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Jonathan and Madueke

How Diezani Madueke got lucky under Goodluck Jonathan

A former colleague of Nigeria’s ex oil minister Diezani Madueke has provided some insight into the workings of the administration of then president Goodluck Jonathan which allowed her corrupt activities spiral out of control.

Madueke is currently in the UK where she is facing charges of money laundering and bribery, following her arrest in October 2015.  She is suspected of having diverted about $6bn belonging to the Nigerian treasury to personal use.  She is also accused of awarding billions of dollars in contracts without recourse to due process. The US Department of Justice launched a civil lawsuit in July to seize $144m in assets including an $82m super yacht, artwork and luxury properties, branding them the fruits of an alleged bribery scheme involving Madueke and associates that she awarded contracts to.

Her former colleague, they were both cabinet ministers under Jonathan and Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, told that Jonathan was “idiotic” and “had no grip” on anything.  The then president is said to have an  “inferiority complex” due to his very humble background.  Jonathan once told Nigerians how he walked to school without shoes as the young son of a canoe maker.

A young Jonathan: He wasn’t that lucky then

As a result of his background and complex, while growing up, Jonathan looked up to Madueke, who came from a more privileged background and her father was a traditional ruler.  They are both from the Ijaw ethnic group in Nigeria’s Niger Delta.  Madueke studied in England and Howard University in the US and the ex-colleague said that at the time Jonathan “couldn’t come near her”.

When he became president, Jonathan “felt it was an honour to be next to her [Madueke]”.  This meant he just couldn’t control her and “left her” to do whatever she wanted.  To emphasise this point, Madueke’s former colleague added: “Jonathan couldn’t even control his wife”.

The former minister likened Jonathan to Second Republic president Shehu Shagari – “he was just enjoying the presidency” and didn’t bother with the responsibilities that came with the job.  He then contrasted Jonathan’s poor leadership with Yar’Adua, whose death in 2010 elevated Jonathan, then vice president to the top job.  Yar’Adua was described as “the most intelligent” president Nigeria has ever had.  He was “smart” and read and understood every document that was submitted to him, and had intelligent contributions to make on any proposals in the documents.

Jonathan and Yar’Adua

The ex-minister claimed that Yar’Adua’s death was a huge loss to the country as things just went downhill after that.  He also claimed that Yar’Adua was a “very honest man”.


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