and Africa but also the world over. It is a good omen that the world is fast coming to terms that gender is only a social statistic, which does not determine effectiveness and superior performance.
Moreover, Alison-Madueke comes with a rich vein of experience, which will certainly put OPEC in good stead especially at a turbulent period in the global oil market. She was a staff of the Anglo-Dutch oil giant, the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) where she rose to become the first Nigerian female executive director.
Thus, Alison-Madueke is expected to bring her huge industry experience in tackling the oil price crisis currently facing OPEC member states. Already she is providing a dizzying hint that she is confident, ready and fully abreast with all the evolving issues at stake as was gleaned from her statements at a dinner organised for her by the Nigerian Embassy in Vienna.
Alison-Madueke said, ?When you are in the position, you are also able to relate across board in a very operational way with member countries and also non-member countries of OPEC as well who today are putting a lot of volumes of production in the market. As seen today in the downward spiral in price of crude oil, Saudi Arabia is not the only big producer but it is the only OPEC member in the big oil producers and so there is a lot of balancing that needs to be done and of course, in that position, you are at the forefront of doing that. You are also at the forefront of ensuring energy security which is a major issue globally for us at this point in time.
?We will also be ensuring that our economies and not just OPEC member countries but of African countries that are now at the forefront of producing oil and gas are also given the frameworks to create enabling environment to allow us to become much more competitive in today?s global crude oil market.
That is a critical objective because the end-user markets are becoming fewer at this time and we must be competitive if we are going to step in there and grab a good percent of the market share of the end user market.?
For us as a nation, the election of Alison-Madueke to the OPEC presidency is something worthy of celebration not just because she is the first woman to be so elected but more importantly because of the global visibility her reign will bestow on our country. With the Nigerian Minister sitting atop OPEC, be sure that the narratives about our country will no longer centre around negative issues like the Boko Haram insurgency that the enemies of the country are pushing to the front burners of the international media.
There is no iota of doubt that Alison-Madueke will have a most successful reign as OPEC president if her achievements in the oil sector at home are anything to go by. Without any shade of doubts she is also transforming the critical oil sector by increasing local content and daily production to boost the economy. More importantly, the minister is working herself crazy in trying to get Nigerians to reap the maximum benefits of their status as oil producing nation through the Petroleum Industry Bill before the National Assembly. And more than any other petroleum minister before her in our country, Alison-Madueke is dealing with the issue of gas flaring with admirable courage and the missionary zeal it requires given the calibre and muscles of the multi-national oil companies moving to frustrate her policy on gas.
For all her tough and patriotic reforms in the oil industry, Alison-Madueke has gathered for herself a motley crowd of enemies whose toes she has stepped on in the national interest.
That is perhaps why she has also created another record of being the most invited minister at the National Assembly, sometimes over frivolous issues. Or maybe, in a lighter mood, the legislators are not the only ones who have taken notice of her beautiful and rolling eyeballs and have become captivated by them!
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